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Review: Nashville Children's Theatre's THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is Summer Escapism at its Best

Review: Nashville Children's Theatre's THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is Summer Escapism at its Best

Easton J. Curtis, Amos Glass and Meggan Utech Make A Spectacular Onstage Trio

Leave it to Ernie Nolan and his creative gang at Nashville Children's Theatre to take audiences on a much-appreciated holiday under the sea with their riotous, rollicking and altogether joyful production of The Spongebob Musical - featuring some of Nashville's most beloved stage performers - now onstage through July 17.

Led by the exuberant performance of Easton J. Curtis as the kind, ambitious, optimistic and undeniably sunny "simple sponge" who has been an icon for millions of fans since his eponymous Nickelodeon series debuted in 1999, The Spongebob Musical tells a near-apocalyptic tale of imminent danger about to befall the residents of Bikini Bottom. That impending doomsday scenario propels Spongebob - along with his pals Patrick Star (portrayed by the pitch-perfect Amos Glass in this Nashville premiere) and Sandy Cheeks, the Texas-born squirrel (brought to life by the always appealing Meggan Utech) - to heights of perhaps unexpected heroic proportions as they work together to save their utopian home and its band of unique inhabitants.

Nolan's nine-person ensemble brings their estimable talents to the stage with enthusiasm, ensuring that audience members of any age are drawn into the onstage mayhem and mischief, no matter if you're a longtime Spongebob fan or even if this is your first introduction to the likable character who yearns to put his management skills on display. Credit Nolan's impeccable casting choices (each actor seems as if they are playing a role that might have been written specifically for them) with making The Spongebob Musical boundlessly entertaining.

Review: Nashville Children's Theatre's THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is Summer Escapism at its Best
Tyler Evick as Squidward Q. Tentacles

The chemistry between Curtis and Glass is palpable and their interactions with Utech practically define friendship - who wouldn't want to climb a volcano and save the world with these three? Tyler Evick is ideal as the acerbic, show-loving Squidward Q. Tentacles; Darian Goulding adds another stellar role to his resume as the dastardly Sheldon J. Plankton (with Miranda McCaley perfect as his sidekick Karen the Computer); Jenny Norris is a wonderfully arch Ms. Mayor; Ford Beshire delivers the goods as Mr. Krabs; and Deonte Warren very nearly steals the show as Mrs. Puff and Perch Perkins.

You don't have to be all that familiar with the Nickelodeon series to appreciate The Spongebob Musical and thanks to some judicious editing by Nolan and his collaborative team (although we do miss Squidward's show-stopping tap-dancing number), the musical's book clocks in with a streamlined 70-minutes of sheer entertainment that excises some characters and some of the songs that may have hampered earlier iterations.

With a book by Kyle Jarrow and set to a score provided by some of pop music's best-known and most versatile personalities (including Jonathan Coulton, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Plain White T's, T.I., Panic! At the Disco, Cindy Lauper, Rob Hyman, Lady A, They Might Be Giants, John Legend, Andy Paley and Tom Kenny) The Spongebob Musical is definitely hummable and easy to dance to - Nolan's infectious choreography keeps his cast making all the right moves, and David Weinstein's musical direction is superb - but what really sets this production apart is its gorgeous design aesthetic, which features the eye-popping scenery designed by David Brandon, the out-of-this-world couture styles created by William H. Ditty and the clever and imaginative lighting design by Scott Leathers.

Review: Nashville Children's Theatre's THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is Summer Escapism at its Best
Amos Glass, Meggan Utech and Easton J. Curtis

Musical director Weinstein doubles as the production's sound designer, guaranteeing that audiences hear every note sung and every word spoken. Jillian Frame provides some swell props, while Matthew Hayes Hunter's foam wigs must be seen to be believed.

The Spongebob Musical. Based on the series by Stephen Hillenberg. Book by Kyle Jarrow. Original songs by Jonathan Coulton, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Plain White T's, T.I., Panic! At The Disco, Cindy Lauper, Rob Hyman, Lady A, They Might Be Giants, John Legend, Andy Paley and Tom Kenny. Directed and choreographed by Ernie Nolan. Musical direction by David Weinstein. Stage managed by Isaac Krispin. Presented by Nashville Children's Theatre. Through July 17. Running time: 70 minutes, with no intermission. For further information, go to www.nashvillect.org.

photoa by Michael Scott Evans

 




From This Author - Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner launched... (read more about this author)


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