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Jan 18, 2020

SPONGEBOB: Opening Night

By Broadway Live INSIDER - Michael J. Miller

A scrumptious all-you-can-eat seafood buffet of a show, The SPONGEBOB Musical splashed onto the Lexington Opera House stage tonight for its five-show run. Pescatarians rejoice! This Bikini Bottom blowout brings as much bliss as a bottomless basket of buttery Cheddar Bay biscuits.

Fans of the long-running Nickelodeon TV show were obviously a large part of tonight’s eager audience, but one need not even be familiar with that animated series to enjoy this incarnation.

It probably helps to be somewhat familiar with the premise. Bikini Bottom is the undersea home of SpongeBob and his friends. Things are about to go very badly for them when bad-guy Sheldon Plankton plans to make Mount Humongous erupt, destroying everything in its path. Amidst this hysteria and division, SpongeBob and his pals must come together and rely on each other, self, and truth to win the day.

The sea-worthy cast is led by the amazing Lorenzo Pugliese as SpongeBob. Pugliese only recently graduated from the University of the Arts and his first starring role in a National Tour is an astounding beginning to what will surely be a stellar career. His aerobic, full-throated no-holds-barred performance defies gravity. I think he must take a pass when the Cheddar Bay biscuits come to the table. Thank goodness this tale is under water, because Lorenzo Pugliese is more than a sponge. He’s a THIRST TRAP.

The whole affair, like the TV show, is wacky, surreal, and very, very clever. The creative lighting design and projection, super splashy set design and costumes, and in-it-to-win-it non-Equity cast bring this tiki-themed treasure to life.

The songs are by an all-star team of pop music legends. Not a “jukebox” musical, the tunes from the likes of David Bowie, Brian Eno, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Lady Antebellum and others were written just for this show. Some of the tunes work better than others. My favorite was a full-blown “come to Jesus” throw-down by gospel diva Yolanda Adams.

You’ve probably seen at least a clip of the infamous Squidward Q. Tentacles number in which a chorus of tap-dancing sea anemones joins him on stage in his octopus costume, but seeing it live on stage is something else.

So, grab a fresh plate and loosen your belt. This undersea extravaganza is only in town until Sunday. And it is delicious.

INSIDER TIP: Parents bringing very young kids to this will need to know that it is a full-blown Broadway musical with a typical running time of two hours and twenty minutes. Everything in the show is family-friendly, but this is not a 90 minute “Disney on Ice” kind of event, so plan your restroom breaks and snacks accordingly. Kids in the audience tonight did fine and had a blast.