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  • Marika Page

A Splash of Nostalgia! Diving Under the Sea for The SpongeBob Musical - Review

Production photos by Mark Senior

The excitement in the air was palpable on the opening night of The SpongeBob Musical at the Lyceum. Theatre goers young and old were dressed from head to toe in SpongeBob SquarePants merchandise as they waited in anticipation in the foyer for the auditorium doors to open. Having grown up watching the Nickelodeon hit show, the enthusiasm was contagious. I was looking forward to the show, but equally curious to know what all the fuss was about with this new musical that is currently touring the UK.

Premiering in the USA on Nickelodeon in 1999, Stephen Hillenburg’s show about a sea sponge living in a pineapple under the sea has been hailed as the number one animated show on television and has gone on to premiere in 170 countries. SpongeBob SquarePants is a classic show which has always engaged with all ages, and I can safely say this touring production of The SpongeBob Musical did just that.

Upon entrance to the auditorium, a curtain with undulating waves greeted us. On stage, we saw the Krusty Krab and Chum Bucket establishments. We were officially in Bikini Bottom! The set pieces were creative, and the costumes were dazzling. In addition, the stage and sound effects, incredible songs and interaction from Patchy the Pirate were so much fun. The show was a joy from start to finish.

Production photos by Mark Senior

The moment SpongeBob (played by the brilliant Lewis Cornay) shows up on stage, I grinned from ear to ear. The opening song “Bikini Bottom Day” (written by Jonathan Coulton) reminded me of Hairspray’s “Good Morning Baltimore!” and had all the pizzazz and catchiness of a classic Broadway musical opening number. In fact, I was humming it subconsciously the following day. It is always a good sign when the songs stick in your head!

The show also has numbers written by songwriting legends such as David Bowie and Brian Eno (“No Control”), John Legend (“I Guess I Miss You”), Cyndi Lauper (“Hero Is My Middle Name”) and T.I. (“When The Going Gets Tough”), the latter of which featured RuPaul’s Drag Race UK alum Divina de Campo rapping as the miniscule villain Plankton.

Production photos by Mark Senior

Despite some technical hiccups and perhaps a plot that was a little convoluted to follow at times, the energy of the entire cast was infectious and provided childlike escapism for the entire two hours of the show. A particular highlight were the musicians on stage (instead of the traditional ‘pit orchestra’), who stole the show and interacted with the cast. These incredible musicians sang and danced alongside the ensemble, which highlighted just how entertaining and special this production was. The SpongeBob Musical was simply a fantastic evening for all.

The SpongeBob Musical is currently on tour in the UK with upcoming stops in Belfast, Cardiff, Blackpool, Peterborough, Wolverhampton, Norwich, Leicester, Aberdeen, London (for five weeks at the Southbank Centre), Plymouth and ending in Newcastle in September.


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