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‘The SpongeBob Musical’ (theater review)

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea, but stopped by Boston Harbor on his national tour? SpongeBob SquarePants, that’s who. The Nickelodeon favorite-turned-Tony-nominee has launched its first North American tour, bringing a fun, bright, and charming experience to young and old fans alike.

The musical opens with a dire situation – a nearby volcano is set to destroy Bikini Bottom and all its inhabitants. SpongeBob (Lorenzo Pugliese), Patrick (Beau Bradshaw), and Sandy (Daria Pilar Redus) race against time to save the day, while Plankton (Tristan McIntyre) schemes to use the disaster for his own evil purposes. The book was written by Kyle Jarrow, with original music by John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Plain White T’s, and more.

Though a typical episode runs in two 11 minute stories, the musical stretches the tale out to a full two hours and 25 minutes. This is fine for the many Millennials and Xennials in the audience, but it made for a row of very anxious 8 year olds in front of me. Luckily, there were many extra effects to pique their interests. From silly ensemble bands and skits before the main acts to colorful jellyfish swimming through the aisles, there were many offstage elements to interact with in between the high energy pop songs.

Even if you have never tuned in, the show plays its best to regular theater geeks.

There is very little makeup, and the costumes are homages to the characters instead of replicas. Mr. Krabs sports giant red boxing gloves for claws, while SpongeBob is styled with his signature suspenders. The most fantastical elements may be the wide array of haircuts and colors along with the inventive set pieces. Crates, ladders, and other common items are repurposed to bring a majority of Bikini Bottom to life, and props seem to be flying constantly.

Pugliese is fresh out of the University of the Arts but he plays SpongeBob as if he’s done it hundreds of time. There could not have been a better choice for the title role. His voice carries giggly high energy emotion one minute and rockstar belts the next. As Sandy and Patrick, Redus and Bradshaw are played in a more reserved manner, but their “friendship conquers all” moments are very genuine. While Plankton sounded and acted more like a caricature of Neil Patrick Harris than anything else, Cody Cooley gave an appropriately sarcastic and self-important Squidward. They Might Be Giants wrote the excellent  “I’m Not a Loser” and Cooley gives it his all in a 4-legged tapping number.

Although there are a few places in the second act where the story drags in comparison to the swift pace of the rest of the show, the overall effect is an energizing romp through the lives of our Bikini Bottom heroes. The SpongeBob Musical has everything a kid could want in a style any adult fan can love.

The SpongeBob Musical is currently playing in Boston. 
For tour dates and tickets, visit TheSpongeBobMusical.com/tickets

 

 

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