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BWW Review: Lyric Academy's SPONGEBOB is More Than A Simple Sponge

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The Thelma Gaylord Academy brings live theatre back to The Plaza District.

BWW Review: Lyric Academy's SPONGEBOB is More Than A Simple Sponge

Lyric Theatre's Thelma Gaylord Academy gets the privilege of bringing live theatre back to The Plaza District. Their production of 13: The Musical was the first show staged on the Paula Stover space since the COVID pandemic lockdown began. Their second show on the mainstage is the lovely Spongebob Musical, and it's a great time under the sea for patrons and students alike!

Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical is based on Stephen Hillenburg's beloved Nickelodeon cartoon. It's got a score that challenges even the most complex of rock musicals, with original tunes by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, David Bowie, and more.

Spongebob is an innocent, yellow kitchen sponge on the outside. But on the inside, he's got a heart of gold and he's more than he seems. He's the little square fry cook that could. Together with his friends Patrick and Sandy the Squirrel, Spongebob becomes the hero the town of Bikini Bottom needs.

This production is directed by Ronn Burton, choreographed by Thomas Olson, and stage managed by Kim Thomas Cobb. The show is double cast in some roles, and the students in Lyric Academy, as always, bring their all and do not disappoint.

Spongebob Squarepants is portrayed alternately by Abigail Manners and Becca Smith. Briam Zuniga is Patrick Star, Duncan Rumbaugh is Squidward, Emmalee Hamilton and Molly Norton are Sandy Cheeks, Greiner Gumerson is Sheldon J. Plankton, Saxon Neal is Eugene Krabs, Samantha Rother and Emmalee Hamilton are Pearl Krabs, Wes Washburn and Thayer Dycus are Perch Perkins, Kiara Tournear and Arlo Poindexter are The Mayor, and Wes Washburn is Patchy the Pirate. Grace Kendrick and Claire Keenze are Karen The Computer, Aubree Churchill is Mrs. Puff, Collin Knapp is the French Narrator, Paige Medley is Buster Bluetang, Jonathan Lehew is Johnny The Bartender, Jocelyn Manjarrez is Betsy Krabs, Chase Maloy is Larry the Lobster, Nathan Bosworth is Old Man Jenkins, and Clare Isaacs is Gary.

The ensemble is made up of Jocelyn Manjarrez, Paige Medley, Kelly Briseno, Navy Williams, Cavin Nash, Liam Spencer, Audrey Manners, Charlee Barks, Emma Wells, Gabby Olson, Carsyn Coffman, Cassie Magrath, Collin Knapp, Clare Isaacs, Jonathan Lehew, Chase Maloy, Aubree Churchill, Nathan Bosworth, Thayer Dycus, and Wes Washburn. The Electric Skates are portrayed by Kelly Briseno, Kiara Tournear, Molly Norton, and Navy Williams. Foley artistry is provided by Campbell Leiterman.

The students of the Lyric Academy are hard-working and talented, and they always impress with their professionalism on stage. Manners is a superstar as Spongebob, with a singing voice that rivals some Broadway stars. Zuniga is loveably clueless as Patrick and pulls off the role with charm. Rumbaugh is quite the dancer and performer, impressing as the downtrodden Squidward. Emmalee Hamilton is perfectly sweet and smart as Sandy Cheeks, the voice of reason in the show. Hamilton has a bounce in her step and keeps hope alive even when things look bleak. Gumerson is sinister and sneering as Plankton, the would-be villain of this heartwarming tale. His wicked laugh and crooked smile are downright Grinch-like!

Neal is multifaceted as Mr. Krabs. As Spongebob's boss, he has a love of money and success, but eventually learns what really matters in life. Rother is always a favorite on the Lyric Academy stage, and as the daughter to Mr. Krabs, she's sympathetic and relatable. Kendrick is robotic and sassy as Plankton's Computer Wife. Washburn as Patchy and Knapp as the French Narrator take their respective turns on stage alone and they bring the laughs and the applause in each scene.

Several impressive feats are pulled off here, not only French accents and full-length rock musicals, but also tap dancing! It's so rare and exciting to see this style of dance on stage. Kudos to the Lyric Academy for always including it in their choreography when there's an opportunity.

Spongebob is fun for kids, nostalgic for parents, and it's truly uplifting to see live theatre on (an indoor) stage again. As the Director of Education Rozz Grigsby says before the curtain comes up, the stage was left dark and empty for nearly two years. It collected dust and needed a thorough cleaning. The stage itself serves as a reflection of our own lives. The weight of the past two years has settled on us all like dust, as we've gotten too comfortable with the disuse of regular life. The long-awaited return to live theatre and this lovely musical remind us all that we can laugh again, dance again, and deep down, just be kids at heart.

For more information on the Thelma Gaylord Academy's upcoming Spring production season, visit thelmagaylordacademy.com.


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Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid theatre goer in Oklahoma? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.



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