For many people, the holiday season is about relaxing and enjoying the break away from school or work. For many it may mean vacation to a sunny location in the Caribbean, while for others it may be a vacation back home to visit family. Unfortunately for some, work does not stop, such as the case of my mother who was booked into work for the entire holiday season (including New Years). When these cases happen, you do what you can with the few days off that you get. Luckily for us, my mother was able to get 4 days off work. We seized the opportunity, packed our car, and set out to the city that never sleeps.
The wonders of New York. A city that is constantly on the move. The reason we chose New York is because it was close enough to drive and my brother was fortunate enough to have an interview at NYU. We decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and make a vacation out of my brothers Med School application. We did everything a tourist could do in New York (within 2 days of course). We went to Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the Heart of Harlem, the Freedom Tower, and to finish it off, Broadway.
Broadway is truly magical, not only because of the incredible raw talent that surges through the theatres, but because of the tremendous amount of light that emerges from the streets. Why do you think they call it the city that never sleeps? Countless amounts of television screens illuminate the streets to the point where it looks like daylight out all day long. Walking down the bright streets and you eventually make your way to the ever famous Palace Theatre, where up and coming broadway stars make their debut. On the menu: SpongeBob: The Musical. Let’s get one thing straight, I did not choose to see SpongeBob. All credit goes to my 23 (mentally 12) year old brother. No really. He deserves the credit. It was insanely amazing.
First lets talk about the scenery. Simply breath taking. The scenery was very cartoon-ish with incredibly bright neon colours that created an ocular overload. All of the props that were used, as well as being colourful and pretty, appeared hand made from miscellaneous objects like traffic cones, cups, ladders and more. The scene also had an interactive aspect. Without giving away the plot, important props were actually placed strategically around where the audience was located. On the scenery alone, the SpongeBob musical is worth checking out and seeing for yourself just how creative producers can be.
Now onto the score. Going in to see SpongeBob on a whim, I was expecting the usual happy-go-lucky optimistic ambience that SpongeBob is so famous for. I was not disappointed. Not only were they incredibly joyful, many of them were also deviously erratic. The musical numbers allowed for the performers to use their incredibly vivid scenery to their fullest potential. Whether it was SpongeBob gleefully jumping around exclaiming the wonderful Bikini Bottom Day or Plankton deceitfully convincing the town of his master plan to leave when The Going Gets Tough, the musical score perfectly captured the personalities of the original SpongeBob crew. Of course, none of the musical numbers could have been possible without the writers behind the amazing songs. A team of writers including greats like John Legend, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, and David Bowie, just to name a few.
Saving the best for last, the cast. An incredible casting job. The star of the show, Ethan Slater, did an astounding job at fully capturing an animated character as famous as SpongeBob Squarepants. He brought annoying optimism, quirky mannerisms, and the very characteristic, high pitched voice that is SpongeBob. Slater did a fantastic job at portraying our beloved sponge, which is no easy feat. His on-stage chemistry with co-star Danny Skinner (playing on-screen best friend Patrick Star) was also what made both their performances incredibly memorable. Danny’s incredible talent also came through with the portrayal of Patrick, adopting the lazy mannerism, moronic jokes, and all over body and facial expressions. He also managed to pull of Patricks characteristic “emptiness” with his blank stares into the audience. Even a character as increasingly popular Squidward Tenticles was brought to life beautifully by Gavin Lee, who himself is not shy to broadway. His ability to channel Squidward’s pessimistic personality while also wonderfully capturing his oddly random narcissism when it comes to playing his clarinet. Gavin also proves just how talented he really is with a beautifully rich performance that involved singing, dancing, complex choreography, and tap dancing in his solo number I’m Not A Loser. Even Gavin’s costume encased the wonders of Squidward’s four-tenticled legs. While the voices of these iconic characters may be hard to nail, Brain Tay Norris hit the nail on the head with his portrayal of Eugene Krabs. With the perfect voice and star-struck gaze towards money, Brain did a wonderful job bringing the money-driven Krab we’ve all come to know. No easy feat, with his arch nemesis running around causing chaos. Perhaps it was his love for taking down Mr. Krab’s prestigious fast food restaurant establishment, his love for the diabolical, or simply because Karen ordered him, Wesley Taylor perfectly portrayed the infamous Sheldon Plankton. All down to detail, Wesley was able to perfectly project the mischievous and nefarious behaviour that characterizes the one celled organism that is Plankton. Lastly, who could forget the performance of the one and only land mammal residing under the sea, Lilli Cooper as Sandy Cheeks. Lilli was unforgettable in her portrayal of Sandy, taking on a southern Texas accent, raw Kung-fu power, and an on-stage chemistry with co-star Ethan and Danny that brought to life the iconic trio.
All in all, seeing SpongeBob on broadway was an incredible experience and would recommend it to everyone. Hats off to the incredibly cast. They deserve the world for their performances. Of all the musicals I have ever seen, this one is one of the best. 9.5/10.