Who lives in a pineapple under the sea AND is coming to Broadway? SpongeBob Squarepants! The pop culture phenomenon based on the Nickelodeon television show, which earlier this year spawned a feature film, will make its world premiere stage debut in 2016 at Broadway in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre. The production will run as a limited engagement from June 7-July 3, with a planned Broadway opening in the 2016-2017 season.
Directed and co-conceived by Tina Landau with a book by Kyle Jarrow and music supervision by Tom Kitt, the “one of a kind musical event” will feature original songs by prominent musicians, including Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Jonathon Coulton, Dirty Projectors, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s and They Might Be Giants. David Bowie will contribute an additional song, as well.
“I was drawn to this project not only for its wild theatrical possibility, but also because I felt SpongeBob, at its core, is a layered and hilarious ensemble comedy,” Landau said in a press statement. “SpongeBob himself is of course its center and beating heart — the eternal innocent in a sea of cynics. He’s also the classic underdog hero, and so our production sets him on a hero’s journey with real stakes, all the while retaining the show’s trippy humor and irreverence. We’re taking our leads from the TV show but this is an original story, with an original design approach, and original songs written just for the occasion by an amazing array of songwriters. We will present the world of Bikini Bottom and its characters in a whole new way that can only be achieved in the live medium of the theatre. We’re bringing the show’s fabled characters to life through actors — not prosthetics or costumes that hide them — and we’re deploying some unconventional stage craft that will prove that anything can happen in Bikini Bottom.”
“SpongeBob long ago transcended the TV screen to become a pop culture icon inspiring everyone from kids and families to artists and musicians, pro athletes, movie stars, fashion designers, social media mavens and even the President,” added Cyma Zarghami, President of Viacom Kids and Family Group. “This character has achieved a level of global popularity that we could never have imagined, and bringing him to Broadway is a way to give him a new platform, literally, to reach audiences of all ages who are looking for an engaging, funny and innovative musical theatre experience.”
News of a SpongeBob musical first broke at Nickelodeon’s Upfront presentation in February. According to the press release, the show is “a rousing tale of a simple sea sponge who faces the unfathomable” and “a celebration of unbridled hope, unexpected heroes, and pure theatrical invention.”
“We decided early on that we would only bring SpongeBob to Broadway if we could find someone with a wholly unique take on these beloved characters. When we met Tina, we immediately understood that her vision would not only live up to the expectations of both fans and new audiences, but also to the high-level of artistry and professionalism that are the hallmarks of Broadway. The innovation she is bringing to the staging is matched with an equally fun and surprising set of original songs we’ve culled from a dream team of SpongeBob fans who happen to be top-flight musical artists, like David Bowie, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper Lady Antebellum and T.I.,” stated Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon’s President of Content Development and Production.
Casting for The SpongeBob Musical will be announced at a later date.
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