BWW Review: THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL: LIVE ON STAGE! Brought The Iconic Characters to Life on Nickelodeon!
On Saturday, December 7, members of the original award-winning Broadway company of The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! reunited for a live television production on Nickelodeon.
The show's original cast members returned, including Ethan Slater as SpongeBob SquarePants, Gavin Lee as Squidward Q. Tentacles, Danny Skinner as Patrick Star, Brian Ray Norris as Eugene Krabs, and Wesley Taylor as Sheldon Plankton. Christina Sajous, who was a replacement in the original production, joined the cast as Sandy Cheeks. The ensemble included Kyle Matthew Hamilton, Katie Lee Hill, Curtis Holbrook, L'ogan J'ones, Jai'len Josey, Kelvin Moon Loh, Lauralyn Mcclelland, Vasthy Mompoint, Bryonha Parham, Oneika Phillips, Jon Rua, JC Schuster, Abby C. Smith, Robert Taylor Jr., Allan Washington.
The original cast jumped right back into their roles, and it felt like they'd never left! Slater more than delivered as everyone's favorite sponge. I was weary before seeing the show for the first time, because I didn't know how anyone could capture the essence of SpongeBob on stage, but Slater proved me wrong, and then some. His infectious personality and immense talent makes him perfect to embody such an iconic character. Gavin Lee brought the sass as Squidward, and his performance during "I'm Not a Loser" was one of the standout moments of the night. Christina Sajous may not have been the first person to play Sandy on Broadway, but she definitely made her mark as Sandy Cheeks. Her chemistry with Slater added to the production, and Sajous brought an emotional depth to the show through her character's struggles with feeling wanted by Bikini Bottom. Wesley Taylor's Plankton gets the show's only rap number in "When the Going Gets Tough," and he doesn't disappoint. The stand-out performance of the night was Jai'len Josey's Pearl, who brought emotion and power to the show. Josey's voice is a powerhouse and every time she sang, she commanded attention.
The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! gave viewers special moment when the character of Patchy the Pirate in the show was played by Tom Kenny, who plays the character on the animated series. Kenny did a great job during his performance of "Poor Pirates," and his part in the live event truly united the musical and the animated series for audiences watching.
The live television production of SpongeBob allowed for a unique opportunity to experience the show through the eyes of a camera. When you see a musical live in person, you chose which parts of the show to focus on at any given time, but with live television production of SpongeBob, the shot choices often decide for you. Personally, this allowed me to experience parts of the show in a new way. The camera could get up close and personal with the cast, allowing audiences to see their expressions and make for more comedic moments. I also appreciated seeing the show from different angles, like when we got to see the sound effect guy or the orchestrator up close and personal.
This musical was perfect for Nickelodeon, because it did a great job at honoring the original series, while bringing a new story to life. The show has many callbacks to iconic moments from the series ("My leg!" and "is mayonnaise an instrument?" being two of the biggest laughs), but it also teaches audiences about the power of positivity and kindness - which is a very important lesson for children. This event is a perfect opportunity for parents to introduce musicals to their kids, using a character they know and love, and it also gives diehard fans of the show a new way to connect with the characters and stories. There are SpongeBob fans of all ages, from young kids to adults who watched the series when they were children, so airing the musical live on Nickelodeon allowed for new audiences who otherwise may have never seen it, to experience the satirical, emotional, and incredibly fun show!