Friday, July 1, 2016

Review of The SpongeBob Musical (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The SpongeBob Musical. The book was by Kyle Jarrow and there were original songs by a lot of talented people that would take a very long time to list. It was co-conceived and directed by Tina Landau and the choreography was by Christopher Gattelli. The music supervision and arrangements were by Tom Kitt. It was about SpongeBob (Ethan Slater) and his friends Patrick Star (Danny Skinner) and Sandy Cheeks (Lilli Cooper) trying to save their hometown, Bikini Bottom, from destruction. But the plotting of Plankton (Nick Blaemire) is trying to stop them from saving it. I thought this was a super fun show. I loved it. It might be one of my favorite musicals this year! I loved the variety of songs and how they transformed the entire theater into a huge SpongeBob extravaganza of awesomeness.

I liked the song "Daddy Knows Best" (by Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and I was just blown away during this song by Pearl's (Emmy Raver-Lampman) singing voice. The song was all about how Mr. Krabs (Carlos Lopez) didn't care about anything but money. It wasn't just funny; you also felt sorry for Pearl because her dad was really not paying attention to her and didn't seem to care about her very much. The song was really good and when Pearl started singing her solo, I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of her voice. It was very powerful.

The song "(I Guess I) Miss You" immediately clicked in my head when it started because immediately I knew it was the John Legend song and I like John Legend songs a lot, so I know his style. When a sad song starts playing in a SpongeBob musical, you know John Legend did that. The song was actually very sweet and it made SpongeBob and Patrick seem very human. On the show they are usually just goofballs, but in the musical they seem to have actual complicated feelings. In this song they were sorry that they left each other's side, but they were still mad and hurt because of each other. I do really like their friendship; they really seem to be BFFs like in the song "BFF" (by Plain White T's), which was basically about how they were BFFs and they would never part from each other. But that is when they find out the world is going to end and then they completely freak out even though in the song it seems like they are saying that as long as they are together they will never be afraid. I found that absolutely hilarious, and that was complete SpongeBob humor in a nutshell.

"Chop to the Top" (by Lady Antebellum) was a very fun song. It was fun because the choreography was super big and crazy and the set (by David Zinn) worked really well with it because this part of the set, carts of boxes, was moving all the time. During the entire song somehow SpongeBob and Sandy had flawless vocals even as they were climbing up a cardboard-box mountain of terror. And I know what you are thinking, "Really? SpongeBob having flawless vocals?" But I think that even though SpongeBob talks like a funny maniac in the T.V. show and the musical, I think it was a good idea to have SpongeBob not sing goofily because if you had to listen to all of that you would probably go crazy.

The whole look of the set and the costumes (by David Zinn) was awesome. Mrs. Puff (Abby C. Smith) had a fabulous costume; it was like a huge coat that made her look like a puffer fish--and that is a compliment! And Squidward's (Gavin Lee) costume was amazing because he had four legs like Squidward on the show, but they all moved, not two of them were just dangling around. I also really loved the Rube Goldberg machines. They sent down orange balls and someone in the cast would have to block them. It undercut the threat of the destruction a lot, but I think that is very good for the age of audience they are aiming at and I thought it was hilarious.

I really liked Karen the Computer (Stephanie Hsu) and Plankton. I thought they were an adorable couple and they were also hilarious. Oh, and both of them are pretty much evil. SpongeBob has always been famous for their slightly "adult" jokes, like in the musical they had a few references to Karen and Plankton's love life, which were very funny to me because it is a computer and a tiny plankton. I don't really understand how that works. I think their child would be a purple-haired plankton with glasses and a beehive who has a hard drive.

My favorite song, possibly in the world, is "I'm Not a Loser" (by They Might Be Giants). It was Squidward doing a tap dance routine. My life is complete. Squidward sang this entire song about people bullying him when he was a kid and how now he is going to show how amazing he is--in song! And he tap danced with all four of his feet! My mom was bouncing in her seat and rocking the entire row because she was so happy this was happening. [Ed. note: This is true.] I felt the exact same way. I just wasn't so physical about it. Squidward and a very colorful chorus line of sea anemones were dancing their hearts out on that stage and it just made me so happy to see this happening. I loved it so very much; I'm still smiling because of it.

People who would like this show are people who like Rube Goldberg machines, computers with beehives, and tap-dancing cephalopods. I really really loved this show. I think children and adults will love this so much. I absolutely loved it with a passion.

Photos: Joan Marcus

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