Friday, March 27, 2020

'The SpongeBob Musical' National Tour Announces Cast [Updated: Tour Closes]

Update (3/27): Due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, Nickelodeon The SpongeBob Musical North American Tour is Closing. "Thank you to the cast, crew, musicians, production team, and fans of Bikini Bottom. We've had the best days ever with you," a message posted to the musical's official Twitter said.

The world needs a SpongeBob musical right about now. Even though the tour has ended, you can still stream each track from the musical's official soundtrack below!:

I've also created a blog for the music of The SpongeBob Musical, featuring each track:

Update (3/13) - In response to the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) outbreak, The SpongeBob Musical will be postponing or cancelling some of its upcoming performances. Please see this post for the latest postponements/cancellations.

Update (1/19/2020) - Refreshed The SpongeBob Musical tour dates!

Full Casting Announced For The SpongeBob Musical On Tour

Full casting has been announced for the upcoming North American Tour of Nickelodeon's The SpongeBob Musical.

This explosively imaginative production will launch at Proctors in Schenectady, New York this September before bringing Bikini Bottom and its beloved residents to previously announced engagements in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and more.

The production will feature will star Lorenzo Pugliese as SpongeBob SquarePants, Daria Pilar Redus as Sandy Cheeks, Beau Bradshaw as Patrick Star, Christopher Cody Cooley as Squidward Q. Tentacles, Zach Kononov as Mr. Krabs, and Tristan McIntyre as Plankton.

The ensemble includes Morgan Blanchard, John Cardenas, Natalie L. Chapman, Richie Dupkin, Stephen C. Kallas, Helen Regula, Méami Maszewski, Stefan Miller, Joshua Bess, Mary Nickson, Dorian O'Brien, Caitlin Ort, Elle-May Patterson, Sydney Simone, Ayana Strutz, Teddy Gales, Miles Davis Tillman, and Rico Velazquez.

SPONGEBOB MUSICAL 2019-2020 Tour Cities:


The Bushnell

Overture Center

Boch Center

Peoria Civic Center

Von Braun Center Concert Hall

Andrew Jackson Hall

Civic Center Music Hall

Schuster Center

Tilles Center

State Theatre

Forrest Theatre

Meridian Hall

Wilson Center

Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre

01/17/20-01/19/20 Lexington Opera House

Carson Center

Reynolds Performance Hall

Belcher Performance Center

Majestic Theatre

Wagner Noel PAC

Orpheum Theatre

The Smith Center Reynolds Hall

Golden Gate Theatre

Bass Performance Hall

Idaho Falls Civic Center

Mother Lode Theatre

Pantages Theatre

Hult Center

Buell Theatre

Capitol Theatre

Dolby Theatre

Century II Concert Hall

Stifel Theatre

Bologna Performing Arts Center

Oxford Performing Arts Center

River Center For The Performing Arts

Mattie Kelly Arts Center

Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts

Providence PAC

06/02/20 - 06/07/20
Benedum Center

Marathon Center for the Performing Arts

06/10/20 - 06/11/20
Count Basie Theatre

06/12/20 - 06/13/20
Filene Center

Belk Theatre

Jones Hall

07/14/20 - 07/19/20
Winspear Opera House

Straz Center for the PA

07/27/20 - 08/02/20
Starlight Theatre

For ticket information and additional dates, visit

Broadway's best creative minds reimagine and bring to life the beloved Nickelodeon series with humor, heart and pure theatricality in a neon-sparkly "party for the eyes and ears" (Daily Beast). Be there when SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face catastrophe-until a most unexpected hero rises to take center stage. This "creative explosion" ( is "nothing short of genius" says TheaterMania, so bring the entire family to celebrate friendship and cooperation, and learn the power of unity and inclusion.

The SpongeBob Musical explodes with energy and features an original pop and rock-infused score by a legendary roster of Grammy Award®-winning songwriters. Led and conceived by visionary director Tina Landau (2018 Tony Award nominee) and a Tony Award®-winning design team, the production brings the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart, and pure theatricality. The SpongeBob Musical features a book by Kyle Jarrow, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt, musical supervision by Julie McBride & Tim Hanson, and choreography by Christopher Gattelli. The design team includes scenic and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Kevin Adams, projection design by Peter Nigrini, sound design by Walter Trarbach, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, make-up design by Joe Dulude II, foley design by Mike Dobson, and casting by Stewart/Whitley.

