Reviewed by Aaron Gomez
'The SpongeBob Musical,' a whimsical, live action version of Nickelodeon's popular cartoon, opened today for it's Pre-Broadway run. The Oriental Theatre has been meticulously transformed, by designer David Zinn, into the vibrantly colored SpongeBob world of Bikini Bottom. There is no detail missed in this ocean floor set design which extends out into the audience and up the side balconies.
The show's opening number "Bikini Bottom Day" is an instant favorite and introduces us to the energetic cast playing a vast array of ocean life. The very talented Ethan Slater brings SpongeBob to life with such infectious enthusiasm you can't help but feel like a kid again. His song "(Just A) Simple Sponge" written by Panic! At the Disco is one of the highlights of the show's many numbers. The brilliant Gavin Lee perfectly plays the cynical Squidward and steals the show with his glitzy, Broadway-style, showstopping tap number "I'm Not a Loser" written by They Might Be Giants.
A couple songs felt out of place and a few characters were a bit over-used and distracted from the main plot line. The story could be tweaked a bit to include a little more of Squidward with his dry wit, self-pity and misery against the naive, optimistic and goofy SpongeBob. It would also be nice if we got to see a typical day in the life of SpongeBob and get to actually know SpongeBob before the story takes off.
The simplistic but inventive costumes of David Zinn and creative direction by Tina Landau coupled with the diverse collection of original songs make this a must-see musical for all.