Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Cal State Fullerton Theatre & Dance Will Open Its Season With 'The SpongeBob Musical'

The production runs from October 13 – 16, 2021 in the Little Theatre on campus.

Cal State Fullerton's fall season kicks off - in-person! - with The SpongeBob Musical, based on Nickelodeon's beloved animated series, with musical production co-conceived by Tina Landau and featuring songs by a diverse group of pop artists; book by Kyle Jarrow; and direction by Sarah Ripper. The production runs from October 13 - 16, 2021 in the Little Theatre on campus. When an impending disaster threatens to annihilate SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and all of Bikini Bottom, a most unexpected hero rises up, proving the power of optimism really can save the world!

Writer and musical producer Tina Landau is perhaps best known for her large-scale musical and ensemble work. She has been recognized by Drama Desk, Drama League, and the Obies, among others. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, co-conceived and directed by Landau, premiered in 2017 and tied Mean Girls at the 2018 Tony Awards with twelve nominations. On Broadway, she has directed Tracy Lett's Superior Donuts, and the revival of Bells Are Ringing. Kyle Jarrow is a Tony Award-nominated, Obie Award-winning writer and musician who makes work for television, film and the stage. He was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his book for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. He penned the films Purple Hearts (in production for Netflix), Armless (premiered at Sundance) and Saint Janet (streaming on Amazon Prime). In addition to his writing work, he leads the rock band Sky-Pony.

The cast includes Kristian Acruz, Leyna Camacho, Naya Ramsey Clarke, Audrey Lyn Crabaño, Madeline Rae Delgros, Layla Elefante, Taylor Evans, Audrey Forrester, Maya Elizabeth Garza, Emmy Rose Girouard, December Hassler, Wyat Hatfield, William Hawkes, Chris Ho, Maegan Hood, Tylor Jenkins, Kelly Kudlik, Evan Martorana, Braxton McGrath, Jonah Meyer, Kainoa Miller, Sydné Piatek, Alex Riley, Kai Rosales, Emily Tripp, Allie Wood, Alex Corey

Scenic design is by Jordan Kirby, costume design by Carson Julian, hair /makeup design by Hayden Lalicker, lighting design by Scott Bolman, and sound design by Alex Padilla.

The SpongeBob Musical plays at 8 pm on October 13, 14, 15, and at 2 pm on October 16 in the Little Theatre. Live Streaming available October 15 at 8 pm, and on October 16 at 2 pm. Streaming tickets are $24. General admission tickets are $24($22 with advance Titan Discount purchase for students, seniors or with a CSUF ID)/ 2 FlexTix credits. FlexTix credits from the 2019-2020 season will be accepted. All tickets are $24 at the door. Tickets are extremely limited and available by calling (657) 278-3371 from 12 - 4 pm, Tuesday through Friday, or can be purchased online.

Following The SpongeBob Musical, the fall season continues with Within Reach - a devised theatre piece conceived and directed by David Nevell in collaboration with College of the Arts students. How do we begin the process of moving toward one another after so much separation, isolation, and fear? Can the distance between us ever be bridged and if it can, how will we know who to trust? Within Reach poses these questions in a moving, visceral way designed to uncover the core of what makes us human. Running October 27-30, 2021 in the Hallberg Theatre on campus.

Review: Bikini Bottom comes to life at CSUF with "The SpongeBob Musical"

The Little Theatre production put on an enthusiastic performance for "The SpongeBob Musical" based off the hit Nickelodeon show. (Cheryl Savala / CSUF Department of Theatre and Dance)

Bikini Bottom was brought to life in an incredibly fun and charming performance of "The SpongeBob Musical" in the Little Theatre this weekend. The musical, based on the animated hit Nickelodeon series, was a great show for an audience of all ages and brought the house down with humor, emotion, amazing vocal performances and great musical numbers. 

This production, directed by alumna Sarah Ripper, hit on all aspects of production and was especially elevated by the wonderful student performers in the company. 

The plot followed impending doom for the fictional town of Bikini Bottom as a seamount is about to erupt. With only a day left to live, SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy set out to save the day while Plankton capitalizes on the doomsday scenario by plotting one of his evil schemes.

All the lead characters were perfectly cast by actors who embodied the spirit of these iconic characters. Leading the show as SpongeBob was Wyatt Hatfield, whose seemingly effortless portrayal of the character’s childlike innocence and amazing voice made for a memorable performance as he smiled, danced, sang and shimmied his way through the night. 

