‘SpongeBob Musical’ on stage is inspired silliness
BOSTON – “The SpongeBob Musical” is a lot of things. In its treatment of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series “SpongeBob Squarepants,” it is inspired silliness.
It is also a tribute to the imagination and talents of those designers, directors and choreographers working on Broadway today, as well as the technological advances that have upped the ante when it comes to production values.
Sure, “The SpongeBob Musical” is aimed at fans of the TV show, but there is a lot for adults to like in the way the humans behind the aquatic creatures take on the challenge of portraying starfish, lobsters, squid, or, obviously, a sponge.
The animated series was adapted into a stage musical in Chicago in 2015, and later ran for 358 performances on Broadway at the Palace Theatre.
There’s the urge to call it “absorbing,” (sorry – had to get that in) but it conveys a positive message with unflagging energy throughout, and the efforts of set and costume designer David Zinn, who won a Tony for his set design and was nominated for another for costumes, and Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli (“Newsies”) are simply spectacular. Toss in the sprightly lighting by four-time Tony winner Kevin Adams, some fun projections and you have a treat for the eyes and ears.
The national touring company of “SpongeBob” has descended on the Boch Center Wang Theatre until Oct. 27, and the town of Bikini Bottom has come alive, not only with SpongeBob himself (an uber-energetic Lorenzo Pugliese), but with many other denizens of the underwater municipality.
There’s Squidward Q. Tentacles (a scene-stealing Cody Cooley), who longs to get into show business and prove his worth, as well as SpongeBob’s BFF Patrick Star (Beau Bradshaw), a starfish who finds celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
There’s even an interloper from the mammal world, Sandy Cheeks the Squirrel (Daria Pilar Redus), who plays a key role in rescuing Bikini Bottom from an undersea volcano threatening to erupt and destroy Bikini Bottom, in a under-the-radar nod to the continuing concerns of climate change, which also affects our underwater creatures..
SpongeBob has been long consigned to being a fry cook at the Krusty Krab Restaurant, owned by Larry the Lobster (Stephen C. Kallas, adorned in bright red boxing gloves), where the signature dish is the Krabby Patty. Larry dotes on daughter Pearl (Meami Maszewski), but doesn’t see poor SpongeBob as being management material for the Krusty Krab. Can SpongeBob do something to change his mind?
Into each life some rain must fall, and the Krusty Krab’s main competition is The Chum Bucket, operated by one Sheldon Plankton (Tristan McIntyre), a rather shady sort who sees opportunity in Bikini Bottom’s countdown to disaster.
There’s also outside interference by and humor from Patchy the Pirate (Morgan Blanchard), who insists on inserting himself where he isn’t wanted.
The score was written by an eclectic who’s who from the music world, cutting across a swath of genres, and as such is a bit of a mish-mash, but there are contributions from They Might be Giants, whose number “I’m not a Loser” showcased Cooley as Squidward; Jonathan Coulton’s opening number “Bikini Bottom Day,” a close cousin to “Good Morning, Baltimore” from “Hairspray,” is also great fun. Pugliese’s SpongeBob gets a chance to shine in “A Simple Sponge” by Panic! At The Disco, and of course, it wouldn’t be SpongeBob without a rendition of the cartoon show’s theme.
Tina Landau conceived and directed the show based on a book by Kyle Jarrow that correctly captures the SpongeBob vibe that has marked the animated series and now has been recreated onstage.
The spirit of SpongeBob and friends is strong in this musical adaptation, and adults are urged to find a child or some other discerning adult to accompany them to the Boch Center’s Wang Theatre.
The national touring production of “The SpongeBob Musical.” Directed by Tina Landau. Book by Kyle Jarrow. Songs by Yolanda Adams, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Domani, Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg, Rob Hyman, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Lil’ C, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, Blaise Smith, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, The Flaming Lips, They Might Be Giants and T.I.; Songs by David Bowie, Brian Eno, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley; Additional music by Tom Kitt; Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Choreography by Christopher Gattelli. Sets and costumes by David Zinn, lights by Kevin Adams, hair and wigs by Charles G. LaPointe, makeup by Joe Dulude II, and sound by Walter Trarbach. At The Bock Center Wang Theatre through Oct. 27.bochcenter.org