by Sam Maher
If you've ever actually listened when someone says "Hear me out...", then please let this be the biggest "hear me out" of all time. SpongeBob SquarePants, the new Broadway musical, is extremely, staggeringly, extraordinarily, and deliriously good. If it isn't my favorite show I've ever seen, it's definitely in my All-Time Top 5. I had never seen a single episode of the tv show before going into the theater on that fateful night and am now 100% a SpongeBob Fan 4 Lyfe. Theater doesn't get much better than this.
5 REASONS TO SEE It IMMMMMMMEDIATELY!:
1. Tina Landau's direction will full-on make you believe in magic again. Tina takes an animated television show and makes it work perfectly on a Broadway stage. Sure, Nickolodeon's multimillion dollar budget helps with production values, but Tina ensures the show constantly puts artistic vision and integrity above any potential commercial nonsense. The best part? She's made it a show for adults that kids will also enjoy instead of the other way around. Tina Landau is, quite simply, a genius!
2. Ethan Slater. Say it again: Ethan. Slater. YOU ARE NOT READY for how good he is in this role. We've got Angela Lansbury as Mame, Ben Platt as Evan Hansen, Carol Channing as Dolly, and now Ethan Slater as SpongeBob. Yep, he's that good!
3. Jai'Len Christine Li Josey. There are literally, like, 7 people on Earth who can sing like her. This 18-year-old future megastar plays Pearl Krabs and her voice will BLOW YOUR EFFING MIND. Like, seriously...you will be stopped dead in your tracks every time she opens her mouth. Just like a Tony nominee sitting behind me who shouted "WHAT THE HELL?!?" when Jai'Len went into one of her big riffs, you'll also be almost angry that someone can sing this well. Check out a video of her singing a song from the show below.
Photos: Joan Marcus
4. The music. Unlike a traditional musical with one composer, SpongeBob has original songs that were written for the show by a list of pop music A-listers: John Legend, Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, The Flaming Lips, David Bowie, T.I, and more! So...are the songs good? Yup! REALLY good.
5. The ensemble. I have too many favorites in the cast to name, but here's some of them: Wesley Taylor from Smash (whose performance as the evil Plankton is something to witness), Stephanie Hsu from Be More Chill as his wife/computer, the luminous Vasthy Mompoint, and 40 Under 40 stars Jon Rua (Hamilton's "I'm a General, wheeeeeeeeee...") and Kelvin Moon Loh. This is one of those shows where you fall in love with every single person on the stage. This is a Broadway dream cast from the smallest ensemble role all the way up our hero himself.
Please just stop what you are doing right now and get tickets to SpongeBob Squarepants on Broadway. Thank you!
Runs through September 16.
Hear Jai'Len Christine Li Josey and Brian Ray Norris rock out a song from the show in the video below.
Sam + 5 ensemble members give you 5 (slightly different!) reasons you need to see the show immediately: