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Under the Sea

BY MICHAEL JANSEN MILLER

 

A devastating volcano eruption is on the horizon as local residents clamor for survival amid sheer pandemonium. A climate scientist declares the crisis an obvious outcome of tidal warming, but pundits on the other side have derided the science as faulty while a dictator-like mayor eggs it all on. Breaking news? Nope. It’s the prescient plot line of the splashy, sassy The SpongeBob Musical coming in January to the Lexington Opera House.

SpongebobThe Nickelodeon musical played on Broadway to delighted audiences for nine months and garnered an impressive 11 Tony Award nominations. The only reason it closed in New York in less than a year is because the Palace Theatre where it was playing shuttered for lengthy renovations.

Last month, the cast and creative team reunited for “The SpongeBob Musical Live on Stage” which was a critical and ratings success when it aired simultaneously on three Nickelodeon branded cable channels.

Now the Bikini Bottom undersea spectacle continues as a widely praised national tour swims into town the weekend of January 17-19.

Like the TV show, which is celebrating its 20th season on air, the Broadway musical incarnation is wacky, surreal, and very, very clever.

The songs are by an all-star team of pop tunesmiths, including the late David Bowie with Brian Eno, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Lady Antebellum and They Might Be Giants. A gospel extravaganza written by Yolanda Adams steals the show, and there’s even a hip- hop cheeky nod to HAMILTON.

Come for the musical mayhem but stay for the creative lighting design (Kevin Adams), projection (Peter Negrini), and superlative set design and costumes (David Zinn). Critics across the country are also hailing the lead, Lorenzo Pugliese as “spectacular, aerobic, full-throated, and happy making.” The Philadelphia Inquirer praised its recent visit there as “gloriously giddy, and smart, too.”

To sample this technicolor trendsetter before it comes to town, check out “The SpongeBob Musical Live on Stage” streaming on Nickelodeon on Spectrum.

 

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This article also appears on page 22 of the Winter 2020 print edition of Hamburg Journal.

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