The Broadway Musical (originally titled The SpongeBob Musical) is a stage musical, co-conceived and directed by Tina Landau with songs by various artists and a book by Kyle Jarrow. It is based on the Nickelodeon animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants and made its world premiere in June 2016 at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago. The musical premiered on Broadway at the Palace Theatre in December 2017.
The musical opened to critical acclaim. With twelve Tony Award nominations, it tied for most-nominated production at the 2018 72nd Tony Awards with Mean Girls.
The show closed at the Palace Theatre on September 16, 2018 due to construction at the theatre. A United States tour is planned for 2019. At the time of its closing, it had played 29 previews and 327 regular performances.
Patchy the Pirate, SpongeBob's #1 fan, sits on the stage after the audience has taken their seats. He reveals he has traveled from Encino, California to catch the musical. Two security guards tell Patchy to leave, as the show is about to begin. Patchy objects, but gets kicked out as Patchy claims he is a victim of pirate discrimination and sings a protest chant. One of the guards apologizes, then tells the audience to enjoy the show.
SpongeBob SquarePants awakens and welcomes the day with his pet snail, Gary ("Bikini Bottom Day"). He greets various friends in his hometown of Bikini Bottom— including his best friend Patrick, his neighbor Squidward, and his friend Sandy Cheeks — as he walks to the Krusty Krab restaurant. At work, his boss Mr. Krabs tells his daughter Pearl that she will manage the restaurant one day. With Pearl uninterested, SpongeBob hints his desire of being the manager. Mr. Krabs laughs at the idea, telling SpongeBob he is "just a simple sponge"("Bikini Bottom Day (Reprise 1)"). Then, a violent tremor suddenly rocks the entire town.
A news report reveals that the tremor was caused by a nearby volcano (Mount Humongous) that will erupt ("No Control"). SpongeBob cheers up an upset Patrick by reiterating that they are best friends forever ("BFF"). With the town in a panic over the impending doom, married villains Plankton and Karen try to convince the citizens to enter an escape pod that ensures safety. But, the two have a secret scheme planned as they will hypnotize the citizens in the pod into liking the chum that they serve at their restaurant, the Chum Bucket ("When the Going Gets Tough"). The townspeople, unknowingly, support this idea and decide to hold a last-minute music concert to raise money. Squidward's idea of his one-man show is immediately shut down. Instead, Pearl suggests that the famous rock band, the Electric Skates, play at the concert. Everyone agrees and Squidward is named manager of the event.
SpongeBob, however, is against the idea of leaving town and believes the citizens should save Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob thinks back on Mr. Krabs' words from earlier and wonders if he could save the town ("Just a Simple Sponge"). He goes to Patrick and Sandy for help. Mr. Krabs sees the upcoming disaster as a money-making opportunity, holding an "apocalypse sale". Pearl worries about her father's greed, believing that it overshadows his care for her ("Daddy Knows Best").
Meanwhile, SpongeBob convinces Patrick and Sandy to team up, climb the volcano, and stop it from erupting with an invention Sandy will build. The friends are determined to succeed ("Hero Is My Middle Name"). Before they start their plan, a group of cultist sardines appear. They found wisdom in Patrick's thoughts at the town meeting and decide to make him their new leader ("Super Star Sea Savior"). Patrick likes the idea and decides to back out of SpongeBob's plan so that he can bask in self-glory, angering SpongeBob. The two fight and end their "BFF" status. After Patrick leaves, Sandy reminds SpongeBob that things are bound to be okay. The entire company reveals their personal thoughts and feelings about the impending disaster ("Tomorrow Is").
Patchy again sneaks onstage, telling the audience that pirates are persecuted by others because of stereotypes ("Poor Pirates"), supported in song by a group of pirates he discovered during the show's first act, wandering into a dive bar in nearby Hell's Kitchen. The theater's security again intervenes to chase Patchy away. SpongeBob wakes up and greets a new day: the day when the volcano is expected to erupt ("Bikini Bottom Day (Reprise 2)"). Bikini Bottom has fallen into anarchy and chaos: the mayor has employed a dictatorship over the people and an angry mob has started to hunt down Sandy, thinking her science is the cause for the volcano's impending eruption. Sandy hides from the mob and shows SpongeBob her invention, the Eruptor Interrupter. They plan to throw it inside the volcano and save the town.
