A work of art is only as good as the message it conveys. While many artists try and fail to make a piece more than what it was meant to be, I have yet to see social commentary executed better than “The SpongeBob Musical.”
Yes, you read that correctly. No, you’re not having a stroke. “The SpongeBob Musical” not only exists, but it may be the best satire of the decade.
Curtains rise and we see the familiar yet fresh setting, Bikini Bottom. The musical has a makeshift set with a majority of the props and pieces seeming to be recycled from everyday items, adding to the charm. The lighting moves ever so subtly to emulate the motion of the ocean. You remember the simple pleasures of wasting away weekends in front of the TV. Try as you might, your Gen Z cynicism is melted away by a tide of nostalgia drowning your heart only to be rescued by the shrill tones of one SpongeBob SquarePants, played be the miraculously square Lorenzo Pugliese. After catching up with your favorite fish-folk, the plot is set into motion. And what, you may ask, is the plot of a SpongeBob musical? The heckin’ apocalypse of course.
After resident scientist, Sandy Cheeks (Daria Pilar Redus), uses science to figure out that a volcanic eruption is two days away, the entire town loses their collective mind. It is then up to SpongeBob and his friends to stop the volcano that would destroy Bikini Bottom and prove he is, in fact, “manager material.”
“The SpongeBob Musical” uses its jovial tone and familiar characters not only to raise awareness of social issues but also to poke fun at them. A personal favorite is that after it is revealed that the world is set to end, a school of fish engage in anti-mammal sentiments directed at Sandy in an effort to blame someone. While commentary on ignorance is often heavy-handed and distracting, here it is done in a way that not only spotlights the damage that the “us and them” mindset creates, but makes a mockery of it in the process.
Praises aside, there are scenes that feel unnecessary and several of the musical numbers feel forced. With every semi-important character getting their own song explaining their motivation, it becomes distracting and over bloats the run time. This isn’t to say that every song is bad, however. Where it works, the music is entertaining, catchy, and downright hilarious. Credit must also go to the stellar soundtrack, including songs written by David Bowie, Panic! At The Disco, Steven Tyler, John Legend and the Plain White T’s (the guys who wrote “Hey There Delilah”). The songs are bops and perfectly capture the essence of he who lives in a pineapple under the sea.
Should yee be interested—he said like a pirate—“SpongeBob SquarePants” is playing at the Boch Wang Theatre through October 27, matey!