Total Rating: 
November 6, 2017
December 4, 2017
open run (as of 12/17)
New York
New York
Nickelodeon, The Araca Group, Sony Music Masterworks, Kelp on the Road
Theater Type: 
Palace Theatre
Theater Address: 
1564 Broadway
Running Time: 
2 hrs, 30 min
Book: Kyle Jarrow
Tina Landau

I came to SpongeBob SqurePants a virgin, having never seen the animated TV series on Nickelodeon. I have since been deflowered, but not fully seduced, by this over-the-top, splashy, nonstop musical. While the production values are stellar, and the cast outstanding, for those ignorant about the characters, the show can be confusing and more than a little overwhelming. It’s a brightly colored, very loud, hellzapoppin event.

The plot (and I use the term loosely) revolves around the imminent destruction of Bikini Bottom, where all the underwater creatures in the community live and work in relative harmony. There are rumblings coming from a volcano atop Humongous Mountain, which is about to go into full eruption mode. Panic ensues; as is too often the case when fear replaces reason, someone must be blamed. While some fumble with incompetence, others plan a strategy to prevent the coming Armageddon.

Ethan Slater is a plucky entertainer with seemingly boundless energy, and, in the person of SpongeBob, unrelenting optimism. As with several other cast members, his acrobatic ability is a delight, and adds to the wonder of the evening. SpongeBob plots to avert catastrophe with his BFF, the dimwitted Patrick; Danny Skinner makes his character loveable as well as gullible, and he has a truly beautiful singing voice.

The real brains in the group belong to inventor Sandy, the appealing Lilli Cooper. Sandy is a squirrel out of her element and becomes the target of prejudice. Opposing the trio are the nefarious Sheldon Plankton (Wesley Taylor) and his wife, Karen the Computer (Stephanie Hsu). Do the good guys win, or is Bikini Bottom destroyed forever? Even the kids in the audience know the answer to that one.

Speaking of children, there were relatively few at the performance I covered. The show is long, and may be too stimulating for more sensitive youngsters. Those who appreciate the sexual fluidity of the characters make up in numbers for the dearth of kids. So do lovers of the raucous rock tunes, and a variety of songs contributed by luminaries such as David Bowie, Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, and John Legend.

The Wow! number is performed by Gavin Lee, as Squidward. Lest we forget his name, this four-legged wonder gets a huge neon sign above his head as he sings and dances his way to stardom, under the sea style. Surrounded by a chorus of female and male sea anemones in sparkly tights, Squidward steals the stage, and tap dances his way into the hearts of all by proving to us he’s right-on in declaring “I’m Not a Loser.” Yep, it’s that kind of show.

A word to parents who bring their kids: you may have to explain what that funny smell is in the air of the theater. Be aware that while there may be some debate as to whether or not SpongeBob is smokin’, it’s for darn sure that the audience definitely is.

Ethan Slater, Gavin Lee, Lilli Cooper, Danny Skinner, Brian Ray Norris, Wesley Taylor, Gaelen Gilliland, Juliane Godfrey, Kyle Matthew Hamilton, Curtis Holbrook, Stephanie Hsu, Jesse JP Johnson, L'ogan J'ones, Jai'len Josey, Kelvin Moon Loh, Lauralyn McClelland, Vasthy Mompoint, Oneika Phillips, Jon Rua, JC Schuster, Abby C. Smith, Robert Taylor Jr., Allan Washington, Brynn Williams, Matt Wood
Sets & costumes: David Zinn; Lighting: Kevin Adams; Sound: Walter Trarbach
Michall Jeffers
Date Reviewed: 
December 2017