Back in Bikini Bottom, Plankton worries Sandy and Spongebob will successfully climb up the mountain and save the town, but Karen tells him that she found his avalanche maker. She says they can use it to create an avalanche that Spongebob and Sandy won’t survive. The Electric Skates finally arrive ("Bikini Bottom Boogie"). Squidward asks if he can perform with them as an opening act. The band will only allow it if Squidward buys every item on a long shopping list. Meanwhile, SpongeBob and Sandy make their way up the volcano with great difficulty. Sandy tries to lift their spirits by reminding them of what they have learned in karate class about never giving up ("Chop to the Top"). SpongeBob cannot help but think of how he misses Patrick and wishes he was there to help them. In Bikini Bottom, Patrick finds life as a guru unexciting and misses SpongeBob as well, prompting him to leave his followers behind to help SpongeBob ("(I Guess) I Miss You").
Squidward obtains all but one of the items on the Electric Skates' list, so the band refuses to let him perform despite his pleas, calling him a "loser" in the process. Their use of this word causes Squidward—constantly called a loser in childhood to snap back at the band in anger; The band quits. Now alone, Squidward insists that he is not a loser and performs a song with a tap dance number and back-up chorus in his imagination ("I'm Not a Loser"). Back on the mountain, Plankton and Karen use the avalanche maker to make the avalanche. SpongeBob starts to fall when Patrick saves him with the jetpack Sandy invented. The two reaffirm their friendship and follow Sandy to the summit of the mountain. When they reach the top, neither Sandy nor Patrick are able to reach the rim where they need to throw the device in. They turn to SpongeBob, who doubts his skills ("Just a Simple Sponge (Reprise)"). They remind him that he is the only one who can squeeze through tight areas and that his optimism has gotten them this far. With new determination, SpongeBob throws the Eruptor Interrupter in. They head back to Bikini Bottom and see if their plan worked.
Due to the band being gone, there will be no concert or escape pod, which causes anarchy. SpongeBob tries to calm everyone down, insisting that whatever happens, they have each other ("Best Day Ever"). When the time comes for the volcano to erupt, everyone braces for their deaths. The time passes without an eruption, signaling that the Eruptor Interrupter has worked. With Bikini Bottom safe, everyone decides that they should celebrate by having a new concert with Pearl and Squidward being the leads. Patchy descends from above on a rope, having finally managed to sneak into the show, making the cast reluctantly agree to let him be a part of the finale as the townspeople welcome the brand new day ("Bikini Bottom Day (Reprise 3)").
During the curtain call, the cast performs one final song.("SpongeBob Squarepants Theme Song")
Lyrics for the show were being written by January 2014, as The Flaming Lips' lead singer Wayne Coyne mentioned through Twitter on January 16. Plans for developing the show were first announced at Nickelodeon's upfront on February 25, 2015. The upfront presentation included a performance of the musical's opening number, "Bikini Bottom Day." On February 26, Nickelodeon's chief operating officer Sarah Kirshbaum Levy told the Associated Press that the show was "not definite."
In August 2015, Nickelodeon announced that the show would premiere in Chicago before a Broadway run in late 2016. Its director, book author, and several of the musicians involved were also announced. The full cast list was released in April 2016. The majority of the cast members play more than one character. Rehearsals for the show's debut in Chicago began on April 11 in New York. Throughout early 2016, Nickelodeon executives met with Broadway theater owners to arrange its Broadway premiere. Michael Reidel of New York Post stated that Broadway representatives were "impressed" after seeing a presentation of the show.
