5 reasons to go see ‘SpongeBob’ on stage this week

Bikini Bottom has arrived in Dayton.

The colorful, high-octane, incredibly silly and tender Ohio premiere of 2017’s “The SpongeBob Musical” continues through Sunday, Nov. 24, at the Schuster Center, part of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.

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Based on the popular animated Nickelodeon children series, “The SpongeBob Musical” chronicles the adventures of the cheerful sponge and faithful Krusty Krab fry cook enjoying life under the sea with his buddies including Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, and Squidward Q. Tentacles.

When a volcano threatens to destroy Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy join forces to save the day but not without experiencing a few roadblocks. Here are five reasons why you should catch this feel-good, family-friendly national tour.

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As SpongeBob, Lorenzo Pugliese, perfectly capturing the animated character’s mannerisms and vocal patterns, is a delightful bundle of energy and athleticism. Beau Bradshaw, a strong singer with goofy charm, is a fine fit for Patrick, SpongeBob’s chief, dimwitted sidekick. Daria Pilar Redus brings endearing folksiness and determination to her portrayal of Sandy.


An enjoyable part of the show’s appeal is its flavorful Tony-nominated tunes composed by a laundry list of artists representing multiple genres ranging from country (Lady Antebellum), pop (Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, Panic! At the Disco) and rock (David Bowie, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry) to hip-hop (T.I.), gospel (Yolanda Adams) and R&B (John Legend) among others. There’s even skillful tap dancing in “I’m Not a Loser,” an example of good old-fashioned Broadway razzmatazz choreographed by Christopher Gattelli. “The concept of different (composers) made sense to me because the TV show includes so many genres and kind of bounces all over the place stylistically and the score should reflect that,” said director Tina Landau, whose musical theater directorial credits include off-Broadway’s “Floyd Collins,” Broadway’s “Bells Are Ringing” and Wright State University’s world premiere of “States of Independence.” “The score needed cohesion but it also needed variety and surprise.”


Landau’s superb, magical, larger-than-life stagecraft, a remarkably refreshing departure from the intimate, scaled-down shows that have typically defined her career, displays her astute knack for character-driven stories and relationships. Her inventive, imaginative vision for SpongeBob and Sandy’s journey to and navigation through Mount Humongous is just one indication of why she duly received a Tony nomination. “This show combines my love of experimental, avant-garde theatre as well as accessibility and pop culture,” she said. “I became enchanted with it.”

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In addition to Landau’s direction, the eye-catching work of scenic and costume designer David Zinn magnifies the show’s whimsical underwater playground essence. Zinn won the Tony for his marvelous set, a key component within a first-rate technical team including lighting designer Kevin Adams, projection designer Peter Nigrini, sound designer Walter Trarbach, foley designer Mike Dobson, hair/wig designer Charles G. LaPointe, and makeup designer Joe Dulude II.


Librettist Kyle Jarrow spotlights positive themes of friendship, optimism and teamwork, but his work also serves as a cautionary tale reflecting current angst and division. “We had to come up with a story with high stakes that could be engaging and what is more high stakes than the end of the world,” Landau said. “Just by coincidence, in the times we live, that story ended up being timely. What happens to a community when they are overcome by fear and suspicion? How does a group of people turn in on themselves, blame each other and fall apart, and ultimately come to remember that their greatest gifts are each other and their differences? It’s unfortunately … reflective of the world we live in.”

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What: "The SpongeBob Musical"

Where: Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St., Dayton

When: Through Nov. 24; 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $26-$104

Tickets: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com

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