Oscar E Moore

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SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS – Palace Theatre transformed into Day-Glo theme park for Bikini Bottom

December 12th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

Who knew?  Who knew that a simple sponge living in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea in a town called Bikini Bottom could erupt on Broadway at the Palace Theatre as an ingenious, put-a-smile-on your-face, wildly imaginative, bouncy, pun-filled extravaganza that breeds one show-stopping production number after another – “a non-stop cartoon meets honest human feelings” with a score written by a slew of famous artists that somehow sounds cohesive and melodic that sets just the right tone all around?

Tina Landau knew, that’s who!  The mastermind behind this theatrical coup (conceived and directed) based on the Nickelodeon series by Stephan Hillenburg with a could-be-edited book by Kyle Jarrow that deliberately and successfully throws every gimmick into the pot, coming up with a delicious, savory and insane Day-Glo stew.

The not so simple sponge is SpongeBob SquarePants – the ever optimistic hero of this opus – portrayed by Ethan Slater making a tremendous, auspicious Broadway debut.

He is more than wonderful.  He is a lovable triathlon champion of the arts.  Singing, dancing, and gymnastics seem second nature to him.  He is charming to boot.   No better sponge to have as a friend.  And we all root for him to win!  And he does!

His fellow sea creatures all propel the plot along.  Mount Humongous threatens to erupt and destroy all unless someone can save the day.  It’s not Mighty Mouse but SPONGEBOB to the rescue.

The standout cast includes Patrick Star (Danny Skinner) his BFF – Squidward Q. Tentacles (a scene stealing Gavin Lee) who sports four toe tapping legs – Lili Cooper as Sandy Cheeks a squirrel and scientist who comes up with the solution even though she becomes an outcast for being different – the money hungry Eugene Krabs (Brian Ray Norris) his daughter Pearl Krabs (Jai’Len Christine Li Josey with a voice that can be heard echoing in Hackensack) and the evil one-celled Plankton named Sheldon (Wesley Taylor).

Plus The Electric Skates, a corps of sardines and Patchy the Pirate (a show within a show standout) – all of them cavorting on the monumental set design by David Zinn bookended by a Rube Goldberg contraption that has to be seen to be enjoyed.

Mr. Zinn also did double duty on the inventive costumes in a kaleidoscope of colors of which there seem to be hundreds – not nearly as many, however, as the ever shifting light cues designed by Kevin Adams.

Tom Kitt has pulled all the various genres of music together by the various artists.  Favorites include “Hero is My Middle Name (Cyndi Lauper/Rob Hyman) “I’m Not a Loser (They Might Be Giants) and “(I Guess I) Miss You (John Legend) and the amazing “Bikini Bottom Day” (Jonathan Coultron) that allows choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s dancers to strut their stuff to thunderous applause.

This is a fun musical for everyone:  Young and those old but still young at heart.

Stand up and cheer for optimism, persistence, friendship and imagination.  Highly recommended.  One intermission.  2 ½ hrs.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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