In late May 2016, technical rehearsals for the show were conducted. Chris Jones of Chicago Tribune stated that Nickelodeon was concerned about "an incomplete SpongeBob costume [making] it into a photograph, spoiling a planned big reveal." In June 2016, Gordon Cox of Variety reported that the musical's budget was between $15 and $20 million.
The musical opened at the Oriental Theatre, Chicago on June 19, 2016. The musical premiered on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on November 6, 2017 in previews, officially on December 4, 2017. Choreography is by Christopher Gattelli, scenic and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Kevin Adams, projection design by Peter Nigrini, sound design by Walter Trarbach and hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe. The musical closed on September 16, 2018, after 327 regular performances, due to renovation of the Palace Theatre. The musical will have a North American national tour beginning fall 2019. Playbill noted that "Director Tina Landau, whose visual style and unconventional use of performance spaces are a hallmark of her ambitious, ensemble-driven works, is the driving force behind SpongeBob on Broadway."
Playbill noted "The cast and creators of 'SpongeBob Squarepants' are heading into their final weeks of performances at the Palace Theatre with encouraging box office figures.... The production brought in $975,286 for the week ending September 2 . While that number doesn't surpass the production's million dollar benchmark, it's an encouraging figure for the well-received musical."
"Bikini Bottom Day" by Jonathan Coulton – SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, Mr. Krabs, Plankton, Karen & Company
"Bikini Bottom Day (Reprise 1)" by Coulton – SpongeBob
"No Control" by David Bowie & Brian Eno – Perch Perkins, SpongeBob, Mr. Krabs, Pearl, Squidward, Patrick, Sandy & Company
"BFF" by Plain White T's – SpongeBob and Patrick
"When the Going Gets Tough" by T.I. – Plankton, Karen, SpongeBob & Company
"Just a Simple Sponge" by Panic! at the Disco – SpongeBob & Ensemble
"Daddy Knows Best" by Alex Ebert – Mr. Krabs, Pearl, Electric Skates, Ensemble
"Hero Is My Middle Name" by Cyndi Lauper – SpongeBob, Patrick & Sandy
"Super Sea Star Savior" by Yolanda Adams – Patrick & Sardines
"Tomorrow Is" by The Flaming Lips – Sandy, SpongeBob, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Plankton, Karen & Company
"Poor Pirates" by Sara Bareilles – Patchy & Pirates
"Bikini Bottom Day (Reprise 2)" by Coulton – SpongeBob
"Bikini Bottom Boogie" by Steven Tyler & Joe Perry – The Electric Skates, Pearl & Company
"Chop to the Top" by Lady Antebellum – Sandy & SpongeBob
"(I Guess I) Miss You" by John Legend – Patrick & SpongeBob
"I'm Not a Loser" by They Might Be Giants – Squidward & Company
"Just a Simple Sponge (Reprise)" by Panic! at the Disco – SpongeBob
"Best Day Ever" by Andy Paley & Tom Kenny – SpongeBob & Company
"Bikini Bottom Day (Reprise 3)" by Coulton – SpongeBob & Company
"SpongeBob SquarePants Theme Song" by Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg & Blaise Smith – SpongeBob & Company
The show's Tony-nominated orchestrations by Tom Kitt utilized an orchestra of 18 for the Broadway production. In addition, during "Finale: Bikini Bottom Day" each of the company played their own instrument onstage (Spongebob: ukelele, Plankton: crash cymbals, Karen: glockenspiel, etc.)
SpongeBob SquarePants Original Cast recording
On June 28, 2016, it was announced that the Chicago cast would record a cast album in early August with Masterworks Broadway producing the album. On September 14, 2017, the full cast recording was made available on the NPR website. The cast recording was released in its physical form in stores as well as on streaming sites on September 22, 2017, two months prior to the show's Broadway premiere.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Original Cast Recording
Soundtrack album cast recording by
Original Cast of SpongeBob SquarePants
22 September 2017
Showtunes, Musical comedy, Indie rock, Alternative rock
All tracks written and composed by various artists listed below (additional music, arrangements and orchestrations by Tom Kitt; additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton.)
