Thursday, June 24, 2021

El Dorado Musical Theatre in Calif. Brings SpongeBob’s Adventure to the Big and Small Screen!

“And the show must go on” has never rung truer for El Dorado Musical Theatre in El Dorado Hills, California, as the theater group leaders, actors and techs have had to reimagine live theater while dealing with a pandemic and COVID-19 protocols.

Patrick Star (Brayden Bambino), Sandy Cheeks (Emily Hobbs)
and SpongeBob Squarepants (Cameron Renstrom) have quite the
adventure in Bikini Bottom. Watch it on the big screen this Friday
or from home in early July. Photo by Anjie Rose Wilson

With Debbie Wilson at the reins, plus her creative production team and the many talented actors, EDMT has pulled through swimmingly and now invites the audience to dive into The SpongeBob Musical, opening June 25. The EDMT team has developed a creative way to put on this “live” performance like never before.

“This year has pushed us in different kinds of creativity,” Wilson explained to Village Life.

In order for EDMT to ensure the show would go on, big changes had to be made and a new reality began to form — one without an audience, something the cast members said they really missed. Rehearsals were modified as actors were rotated through the studio, filming shots solo when performing without a mask was necessary and pods were formed for those actors whose scenes were to be filmed together. The addition of these changes brought a new set of challenges, which led to longer filming time and creating more work for both cast and crew.

“Insane” is how Wilson described the process.

But with these changes brought new opportunities for the behind-the-scenes crew. Choreographer Anjie Rose Wilson and director of photography Ryan Van Overeem were tasked with turning a theater production into a two-hour movie. Collaboration became key, they said, especially when filming scenes with unmasked performers. The need to schedule different pods for filming purposes and keep the other cast and crew members distanced and protected meant characters didn’t necessarily play their story all the way through. Some will see the final product for the first time once the movie is complete.

With all of the crazy challenges, one thing that didn’t change was the ability for Zach Wilson to create an impressive stage that takes the viewer to the underwater world of Bikini Bottom, where SpongeBob and his friends are in peril. As chaos ensues, the need for a hero is eminent … but who is brave enough to save Bikini Bottom?

As Zach explained, a challenge he faced creating a set for a film rather than for a live performance was the need to give the room a 360 degree view that filming provides to the viewer. This meant creating more depth, adding interesting vignettes and utilizing lighting in different ways.

And as much as Wilson said he misses live theater and human interaction, he told Village Life, “I am grateful that we have these opportunities.”

Those words were echoed by the cast.

Carson Beards, who plays Perch Perkins, the reporter who reports on news everyone already knows, shared that a lot of his own personality comes through in his role. “I find it really funny,” said Beards of his character.

Beards made his EDMT debut in 2009, when he was just 8, as one of the Lollipop Guild Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz and said he has aspirations to perform on Broadway as a swing ensemble member on the National Broadway Tour.

The mayor of Bikini Bottom is played by Katie Chiappone, who admits that as mayor, she is not doing a very good job. “The mayor is selfish. She wants everyone to follow her, but only wants what’s best for her and then what’s best for the town,” Chiappone explained.

The adorable boating school instructor, Mrs. Puff, is played by Ashley Slavin, who shared how much she loves playing her character and especially enjoys having the ability to rehearse her role until it’s perfect for the film version. Slavin has been with EDMT for 10 years, beginning in 2011 when she played Spoon in Beauty and the Beast.

Jack Gregory is making his debut playing the buff surfer dude, Larry the Lobster. Although this is his first year with EDMT, he said he has been interested in acting since he was 6. He told Village Life he found the process of working in film to be cool as he had the chance to see the crew create each character.

SpongeBob’s boss and owner of the Krusty Krab, Eugene Krabs, is played by longtime EDMT performer Ty Rhoades, who said he enjoyed taking his character and making the role his own. Rhoades, like many other actors, said he prefers live performances to filming, but did acknowledge that he learned a thing or two working on the film side. This is Rhoades’ ninth year with EDMT, his first performance was in Seussical in 2012.

Old Man Jenkins is played by Nathan Hansen. “He thinks everyone comes to him for his wisdom,” Hansen explained. While playing his character, Hansen shared a realization. “He is not a character I would want to be when I’m that age.” Hansen debuted in Alice in Wonderland in 2015.

At first, Debbie Wilson said she wasn’t completely smitten with the idea of taking on The SpongeBob Musical, which last performed on Broadway in 2018. What drew her to this eclectic musical was the legendary and talented song writers who wrote original music for the show — David Bowie, Steven Tyler, Cyndi Lauper as well as newer performers like Panic! At the Disco, Lady Antebellum and many others.

Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical is based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg with book by Kyle Jarrow and musical production conceived by Tina Landau. This production is directed by Debbie Wilson with choreographer Anjie Rose Wilson, vocal director Justin Harvey, costume designer Karen McConnell, director of photography Ryan Van Overeem and art director Zach Wilson.

EDMT’s The SpongeBob Musical will be live-streamed for an audience at 6 p.m. Friday, June 25, at Rolling Hills Church in El Dorado Hills. To purchase tickets for the in-person screening event and for more informations visit the EDMT website Home streaming will be available July 2 & 3 and July 9 & 10.

Cast:  SpongeBob SquarePants (Cameron Renstrom), Patrick Star (Brayden Bambino), Sandy Cheeks (Emily Hobbs), Squidward Q. Tentacles (Joey Baciocco), Eugene Krabs (Ty Rhoades), Sheldon Plankton (Zach Wilson), Pearl Krabs (Ariella Sanchez), Karen the Computer (Madeline L’Engle), The Mayor (Katie Chiappone), Perch Perkins (Carson Beards), Patchy the Pirate (Angelo Aceves), Mrs. Puff (Ashley Slavin), Larry the Lobster (Jack Gregory) and Old Man Jenkins (Nathan Hansen); The Electric Skates: Mikey Jantzen, Adam Kosciuk, Alexandra Peer, Bronson Bambino, Leighton L’Engle, Nathan Hansen and Madelyn Rummel. Security Guards: Lanna Moore and Mackenzie Haar. Lead Sardines: Ashley Slavin, Hailey Miller, Hannah Steele and Maddie Jantzen. Featured Sardines: Mikey Jantzen, Adam Kosciuk, Alexandra Peer and Julia Romero. Featured Pirates: Alayna Fredianelli, Julia Romero, Katie Chiappone, Lanna Moore, Mackenzie Haar and Tori Turo. Vast Array of Undersea Creatures, Sardines and Pirates: Alexandra Armstrong, Alexandra Tribble, Beatrice Greule, Bella Zelaya, Bitty Slavin, Brooke Minnie, Brynne Karford, Corbett Ferguson, Dante Ferretti, Eaden Hamilton, Ella Coller, Emi Madsen, Emmalyn Parkins, Jacob Blanz, Julia Slavin, Kaida McIntosh, Kalea Ocampo, Lily Koch, Lyla Mirhadi, Madeleine LeTourneau, Mayci Evers, Megan Chin, Olivia De Rose, Ox Dennis, Reese Throckmorton, Ryan Freitas, Sandra Bedoy, Sasha Zarovsky, Stella Miller and Zoe Tribble.

Director: Debbie Wilson; Choreographer: Anjie Rose Wilson; Vocal Director: Justin Harvey; Costume Designer: Karen McConnell; Director of Photography: Ryan Van Overeem; Art Director: Zach Wilson.

More Nick: Concord Theatricals Acquires Licensing Rights for Nickelodeon's Broadway Hit 'The SpongeBob Musical'!

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