Opening Night Verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Opera House in Manchester has been transformed into Bikini Bottom for the week with the arrival of SpongeBob Squarepants the Musical, the hit Broadway show currently on its first outing in the U.K.
For those living under a …pineapple? SpongeBob Squarepants is a hit/cult cartoon series that launched on Nickelodeon in 1999. While it probably isn’t the most obvious source material for a musical, nevertheless it opened in New York in 2017 and was nominated for a dazzling 12 Tony Awards.
It isn’t a jukebox musical – the show has original songs written by some of the biggest names in music including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend and Sara Barellis.
The result is a veritable smorgasbord of eclectic musical styles, each one different from the next with everything steered in shipshape fashion by director Tara Overfield Wilkinson.
And there’s some real bangers in there there – from the opening number Bikini Bottom Day (Jonathan Coulton) to SpongBob’s uplifting Hero is My Middle Name (by Cyndi Lauper).
The plot really doesn’t matter – but it centres around a volcano that’s due to erupt putting Bikini Bottom at risk – and there’s some nice messaging in there like sticking together, being a good friend and how family is more important than money.
As the titular sponge Lewis Cornay (Book of Morman) puts in a charismatic lead performance. Not only does he nail SpongeBob’s trademark squeaky voice but the fact he makes it all look so easy is testament to the skill involved by him.
Tom Read Wilson – four-legged Squidward – is best known for his role as ‘client co-ordinator’ in Celebs Go Dating, but he trained in musical theatre and boy does it show! He gets one of the best numbers on of the night in the They Might Be Giants-penned I’m Not a Loser – a full on company tap number that is pure joy.
Clear local favourite Divina De Campo is having lots of fun as the dastardly Shelton J Plankton, who doesn’t let his small stature (and the fact he’s a one cell organism) stop his scheming.
The principles are complimented by a hard-working supporting cast including Irfan Damani as the sweet starfish Patrick, Tik Tok & Heathers favourite Hannah Lowther as Karen, Chrissi Bhima as Sandy Cheeks, Sarah Freer as Pearl and Richard J Hunt as Eugene Krabs. The company is terrific and it looks like genuine fun is being had by all.
Sarah Mercade’s witty and wonderful costumes help bring the characters to life and there’s lots of in-jokes to spot during proceedings (we loved that the Mayor of Bikini Bottom lives at 10 Drowning Street…. and that Tuna Turner and Cod Stewart were in the band!)
Theres much fun to be had for die hard SpongeBob fans but if you’re new to the phenomenon then just sit back and let the madness wash over you!
A few opening night sound gremlins didn’t detract too much from the fantastic vocals on display, and while a delayed start for technical reasons meant a bit of a later than planned finish for little ones, at the end everyone was up on their feet singing the TV theme tune.
Fabulous, fluorescent fun for SpongeBob devotees or newbies alike – trust us, you’ve got to ‘sea’ it!
The SpongeBob Musical is on at Manchester’s Opera House until Sunday 21st May tickets available here.