Entertainment » Theatre

National Tour of 'The SpongeBob Musical' Will Make You Smile

by Clinton Campbell
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Oct 18, 2019
The cast of the national company of "The SpongeBob Musical"
The cast of the national company of "The SpongeBob Musical"  (Source:Jeremy Daniel)

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Of course, it's SpongeBob SquarePants.

Everyone's favorite square yellow protagonist, as well as his ragtag group of underwater misfits from Bikini Bottom, are visiting Boston until October 27th. And it is an event that even the most Squidward of Squidward's will enjoy.

The surprise Broadway critical hit, "The SpongeBob Musical" is just that — a total surprise. It is silly and goofy and unexpectedly thoughtful. It is a big bag of Halloween candy offering a wide variety of treats for the eyes, ears, and heart.

Even those of us that have proudly never seen an episode of the hit Nickelodeon cartoon on which it is based will get caught up in the sheer energy and joy this is emanating from the stage like a space heater. Though granted, understanding the logic of this world will take a leap of faith.... a squirrel lives underwater? A greedy crab has a teenage daughter that is a whale? Sure.

The show features songs by a veritable who's who of pop and rock luminaries; including Boston boys Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith and They Might Be Giants as well as others such as David Bowie, John Legend, and Cyndi Lauper. All of these unique influences are molded into a unified voice by Tom Kitt.

Director Tina Landau in conjunction with set and lighting designer David Zinn has accomplished the near impossible. (Zinn won a Tony Award for his sets.) They have taken a two-dimensional world and turned it into a living and breathing three dimensional one. The world of Bikini Bottom seems just as plausible as any other small town. It is a world that is fluid and absurd yet always familiar.

Part of this is accomplished by keeping the plot simple to allow the characters to shine. Bikini Bottom is under threat from a nearby volcano and it is up to SpongeBob, Patrick Star (the starfish), and Sandy Cheeks (the squirrel) to save the day.

Though even within this simple framework, Kyle Jarrow's book manages to hit on very real topics such as government ineptitude, xenophobia, and science denial.

But, all of these feats would be impossible without the right cast and this non-Equity national tour has hit it out of the park. The amount of sheer talent on stage is remarkable.

Of course, the lynchpin is SpongeBob himself. Lorenzo Pugliese seems to have been born to play this role. Without a drop of yellow makeup in sight, you simply believe this short, agile, bundle of energy and smiles IS SpongeBob. His magnetic performance is a joy to watch.

Then there is his "BFF" (also possibly the most cringy song in the show) Patrick Star played by Beau Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw is big and goofy and lovable and provides the perfect counterpoint to the ball of energy that is SpongeBob.

Rounding out the trio of heroes is Daria Pilar Redus as Sandy Cheeks the resident squirrel scientist. Ms. Redus' performance is wisely understated and the most "natural" which helps underscore her outsider status that she must overcome.

It would also be a crime to not mention Cody Cooley as SpongeBob and Patrick's curmudgeonly neighbor Squidward Q. Tentacles who dreams of a life on the stage. Mr. Cooley's Busby Berkeley style four-footed (yes, four) tap number is a highlight. It is impossible to not smile with that many sequins and feathers on stage.

And this is where "The SpongeBob Musical" succeeds so well — it makes you smile. Yes, it is ridiculous. Yes, it is illogical. It is also just a lot of fun.

So take a break from work, or the news, and travel to Bikini Bottom for a couple of hours of vacation. You will be glad you did.

"The SpongeBob Musical" continues through October 27 at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont Street, Boston, MA. For ticket information, visit the Boch Center Wang Theatre website. For more on the National tour of "The SpongeBob Musical," visit the show's Facebook page.

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