‘Spongetastic’ musical warms up brutal winter
NEW YORK—Winter has been brutal. Over the last week, the temperatures dipped into the single digits, making it painful to be outside. Last Thursday, a winter storm dumped many inches of snow on the east coast, including New York City.
Getting out in that mess wasn’t going to be fun, but since we had tickets to “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical,” currently playing at the Palace Theater, we had no choice but to get out. So, we wore many layers of winter gear, making sure our faces, necks and hands were covered, plus hats, gloves and coats.
Nicole was probably the only one who had a great time out in “snowmageddon” conditions, as she had never seen snow come down. In the early afternoon, I called her to the window so she could watch it fall. As pretty and romantic as snowfall might be, once it gets on the ground, it can turn sidewalks into death traps.
We took great care walking to the theater. After taking it slow, we arrived at the Palace, which had been turned into Bikini Bottom, the setting for “SpongeBob.” Based on Nickelodeon’s incredibly popular animated series, the new musical chronicles the citizens of this town as they face impending doom.
The series’ main characters are represented: SpongeBob SquarePants (played by Ethan Slater, in his Broadway debut), Patrick Star (Danny Skinner), Squidward Q. Tentacles (Gavin Lee), Sandy Cheeks (Lilli Cooper), Eugene Krabs (Brian Ray Norris), and archnemesis Sheldon Plankton (Wesley Taylor).
They’re all brought to life without crazy costumes, which didn’t seem to matter to even the younger members of the audience. The moment we see Ethan in his costume, we know he’s SpongeBob.
Directed by Tina Landau and choreographed by Tony winner Christopher Gatelli, the show delivers a much-needed lift in the cold months. Boasting a bright, colorful set, fantastic song numbers penned by pop music heavyweights (Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Panic! at the Disco, Yolanda Adams, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Sara Bareilles, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith), and quite a lot of the television series’ inside jokes (yes, there were quite a few things we didn’t get), “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical” is fun, funny and heartwarming.
Ethan makes a wonderful Broadway debut in the title character, capturing not just that laugh, but a sense of wonder and positivity. Danny as Patrick is just as lovely, his speech, body language and demeanor nearly identical to the animated starfish.
Lilli has her land mammal down to a tee. Gavin as Squidward got most of my laughs, not only because of how well he embodied his character, but also because he figures in one of the most opulent, lush production numbers in the show, recalling old Broadway.
Wes as the diabolical Plankton (and his partner in crime, Karen the Computer, played by Stephanie Hsu) is an evil genius, but he never loses the humor we come to know the series by.
Another Broadway debut worth noting is that of Jai’len Christine Li Josey, who plays Pearl, Mr. Krabs’ daughter. With a voice that made the rafters shake, plus a sweet face and an innocent demeanor, the moment she opens her mouth is a moment you won’t soon forget.
In the winter, tickets to Broadway shows are easier to come by (unless it’s “Hamilton,” which will always be a tough ticket to get) due to fewer tourists coming to the city. This is the time to try and see that show you’ve always wanted to see. Put “SpongeBob” on your list, if you’re looking for family fun that’ll put a smile firmly on your face.
After the performance, we were treated to a backstage tour by cast member Kelvin Moon Loh, who plays newscaster Perch Perkins. He showed us the stage, backstage areas, costumes and props.
Congratulations to everyone who’s part of this fabulous musical. We truly had a “spongetastic” time!
“SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical” is now playing at the
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