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Broadway By Design: David Zinn Brings SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS from Page to Stage

Who is Annie without her red dress? Or Eva with out her balcony? It is the charge of the Broadway designer to transport the audience into the world of a show, whether it be Great Depression-era New York City or outside of the Casa Rosada.

In Broadway by Design, BroadwayWorld is shining a spotlight on the stellar designs of this Broadway season, show by show. Today, we continue the series with David Zinn, who acted as both scenic and costume designer for Broadway's new under the sea adventure, SpongeBob Squarepants.


Stakes are higher than ever before as SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face the total annihilation of their undersea world. Chaos erupts. Lives hang in the balance. And just when all hope seems lost, a most unexpected hero rises up and takes center stage. Get ready to dive to all-new depths of theatrical innovation at SpongeBob SquarePants, where the power of optimism really can save the world!

Where did Zinn begin in translating the cartoon's iconic look to the stage? "The lunacy and anarchy of the world of Bikini Bottom as mapped out in the cartoon, especially in its first few seasons where the DNA of the show was really solidified, was a great jumping off point," says Zinn. "From the beginning, Tina Landau (our intrepid and fearless captain) wanted the world the audience enters to be all-encompassing, fun, and constantly surprising, so that's a pretty inspiring set of marching orders, in addition to knowing that the score was going to be made up so many different voices and bands which suggested an eclectic, wild, and musical ride."

Broadway By Design: David Zinn Brings SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS from Page to Stage

Broadway By Design: David Zinn Brings SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS from Page to Stage

"While inspiration came from EVERYWHERE, if I had to describe our vibe I would say 60's beach culture reimagined in the 80s east village through the lens of a bunch of queer, crazy, show-biz loving modern vaudevillians who want you, your parents, and your kids to all have a Really. Good. Time."

Broadway By Design: David Zinn Brings SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS from Page to Stage

Broadway By Design: David Zinn Brings SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS from Page to Stage

Zinn's biggest challenges came with humanizing the characters. "Since we're watching a human cast, not an animated show, and celebrating their live-ness and richness and human-ness, how do we find a way to capture the physics-breaking vocabulary of the cartoon with three-dimensional humans who are (barely...) tethered by gravity and human limitations," he explains. "How do we constantly surprise, subvert and explode the idea of what people can do, how they move, their scale and shape?"

Broadway By Design: David Zinn Brings SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS from Page to Stage

Broadway By Design: David Zinn Brings SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS from Page to Stage

"I feel like that was the greatest challenge for all of us as we made our own Bikini Bottom. Keeping the vocabulary humble or...I guess not super-technical, so as not to lose the humanness of our characters, but also never letting the surprises die down. Also, how to make the zillion inflated plastic balls that make up a lot of Bikini Bottom both fire-proof and never-deflating. And shiny."

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Zinn's Broadway credits include: scenery for The Humans (Tony award); costumes for A Doll's House, Part2 (Tony nom.); scenery and costumes for Fun Home (Tony nom.) and The Last Ship. Off- Broadway: Torch Song, The Flick (also National Theatre, U.K.), Circle Mirror Transformation, Dogfight, Choir Boy. Regional/opera: Steppenwolf, A.R.T., Guthrie, Yale Rep, Berkeley Rep, Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Philadelphia.

Reimagining the beloved Nickelodeon series, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, now playing at Broadway's Palace Theatre (1564 Broadway at West 47th Street), explodes with energy and features an original pop and rock-infused score by a legendary roster of Grammy® Award-winning songwriters. Led and conceived by visionary director Tina Landau and a Tony Award®-winning design team, this new musical brings the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart, and pure theatricality. SpongeBob SquarePantsfeatures a book by Kyle Jarrow, music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt and choreography by Christopher Gattelli.

SpongeBob SquarePants is a one-of-a-kind Broadway musical event with original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alexander Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants and T.I., and a song by David Bowie and by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley. Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Additional music by Tom Kitt.


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From This Author Nicole Rosky

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