The SpongeBob Musical is a one-of-a-kind musical event with original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani & Lil'C and songs by David Bowie & Brian Eno, and by Tom Kenny & Andy Paley. Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Additional music by Tom Kitt.

The Original Cast Recording is available now from Masterworks Broadway wherever music is sold and streamed.

Explore the depths of theatrical innovation in The SpongeBob Musical, 2018 Best Musical winner of the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, where the power of optimism really can save the world.

Original post:

The SpongeBob Musical National Tour Finds Its Cast of Bikini Bottom Residents

The traveling production will launch in September in Schenectady, New York.

Lorenzo Pugliese, Beau Bradshaw, and Daria Pilar Redus

The complete cast is set for the upcoming national tour of Nickelodeon's Tony Award-winning The SpongeBob Musical, which will launch in September in Schenectady, New York!

The non-Equity touring production will star Lorenzo Pugliese as SpongeBob SquarePants, Beau Bradshaw as Patrick Star, and Daria Pilar Redus as Sandy Cheeks, with Christopher Cody Cooley as Squidward Q. Tentacles, Zach Kononov as Mr. Krabs, and Tristan McIntyre as Sheldon Plankton.

Rounding out the company are Joshua Bess, Morgan Blanchard, John Cardenas, Natalie L. Chapman, Richie Dupkin, Teddy Gales, Stephen C. Kallas, Méami Maszewski, Stefan Miller, Mary Nickson, Dorian O'Brien, Caitlin Ort, Elle-May Patterson, Helen Regula, Sydney Simone, Ayana Strutz, Miles Davis Tillman, and Rico Velazquez.

Additional tour stops include engagements in Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Toronto, Houston, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and San Antonio.

Inspired by Nickelodeon's hit animated series of the same name, SpongeBob SquarePantsis a one-of-a-kind musical event that explodes with energy and features an original pop and rock-infused score by a legendary roster of Grammy® Award-winning songwriters. Led and conceived by visionary director Tina Landau (2018 Tony Award nominee) and a Tony Award®-winning design team, the production brings the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart, and pure theatricality.

The stakes are higher than ever 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 musical features a book by Kyle Jarrow and a score from orchestrator Tom Kitt and a variety of pop artists: Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani and Lil’C, and songs by David Bowie and Brian Eno, and by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley. Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Additional music by Tom Kitt.

Get ready to dive to all-new depths of theatrical innovation at SpongeBob SquarePants, where the power of optimism really can save the world!

Following a Chicago tryout during summer 2016, the musical opened on Broadway in December 2017 (under the title SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical) at the Palace Theatre, where it ran through September 16, 2018.

The Broadway cast for SpongeBob SquarePants included Tony Award Nominee Ethan Slater as SpongeBob SquarePants, Tony Award Nominee Gavin Lee as Squidward Q. Tentacles, Lilli Cooper and Christina Sajous as Sandy Cheeks, Brian Ray Norris as Eugene Krabs, Danny Skinner as Patrick Star and Wesley Taylor as Sheldon Plankton.

The ensemble included Brandon Espinoza, Alex Gibson, Gaelen Gilliland, Juliane Godfrey, Jordan Grubb, Kyle Matthew Hamilton, Curtis Holbrook, Jesse JP Johnson, L'ogan J'ones, Jai'len Christine Li Josey, Kelvin Moon Loh, Lauralyn Mcclelland, Vasthy Mompoint, Oneika Phillips, Catherine Ricafort, JC Schuster, Allysa Shorte, Abby C. Smith, Robert Taylor Jr., Allan K. Washington, Brynn Williams, Matt Wood and Tom Kenny as the French Narrator.

The critically acclaimed SpongeBob SquarePants musical was named Best Musical by the Drama Desk Awards and Outer Critics Circle and earned 12 Tony Award nominations - the most nominated musical of the 2017-2018 theatre season - including nods for Best Musical, director Tina Landau, book writer Kyle Jarrow, title player Ethan Slater (in his Broadway debut), and the all-star roster of songwriters (including Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, and John Legend) who contributed to the score. The production earned 12 Tony Award nominations including best musical, equaling Mean Girls for the most of any show this season, and while The Band's Visit swept the honors, SpongeBob did score a deserved win for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for David Zinn's scenic design. The show’s director, Tina Landau, earned a Tony Award nomination for her inventive and unconventional approach to the material that humanized the characters than creating literal representations of the familiar Nickelodeon cartoon.

