'The SpongeBob Musical' makes its world premiere this June in Chicago

Krabby Patty juggling! Tap dancing sea anemones! Underwater bicycles, skateboards, and electric guitars!

The SpongeBob Musical is heading your way, and it’ll be hard to ignore the bubbles it will make when it hits the stage this summer for its debut, pre-Broadway run. Ahead of its June premiere in Chicago, EW has an exciting first look behind the scenes at what will easily be the best underwater piece of musical theater hitting a stage this summer.

Director Tina Landau, book writer Kyle Jarrow, designer David Zinn, and choreographer Christopher Gattelli are among the creators who pop up in the video and share their passion for the ambitious project, which is almost a decade in the making, as Landau told EW back in January.

The SpongeBob Musical follows an average day in Bikini Bottom turned wholly un-average, when the threatening eruption of a nearby underwater volcano called Mount Humongous flips the entire town on its head. With just 24 hours until the purported end of days, SpongeBob (newcomer Ethan Slater) takes the hero’s quest upon himself to save the town and rescue his friends from certain volcanic doom.

Among its treasures, the video betrays a first glimpse at how the characters of Bikini Bottom will come to life on stage, including Mr. Krabs (Carlos Lopez), Patrick (Danny Skinner), and Sandy (Lilli Cooper). Though not directly featured here, the show also stars Nick Blaemire as Plankton and Gavin Lee as Squidward.


The musical’s set, designed by David Zinn, shows off Landau’s aesthetic approach to building Bikini Bottom out of salvaged materials and, as Zinn points out, “found objects or things that could float to the bottom of the ocean.” Cue the hula hoops, kiddie pools, rubber tires, and sea noodles.

The video also reveals but a few song titles from the score, which is essentially crowdsourced via a roster of big-time artists including David Bowie, John Legend, T.I., Lady Antebellum, The Flaming Lips, and Sara Bareilles. Landau and Jarrow conceived specific story beats for each artist they wanted to pursue, and the artists — all major fans of SpongeBob — bit. Let your imagination run wild with the teased songs, which include a Cyndi Lauper-penned “Hero Is My Middle Name,” Panic! At the Disco’s “Not a Simple Sponge,” the Plain White T’s “BFF,” and “Bikini Bottom Boogie,” as written by Aerosmith.

The SpongeBob Musical (a co-production from Nickelodeon with Sony Music Masterworks and The Araca Group) plays a limited engagement from June 7 through July 3 at Broadway in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre, before a Broadway run opening in the 2016-17 season. To quote the sponge himself: I’m ready…I’m ready.

And if you’re ready you can watch our exclusive first look above.