Are you ready, kids?!
In a swift 18 years, the “SpongeBob SquarePants” franchise has spawned 11 seasons, two movies, countless video games and now a musical. After opening last year in Chicago, “SpongeBob SquarePants” is set to open Dec. 4 at New York’s Palace Theatre. In this new story, SpongeBob and his friends return to save Bikini Bottom from an erupting volcano.
There has been buzz surrounding this show for at least a year and a half. Most of the Chicago cast (which the album features) is returning to open the New York show next month. With plenty of nautical nonsense to go around, this musical has blown critics’ expectations out of the water.
Composed by a plethora of musicians, such as the Flaming Lips, Sara Bareilles and Yolanda Adams, the music is an ambitious effort. The score’s greatest strength is its diversity of genres, ranging from pop and rock to hip-hop and gospel. However, too many sea captains does not always a steady ship make. With the exception of a few standout numbers, the score itself is somewhat of a mixed bag. It is at best, innocently catchy and at worst, slightly tedious. Certain numbers, such as “Poor Pirates” and Squidward’s solo, “I’m Not a Loser,” are completely irrelevant and feel unnecessary. On the other hand, the uplifting, “Just a Simple Sponge” and the gospel number, “Super Sea Star Savior” are among the most buoyant in the show.
Luckily, even if the score occasionally sinks, the stellar cast keeps it afloat with knockout performances and impressions that would fit right in with any episode of the series. Ethan Slater and Danny Skinner fit right in with their comedic charm as BFFs SpongeBob and Patrick. One of the more underrated performances on the album is Emmy Raver-Lampman as Pearl. Her soulful belts during “Daddy Knows Best” are a refreshing break from the typical contemporary theatre/pop sound of the show up to that point. Elsewhere, Carlos Lopez (Mr. Krabs) and Nick Blaemire (Plankton) deliver dynamic turns as the series’ famed restaurant rivals.
The musical is completed with sound effects from the show, including Gary’s signature meow, revamped versions of the theme song and the timeless favorite, “Best Day Ever.” Longtime fans of the series will absorb the most from this show, but there is truly something for everyone in this season’s hottest feel-good musical yet!