Visit for the full tour itinerary.

SpongeBob SquarePants - The New Musical Original Cast Recording is available to purchase today at

SpongeBob SquarePants is produced by Nickelodeon with The Araca Group, Sony Music Masterworks and Kelp on the Road.

From The Boston Globe:

This touring musical promises to reel in Boston’s ‘SpongeBob’ superfans

Director Tina Landau in rehearsal with Lorenzo Pugliese and the rest of the cast. (JEREMY DANIEL)

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants. Except right now, he’s away from Bikini Bottom on tour with “The SpongeBob Musical,” the Tony-nominated adaptation of Nickelodeon’s beloved animated series. After a Broadway run, the zany production will play the Boch Center Wang Theatre from Oct. 15 to Oct. 27 as part of its North American tour.

Most people know SpongeBob from his animated misadventures, packaged into two 11-minute segments per episode. Often, the burger-flipping sponge finds himself in simple situations that escalate to the absurd. For instance: An episode from 2002 finds SpongeBob and his best friend, starfish Patrick Star, going door-to-door selling candy bars. SpongeBob tries to pick a tantalizing loose thread off the shirt of his snobby co-worker and neighbor, Squidward. Things unravel from there.

Instead of ramping things up one step at a time, “The SpongeBob Musical” begins with an explosive revelation. Residents of Bikini Bottom learn that a nearby volcano, Mount Humongous, is set to destroy the entire town in 24 hours. As Squidward (Christopher Cody Cooley), Patrick (Beau Bradshaw), Sandy the squirrel (Daria Pilar Redus), money-grubbing Mr. Krabs (Zach Kononov), and his rival Plankton (Tristan McIntyre) reckon with impending doom, it’s up to one optimistic sponge to save the ecosystem he calls home.

Translating 11-minute-long, action-packed episodes into more than two hours of musical theater proved challenging, director Tina Landau said in a phone interview. The New York City theater artist started developing the show in 2007 and has been working with it ever since.

“The show was not conceived as a musical,” Landau said. “It’s more like a performance art event, and a party, and a carnival, and a rock concert.” A star-studded lineup of musicians contributed to the show’s soundtrack, which includes songs by David Bowie and Brian Eno, Panic! at the Disco, They Might Be Giants, Sara Bareilles, and John Legend, to name a few.

Characters wear clothing that suggests their animated counterparts’ but doesn’t try to replicate it. Squidward wears pants with extra-green legs. SpongeBob wears his iconic suspenders. “But the intention was never to put him in a large, square, foam kind of theme-park costume,” Landau said.

In the animated series, SpongeBob plays his nose like a flute and contorts his malleable body into improbable shapes. In the musical, SpongeBob’s human actor jumps around excitedly and pulls his pet snail Gary behind him on wheels. “We have not shied away from the fact that SpongeBob stretches and contorts,” Landau said. “We have just found really theatrical ways to express that.”

SpongeBob’s first episode ran in 1999, inspiring legions of millennial superfans who grew up watching the show. SpongeBob memes continue to circulate on social media. Fans even petitioned to get the iconic SpongeBob rock song “Sweet Victory” (from the 2001 episode “Band Geeks”) performed at the 2019 Super Bowl. They wanted to honor show creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died last fall.

This production taps into that deep vein of SpongeBob fandom. “We have found that our biggest group of fans are definitely in their 20s and 30s,” Landau said.

Like so many of his peers, Lorenzo Pugliese grew up watching SpongeBob’s antics. The actor, who plays SpongeBob in the touring production, graduated from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia this spring.

“Actually, I don’t even know if I told Tina this,” Pugliese said over the phone, laughing. “But when I was a kid, in the morning, I would wake up, open up the windows and yell, ‘Good morning world, and all who inhabit it!’ ” It’s a quote from a classic SpongeBob scene. And now, Pugliese gets to yell it at the top of every performance.