1. "Prologue" 1:04
2. "Bikini Bottom Day" (Jonathan Coulton) 6:12
3. "No Control" (David Bowie and Brian Eno) 3:17
4. "BFF" (Plain White T's) 2:41
5. "When the Going Gets Tough" (T.I.) 2:47
6. "(Just a) Simple Sponge" (Panic! at the Disco) 3:57
7. "Daddy Knows Best" (Alex Ebert) 2:53
8. "Hero Is My Middle Name" (Cyndi Lauper) 3:15
9. "Super Sea Star Savior" (Yolanda A ams) 4:44
10. "Tomorrow Is" (The Flaming Lips) 3:31
11. "Poor Pirates" (Sara Bareilles) 3:49
12. "Bikini Bottom Boogie" (Steven Tyler and Joe Perry) 2:11
13. "Chop to the Top" (Lady Antebellum) 2:26
14. "(I Guess I) Miss You" (John Legend) 3:41
15. "I'm Not a Loser" (They Might Be Giants) 4:38
16. "Best Day Ever" (Andy Paley and Tom Kenny) 4:19
17. "Bikini Bottom Day (Reprise)" (Coulton) 2:04
18. "SpongeBob SquarePants Theme Song" (Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg and Blaise Smith) 0:47
Original Chicago Cast (2016)
Original Broadway Cast (2017)
Brian Ray Norris
Jai'len Christine Li Josey
Abby C. Smith
Gary the Snail
Tom Kenny (prerecorded)
Allan K. Washington
Patchy the Pirate
Jason Michael Snow
Kelvin Moon Loh
Old Man Jenkins
Larry the Lobster
Allan K. Washington
Fred the Fish
The Electric Skates
Kyle Matthew Hamilton
Tom Kenny (prerecorded)
Catherine Ricafort replaced Stephanie Hsu as Karen Plankton on June 19, 2018.
The Chicago production received positive reviews. Dean Richards of WGN-TV gave it an A+, writing that "the story is multi-layered for kids and adults. It all adds up to one of the most fun, well produced, and best acted shows Chicago has seen in a long time." Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune praised the cast (particularly Slater, Skinner, Cooper, and Lee) and the production values. He wrote positively of the show's songs, writing that the musical's "biggest gamble—a score made up of singles by different songwriters and unified by orchestrator Tom Kitt—works quite beautifully." Nonetheless, he warned "the transition to Broadway now needs to involve a dialing back of excess and more attention to truth—Bikini Bottom truth, sure, but metaphoric human veracity." Similarly, Steve Oxman in Variety magazine praises the entertainment, invention and "terrifically talented cast" but argues for a "slight shift in world view" to truly engage the broadest audience. In the Chicago Sun-Times' review, Hedy Weiss expressed praise for the set design's creativity and the coherency, but felt that it was almost too extravagant; she wrote that the musical "exhausts itself long before it's over." Kendall Ashley of Nerdist described the set as "pretty darn impressive" and called the decision not to use extensive makeup on the actors "interesting." Barbara Vitello of the Daily Herald also commended the actors' costumes and performances, stating that the "imaginative costumes that add a punch of color to the glittering sea green and aquamarine backdrop are among the delights."
The Broadway production was equally praised. Ben Brantley of The New York Times, called it a "ginormous giggle of a show", and particularly praised Slater's performance as the titular character. Marilyn Stasio of Variety stated the show provided a good amount of "giddy, goofy fun" for all audiences.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
Outstanding New Broadway Musical
Outstanding Book of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani, Lil' C, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Andy Paley, Tom Kenny, Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg, Blaise Smith & Tom Kit
Outstanding Director of a Musical
Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Outstanding Set Design (Play or Musical)
Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical)
Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical)
Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical
Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Outstanding Director of a Musical
Outstanding Set Design for a Musical
Outstanding Wig and Hair
Charles G. LaPointe
Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography
Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show
Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show
Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert, Edward Sharpe,The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum,Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani & Lil' C
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
1 Tied with Bartlett Sher for My Fair Lady