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The SpongeBob Musical Review

Reviewed by Amelia Bascombe

Disclaimer - ticket was gifted on behalf of London Box Office 

The beloved character that has been a staple in our homes since 1999, Spongebob Sqaurepants is the latest in family favourite characters to be adapted to the stage. Debuting on Broadway in 2017 after a run in Chicago, the show over here is directed by Tara Wilkinson with a book by Kyle Jarrow. An array of talent is behind the original songs including the likes of Cyndi Lauper, John Legend and members of Aerosmith.  With such a stacked cast and creative crew, is this production a sink or swim?

The cast of The SpongeBob musical. Photo by Mark Senior

Now I must admit I was never the biggest fan of the show growing up, and so I was a bit dubious when it first started with a pirate being escorted off stage by fake security. However, as it got into its grove, the show just kept getting better. Act two was stronger than act one, both in script and performances. Sometimes it can take a while to fully flesh out characters and for the audience to understand their motivations. The cast is made up of talents that are destined to take the UK theatre scene by storm, and I can’t wait to see what they all do next. The plot was easy to follow for someone who isn’t a massive fan of the source material and it’s a completely new storyline. There were some inside jokes that got a little lost on me but it didn’t matter in terms of keeping up with the story.

The biggest of shout-outs goes to ‘Simple Sponge’ which was the vocal performance of the entire production. One of my favourite staging moments, the use of lighting and movement was certainly the best part of the first act, with the audience giving an incredibly extended round of applause. I cannot wait to see what Lewis Cornay goes on to do - he is destined for the greatest of futures.

BFF was also a highlight, and Irfan Damani presented Patrick Star as a well rounded character throughout, sticking to his original motivations and building upon them as the story progressed. The trio with Cornay and Chrissie Bhima as Sandy had great chemistry and worked seamlessly together.
Divina De Campo’s Plankton was brilliantly evil and her Lafayette style rap was an unexpected triumph. Tom Read Wilson’s tap number was right up my alley and he was a fantastic comedic relief character. Furthermore, Sarah Freer and Hannah Lowther had some amazing vocal moments as Pearl and Karen respectfully, and shone beautifully as part of the ensemble.

Lewis Cornay as SpongeBob. Photo by Mark Senior

Unfortunately, the first act lacked in original humour and the same jokes were used on several different occasions. The same goes for the choreography, which was inherently stronger after the interval. The ensemble was utilised in more unique ways in the second act and they were given more of a chance to shine.

On the other hand, there was a great use of lighting by Ben Bull and props to aid the comedy value, particularly the microphone used to make all the sound effects. The bubbles towards the end were an especially welcomed value; adding a touch of magic for all ages. The use of the band on stage, also doubling as the Electric Skates, was a good change from the Broadway version and I enjoyed them appearing in various scenes.

The production seems to follow the same premise as the Broadway version, just with half the budget. The costuming for Squidward was the only one true to Broadway, with the UK updating the rest to be more like replicas of the tv show. As someone who hasn’t seen much of the source material, the London design by Sarah Mercad√© made it easier for me to distinguish characters, but some of them did come across like knock offs.

Overall, the show is a proper feel good party. It’s a great escape from everyday life and can be enjoyed by a large demographic. The show has been touring the UK now since April and closes in London on the 27th of August, with two more tour dates before the show officially comes to an end. Get down to Bikini Bottom while you still can!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Tickets are available from https://www.spongebobstage.com/
Find out more about London Box Office by visiting their website https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk/

Photo by Mark Senior

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