Bonus: Boston theatergoers can celebrate SpongeBob with an extra treat. J.P. Licks, the ice cream chain founded in Jamaica Plain, will offer a sea salted pineapple ice cream flavor for a limited time as a joint promotional effort. Sounds like it would pair nicely with a Krabby Patty.

The SpongeBob Musical

At Boch Center Wang Theatre, Oct. 15-27. Tickets from $25,


From Beloit Daily News:


MADISON - He may live in a pineapple under the sea, but SpongeBob will soon be visiting a Stateline Area stage.

The beloved children's cartoon character is being brought to life in "The SpongeBob Musical" Oct. 8-13 at the Overture Center.

"The show has all the things that we know and love from the cartoon, but it has a much more realistic storyline," said actor Cody Cooley.

Cooley, a native of Sykesville, Maryland, is portraying the disgruntled Squidward Q. Tentacles in the brand new traveling Broadway production.

"Squidward is the everyman, just going about his day job and trying to get through it," Cooley said. "He really just wants to be at home playing his clarinet."

Although SpongeBob Squarepants has had many memorable episodes from its years on Nickelodeon, those who attend the show will see something completely new.

The storyline, not based on any previous plots, is that beautiful Bikini Bottom is about to be destroyed by a natural disaster. All the characters must come together to save the day.

"All the characters in the show look at the problem in their own unique way, and the story is all about how a community can be brought together and work together," Cooley said.

Viewers can expect to see the story played out with a fun and colorful set, Broadway numbers and lots of dancing, including a 7-to-8 minute tap routine by Cooley.

There won't be any foam-costumed actors on stage, Cooley added. The show's directors have worked very hard to embrace the human connection the story makes.

"When I saw this show on Broadway, I thought it was so refreshing that you expected it to be like what you'd see in a theme park, but it's not at all," Cooley said.

Families are sure to enjoy the show's production quality, songs, and seeing a brand new cast that is excited to perform for a live audience. Madison will be the third stop on the tour.

"This show has such great heart and such a good message," Cooley said. "The kids will really love seeing SpongeBob on stage and the adults will love the's all really fun."

Tickets for "The SpongeBob Musical" start at $31 and go up to $141. Shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8-10; 8 p.m. Oct. 11; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 12; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13.

A special "Meet the Artist" event will happen after the show on Thursday, Oct. 10, where a brief Q&A session will take place. There also will be a "Best Day Ever" event at noon on Sunday, Oct. 13, featuring art projects and more.

The show is rated as appropriate for children ages 5 and up. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit or follow the Overture Center on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.


From Mass Live:

Broadway’s ‘SpongeBob Musical’ coming to Hartford, Boston

When Stephen C. Kallas was growing up in Monroe, Conn., he enjoyed sitting on the couch watching the animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants” on Nickelodeon.

Soon he’ll be on the stage at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford performing as Old Man Jenkins in the “The SpongeBob Musical,” which runs Oct. 1-6. The musical will later travel to Boston for an Oct. 15-27 run at the Boch Center-Wang Theater.

It’s the 20th anniversary of SpongeBob, an incurable optimist and earnest sea sponge, so it’s especially “cool to jump into the (stage) show when there is such a big anniversary for the brand,” said Kallas, 24, speaking from Schenectady, New York, before the production began a national tour there.

Kallas enjoyed SpongeBob as a child because “it was so whacky and so out there,” but he could connect with the characters.

“SpongeBob SquarePants” launched in 1999. The series chronicles the adventures and endeavors of the title character and his friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom. It has been the top children’s animated series on television for the last 17 years, generating a universe of beloved characters, pop-culture catchphrases and memes, theatrical releases, consumer products, a Tony award-winning Broadway musical and a global fan base.

Created by Stephen Hillenburg and produced by Nickelodeon in Burbank, California, the character-driven cartoon chronicles the nautical and sometimes nonsensical adventures of the eponymous yellow sponge, shaped like a kitchen sponge.

Moving from cartoon viewer to stage actor in the SpongeBob world is “just as amazing as I thought it would be,” said Kallas, who graduated in 2017 from Wagner College in Staten Island, New York, with a bachelor’s degree in theater with concentrations in performance and design tech management.

