BWW Interview: Introducing LORENZO PUGLIESE of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL
You know the iconic song, you recognize the ridiculous, charismatic characters, and when you watched the cartoon with your kids, you likely never expected it come to life as a smash-hit Broadway musical. Neither did Lorenzo Pugliese, who adored the show as a child, now plays the title character in this family friendly, wild romp through Bikini Bottom.
THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is not your average musical. The show's composers are a who's who of the music world including Aerosmith, Yolanda Adams, The Flaming Lips, Panic at the Disco, Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Cindy Lauper, and David Bowie.
"Musically there is something for everyone. It is definitely a unique Broadway production," Pugliese says. His favorite song in the show is "I'm Not a Loser." "It's an incredible show stopping number performed by Squidword. But honestly, every single song in the show is a hit."
THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL takes place in Bikini Bottom, the super iconic town we know and love. SpongeBob and the rest of town may face their impending doom when a volcano is set to erupt the following evening. The residents of the town react to the devastating news in different ways. Of course, someone has to try to stop the volcano, because otherwise, bye bye Bikini Bottom! The stakes are high.
There are jokes for kids and jokes for the adults that go over the kids' heads. The show as a whole is a Broadway musical but also like a circus and a rock concert and a party.
As a child Pugliese envisioned a life playing professional baseball, not bringing down the house each night in this cartoon come to life, but his dad made him take piano lessons to keep him cultured. His voice teacher told him that a production of High School Musical needed boys. "I wanted to do sports, but my teacher was persistent. I auditioned and got Troy, the lead role."
That was the first time he had acted or sang. "At the first performance when I sang the opening number, the feeling was intoxicating, gratifying, and fulfilling. I knew it would be a part of my life."
In fact, THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL was his first Broadway audition, but he almost didn't showed up for it. During his sophomore year in college at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, one of his friends told him about THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL on Broadway and said, "You're going to play SpongeBob one day."
A couple years later the casting call came out for the national tour and so many people told him about it. He wasn't planning to audition, but friends, who lived in the city, insisted and offered their place for him to stay. Reluctant, Pugliese said, "Fine I'll go, but I'm not going to get it." He auditioned on no sleep, and eight or nine callbacks later, landed the part. "It feels like I won the lottery!"
THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL opened the night before we spoke. Pugliese described the experience as absolutely incredible and that the support was overwhelming. When SpongeBob is first revealed to the audience, he gets a crazy uproarious entrance applause.
"That's when it really hit me, and I started tearing up. It was a magical night; and at the end, too, during final bows, I fully cried. Because of how iconic the television show is and how dearly people hold it in their hearts, they're able to get pulled into that world live and in person. It's really a bit overwhelming in a very good way."
For anyone who is on the fence about the show, Pugliese advises them to give it a chance. "I haven't talked to a single person that hasn't told me that the show totally exceeded their expectations."
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Daniel