He’s a truly wonderful performer who is featured in many of the show’s songs and he delivered on each and every one with such charm and charisma integral to his role, never breaking his smile that lit up the auditorium. 

The show began as a typical SpongeBob affair, through the lens of a musical, and then became a poignant message about coming together in the face of chaos and the importance of community. This message is brought home by Hatfield’s fantastic performance of “Best Day Ever.” 

Hatfield wasn’t alone in his excellent performance, as Kainoa Miller rocked a pink wig while playing SpongeBob’s best friend Patrick Star. The two had great chemistry and really sold some of the more emotional moments in the show, evoking audible gasps from the crowd. 

He played Patrick in a humanizing way, giving the character emotional depth while also nailing the comedic moments the character is most known for. 

Audrey Lyn Crabaño rounded out the friendly trio as Sandy Cheeks. Her performance was certainly one of the stand-outs in the company as she commanded the stage with authority, which is perfect for her character. She embodied the strong female that Sandy is, while also tapping into her more vulnerable side, by displaying amazing physicality with her high kick and cartwheel skills. 

The trio’s performance of “Hero is My Middle Name,” was easily one of the most memorable in the show.

All that being said, the standout performance came from Tylor Jenkins, who played Squidward. All throughout, his wonderful voice and wry presence sat in the background like a predatory cat stalking its prey. 

But, it’s his performance of “I’m Not a Loser,” that won over the night and had the audience roaring with applause and cheers. The musical number delved deep into the character’s psyche in an all-out tap-dancing routine that Jenkins masterfully pulled off along with the rest of the ensemble. 

It was truly a sight to behold and is easily the most memorable part of the show thanks to the amazing choreography from Courtney Ozovek.

Kristian Acruz (Plankton) and Audrey Forrester (Karen the Computer), were hilariously charming as the antagonistic couple. Seeing Karen brought to life from the screen to the stage was a real treat and was made even better with the vocal performance of Forrester, who absolutely nailed the voice. 

Braxton McGrath (Mr. Krabs) and Layla Elefante (Pearl), had some memorable moments as the father and daughter duo. During their performance of “Daddy Knows Best,” Elefante’s amazing voice took center stage and blew the audience away. 

Madeline Rae Delgros was great as Perch Perkins, occasionally interjecting in a humorous way while Jonah Meyer made a great cameo as Patchy the Pirate. 

While the lead performers managed to carry much of the plot, the entire ensemble did an exemplary job of bringing this play to life. During most of the song-and-dance numbers, it was the ensemble that brought a lot of energy to the play, filling out the stage in the Little Theatre. 

The music, which has writing credit from hit artists like Panic! At the Disco, Cyndi Lauper and John Legend are great and brought to life by the talented voices of the performers and music director Sarah Grandpre. 

The technical aspects of this play are also what made it a fun experience for fans of the animated series. Large cutouts of each character’s houses established the setting early on in the play and were a beautiful sight to see along with the decorated curtains adorned with flowers from the show. 

SpongeBob’s pet Gary even made a cameo, being rolled onto the stage. One of the great moments featured Hatfield kissing Gary in what was a prime example of his heartfelt performance. 

For fans of the series, there are many inside jokes that are hilarious nods to the long-running show. But even people who weren’t fans of the show, or accompanying their children were enjoying the show immensely. With a runtime of two hours and 30 minutes, the show flew. 

It’s a bummer that this show only ran for a weekend, but those lucky enough to be in the audience this past weekend will never forget this show. 

These performers have a bright future ahead of them. 


The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! was broadcast in December 2019 across Nickelodeon platforms and featured much of the original Broadway company reprising their performances, including Tony nominee Ethan Slater as the high-energy title sponge, Tony nominee Gavin Lee as Squidward Q. Tentacles, Danny Skinner as Patrick Star, Brian Ray Norris as Eugene Krabs, and Wesley Taylor as Sheldon Plankton. The TV event is available to stream on Paramount+ and is available on DVD.

The Original Broadway Cast Recording is available now from Masterworks Broadway wherever music is sold and streamed: https://spongebobmusical.lnk.to/SpongebobMusicalRecording

Originally published: October 14, 2021.

Original source: Broadway World.

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