Could “The SpongeBob Musical” — gasp — really be deep?
Onstage at Orlando Repertory Theatre, the adventures of the world’s most beloved animated sponge retain their cartoony vibe. But within the show’s watery depths lie deeper messages that director Jeffrey M. Revels has brought to the floor: Finding a scapegoat is a mere distraction to actually fixing problems, the government and faith don’t all the time have the proper solutions, look to unite and not divide in times of turmoil, and standing up for what is true can make you a hero.
Is it actually attainable to get all that from a speaking sponge who lives in a pineapple and works as a fry cook? It positive is.
The story bubbles along like this: SpongeBob and finest good friend Patrick the starfish live beneath the sea in Bikini Bottom, the place the ever-chipper sponge works at Mr. Krabs’ restaurant and desires of transferring forward, regardless of his boss’s insistence that he’s not management materials.
Disaster strikes when close by volcano Mount Humongous — voted “most more doubtless to kill you” seven years in a row — threatens to erupt.
Rival restaurant proprietor Sheldon J. Plankton and his computer wife hatch a nefarious scheme related to the impending eruption while SpongeBob’s good friend Sandy — a scientist who occurs to be a squirrel — comes up with a plan to save tons of the day.
There’s also the ever-mopey Squidward, who wants to be a star, and a daffy pirate who’s SpongeBob’s greatest fan — characters recognizable to anybody acquainted with the long-running cartoon.
It’s all a part of the off-kilter vibe that has made the present well-liked with kids and adults. That vibe doesn’t always land with maximum impact within the Rep’s production; the pacing dragged some at a current performance and some of the supporting characters’ quirks don’t draw the laughs they might.
But there’s lots to love in lots of the performances, beginning with SpongeBob himself.
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Joel Hunt, who as an elf introduced such giddy vitality to the Rep’s “True North” at Christmastime, turns up his enthusiasm even higher because the perpetually upbeat sponge who expects each morning to lead to the “best day ever.”
Brandon Muñoz-Dominguez is snack-loving Patrick, a job he previously played in Celebration Theatre Company’s 2022 manufacturing of the present. “Muñoz-Dominguez by no means forgets that what Patrick lacks in brainpower he makes up for with coronary heart,” I wrote then and the identical holds true now.
Lizzy Allen rounds out the heroic trio with appealing pluck and moments of weak poignancy as Sandy.
Cliff Price’s scenic design is suitably fanciful, although a trio of movable ladders feels a bit basic on the climax of the plot Tara Kromer’s props, particularly a chorus of sea anemones and SpongeBob’s emotionless pet snail, add colour and fun.
By the greatest way, if my opening paragraphs left you apprehensive your kids are going to obtain some kind of indoctrination from this show or be exposed to some sort of “agenda” — as that sort of worrying seems to be in overdrive these days — don’t be.
The kids at the performance I attended have been too busy laughing at SpongeBob’s humorous noises and oohing at the bubbles floating overhead. They may have realized a lesson that we should be nicer to one another and work together. But that’s additionally a lesson on which plenty of adults could use a refresher.
- Length: 2:30, together with intermission
- Where: Orlando Repertory Theatre, 1001 E. Princeton St. in Orlando
- When: Through April 30
- Cost: $15-$45
- Info: orlandorep.com
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