Everyone's favorite sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea is now making a home at Broadway's Palace Theatre. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review of "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Are you ready kids? My experience with "SpongeBob" is, naturally, through my children — huge fans who still sing the theme song.
And if you're a fan, this one's a boat load of fun.
Given the cartoon's manic vibe, it seemed impossible to me that "SpongeBob" would fly — or make that swim — on the stage. How to translate the wacky animated creatures into live bodies was an obviously daunting task, not to mention capturing the rather subversive humor that children find so appealing.
Well, hats off to director Tina Landau and her gifted company for being able to ride the wave so entertainingly. Enhanced by pitch-perfect sound effects, they managed to replicate the loony shenanigans of the Bikini Bottom dwellers, all the while making it somewhat palatable for adult tastes.
And that's not all. The score features original songs from some of the biggest names in music: David Bowie, Aerosmith, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, and the list goes on and on. That's most certainly a gift to the adults in the room, some of whom might otherwise find the entire exercise wearisome and chaotic.
The book by Kyle Jarrow is a clever melding of the narrow cartoon storylines with the more expansive needs for Broadway. SpongeBob, Sandy, and Patrick join forces to save the day after a volcanic eruption spells imminent doom.
Casting is key, of course, and there's no disappointing here. All of the leads embody their cartoon counterparts impressively while singing and dancing with ease. Wesley Taylor's evil genius Sheldon Plankton is a blast. Gavin Lee as Squidward tap-dancing to "I'm Not A Loser" by They Might Be Giants is a solid winner. And best of all, Ethan Slater's nasally SpongeBob nails the character's silly shtick all the while giving him a most welcome heart.
My one big qualm is the running time; 2.5 hours of "SpongeBob" may be more than some kids can absorb. That aside, if you're up for a little anarchic fun, dive right in.