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Draper Journal

Aye, aye captain! Off Broadway Theatre presents ‘SpongeBob the Musical’

Jun 03, 2024 02:51PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

From left to right, SpongeBob (Boston Smith), Squidward (Shea Potter) and Patrick (Brett Andersen) strike a pose in Off Broadway Theatre’s “SpongeBob the Musical.” (Photo courtesy of Sandy Thuy Ann Jensen/Off Broadway Theatre)

Off Broadway Theatre brings the underwater world of Bikini Bottom to life in “SpongeBob the Musical” this month on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre. The hit musical comedy, which landed on Broadway in 2017, is based on the long-running Nickelodeon animated series, “SpongeBob SquarePants.” As the cast members explained, however, this show is much more than a cartoon.

"It's not what you think it's going to be," director Holly Anderson said. "It really is about the characters and the journeys they go on—and the music they sing as they go."

“It’s funny and very heartwarming,” Ever Lord said. Lord, one of the actors who plays Sandy Cheeks, added, “It has more depth to it than people would think.”

The cast of characters includes all of the animated regulars including SpongeBob, the cheerful sea sponge, his not-too-bright but lovable sea star pal Patrick, miserly restaurant-owner Mr. Krabs and his conniving nemesis Plankton, the adventurous underwater-dwelling squirrel Sandy Cheeks, and many more. The plot centers on what happens when a volcano threatens to destroy their town, Bikini Bottom.

Hannah Zumbrunnen, who plays Sandy in alternating performances, observed that each character reacts differently to the impending disaster. “How people respond in an emergency is how they show their true colors,” she said. “Some people try to help and others find someone to blame.”

While SpongeBob and Sandy try to find a solution to save the town, Mr. Krabs and Plankton, come up with ways to exploit the worried sea creatures to make money. A group of sardines decide that the unwitting Patrick is the wise leader who will save them from the volcano while other characters react in unexpected ways. 

Shea Potter, who plays SpongeBob’s sarcastic coworker, Squidward, asked rhetorically, “If you had one day left, what would you do? Squidward takes the chance to perform. I think that he’s showing his true self.” As the multi-legged character, Potter performs “a little tap, soft-shoe number” to the song, “I’m Not a Loser,” by They Might Be Giants. 

In fact, the SpongeBob score consists of songs written for the show by a number of well-known rock and pop stars. The show includes songs by John Legend, The Flaming Lips, Sara Bareilles, Plain White Ts, Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie and Panic! At the Disco among others.

The cast members spoke of how much they enjoy the music. Brett Andersen, in the role of Patrick Star, said that one of his favorite songs is “BFF” by Plain White Ts. “I get to sing that with SpongeBob,” he said. “It just connects with everyone who has ever had a best friend. It gets some laughs and smiles out of everyone.” 

Boston Smith is enjoying every minute of playing the lead role. “SpongeBob is a character I have loved since I was a kid,” he said. “I think SpongeBob is a lot deeper than people give him credit for. He has so much love and enthusiasm for others and for everything he does. It’s refreshing to see a character that embodies love and positivity.” 

Zumbrunnen explained, “Playing a character who is a cartoon is not any different from playing a regular character.” 

Potter expressed a similar sentiment. “I consider acting the study of empathy. It doesn’t matter the character you are. You have an opportunity to put yourself in that character’s position. It’s a process of discovery. I play a bitter squid, I think that’s fun too!”

Off Broadway Theatre shows are known for their freewheeling, improvised comedy. Lord explained that in this production, “the improv is scaled back from what Off Broadway Theatre usually does.” 

Director Anderson feels that the show is a good fit for the theater company even without as much of the improvisation. “We’re giving it the Off Broadway Theatre style and flair which makes it so much funnier,” she said. 

“While it’s based off a cartoon, it’s not just a children’s show,” cast member Andersen said. “It’s a family show. There’s something for everybody to enjoy.”

Off Broadway Theatre presents "SpongeBob the Musical" on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre May 31 through June 29. Performances are Monday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 S. 900 East. For tickets visit λ