Thursday, February 10, 2022

Playhouse in the Park in Murray, KY Starts Season with ‘SpongeBob’ Musical

Murray, KY – Playhouse in the Park will kick off its 2022 season Friday with a musical adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon animated series SpongeBob SquarePants.

“The SpongeBob Musical” begins its two-week run Friday night at Playhouse in the Park. Pictured, from left, are Ian Ball as SpongeBob SquarePants, Lucy Mitchell as Sandy Cheeks and Jake Mitchell as Patrick Star. Other cast members are seen in the background playing jellyfish.

The SpongeBob Musical will play for two weekends. According to the Playhouse website’s description, “The stakes are higher than ever in this dynamic stage musical, as SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face the total annihilation of their undersea world. Chaos erupts. Lives hang in the balance. And just when all hope seems lost, a most unexpected hero rises up and takes center stage. The power of optimism really can save the world!”

The show opened on Broadway in 2017 and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. It features original songs composed by a variety of well-known musicians, including David Bowie and Brian Eno, Cyndi Lauper, The Flaming Lips, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, They Might Be Giants, Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum) and others. Josh Byrne, who is directing the Playhouse production, said he first saw the show when it was on tour and came to Paducah’s Carson Center.

“It’s fairly new; it’s actually brand new as far as availability for licensing (for community theaters), so we were really excited to get our hands on it as soon as possible,” Byrne told the Murray Ledger and Times. “We have a lot of SpongeBob fans in our Playhouse family, of course, because I think SpongeBob has touched people of all ages, whether it be kids currently, people my age who grew up with it or adults who had kids when it came out. We’ve all been exposed to SpongeBob in some capacity. Love him or hate him, he’s had an impact. We all know who SpongeBob SquarePants is.”

Byrne said that in addition to the beloved characters and comedy, the diversity of the featured music styles is a major selling point.

“The really cool thing about the music is that every song is written by a different musical artist,” he said. “One song is written by Panic! at the Disco, one of the songs was written by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (of Aerosmith) and one song was even written by the rapper T.I. So as far as the music is concerned, there’s something for everyone, and I think that’s a really cool thing to keep the show exciting. You never really know what sound is coming next because it all is different, yet somehow it all cohesively works together.”

In addition to the coup of Playhouse securing the rights to such a new and popular musical, Byrne said it is also exciting to be opening the first full season the community theater has been able to plan in more than two years. The summer after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Playhouse staged some outdoor shows, and some performances were held indoors last year, but Byrne said this will be the first full season planned since 2020 was mostly canceled after the conclusion of the musical Matilda.

“We are one of the first theaters in the area to get the licensing for the show, so that’s exciting. It was also very stressful (closing the deal),” Byrne said. “This is the opener for our 2022 season, our first full season back after COVID, so obviously we wanted it to be big and wanted to do something that was going to have name recognition and was going to draw audiences in. And like I said, because of how many people SpongeBob has affected, young and old, we thought it was just a great choice.”

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. It will conclude at the same times next weekend, Feb. 18-20. Call 270-759-1752 or visit for tickets.

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

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