He began acting in fifth grade when a friend asked him to get involved with the production of The Music Man. “I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ and was bit by the theater bug,” he said.

He acted during college and after graduation landed roles in regional productions like The Wizard of Oz and Newsies throughout the country.

Kallas is excited to return to Connecticut to act at The Bushnell for the first time; he saw many shows there while growing up in the Constitution State.

He praised the comedy and the music in SpongeBob, saying fans will understand the “Easter eggs” (references to the original cartoon) while newcomers will enjoy it too.

The SpongeBob Musical features an original pop and rock-infused score by a roster of Grammy Award-winning songwriters. Led and conceived by director Tina Landau, a 2018 Tony Award nominee, and a Tony-winning design team, the production brings the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart and theatricality.

The musical has original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani and Lil’C and songs by David Bowie and Brian Eno and by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley.

“SpongeBob SquarePants” was adapted as a stage musical in 2016 by Landau. SpongeBob SquarePants, The Broadway Musical premiered in Chicago in 2016 and opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on in 2017. The musical opened to critical acclaim and tied for most-nominated production at the 2018 72nd Tony Awards with 12 Tony nominations.

Kallas said the production is for audiences of all ages. “It’s definitely an uplifting show” about community, inclusion and “being a positive person and what it means to be a good neighbor.”

“Everybody could use a little positivity in their life,” he added.


From Broadway World:

First Look At The National Tour Of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL!
by BWW News Desk Sep. 25, 2019


The North American Tour of Nickelodeon's THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL launched at PROCTORS in Schenectady, NY this week before bringing Bikini Bottom and its beloved residents to previously announced engagements in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and more.

Check out a first look at the tour's three leads in action!

Check out the full list of dates and tour stops [above]!

For ticket information and additional dates, visit

Broadway's best creative minds reimagine and bring to life the beloved Nickelodeon series with humor, heart and pure theatricality in a neon-sparkly "party for the eyes and ears" (Daily Beast). Be there when SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face catastrophe-until a most unexpected hero rises to take center stage. This "creative explosion" ( is "nothing short of genius" says TheaterMania, so bring the entire family to celebrate friendship and cooperation, and learn the power of unity and inclusion.

THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL explodes with energy and features an original pop and rock-infused score by a legendary roster of Grammy Award®-winning songwriters. Led and conceived by visionary director Tina Landau (2018 Tony Award nominee) and a Tony Award®-winning design team, the production brings the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart, and pure theatricality. THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL features a book byKyle Jarrow, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt, musical supervision by Julie McBride & Tim Hanson, and choreography by Christopher Gattelli. The design team includes scenic and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Kevin Adams, projection design by Peter Nigrini, sound design by Walter Trarbach, hair and wig design byCharles G. LaPointe, make-up design by Joe Dulude II, foley design by Mike Dobson, and casting by Stewart/Whitley.

THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is a one-of-a-kind musical event with original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani & Lil'C and songs by David Bowie & Brian Eno, and by Tom Kenny & Andy Paley. Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Additional music by Tom Kitt.


From The Boston Globe:

The VIP Lounge with Morgan Blanchard

Blanchard, from Portsmouth, N.H., plays Patchy the Pirate in “The SpongeBob Musical,” coming to the Boch Center Wang Theatre Oct. 15-Oct. 27.

While Morgan Blanchard was growing up in Portsmouth, N.H., he and his family would drive to Boston to attend theater productions in Boston. “The first musical I ever saw was at the Wang. It was ‘Cats,’ ” recalled Blanchard (who plays Patchy the Pirate in “The SpongeBob Musical,” coming to the Boch Center Wang Theatre Oct. 15-27) in a recent phone interview. “It was so magical to be this young kid seeing these shows, and now I get to be the person I was looking up to at that time. It’s nice to hopefully be [performing at] someone’s first musical -- and I’m assuming with ‘SpongeBob’ that there will be a lot of new audiences.” Blanchard was quick to point out that the Tony-nominated show, based on the beloved animated series on Nickelodeon, is not just for kids. “The show has an incredibly relevant and important message that I think a lot of people need to hear -- especially now -- about community and coming together and celebrating each other and all of our differences,” he said. In addition to seeing family and friends when the national tour lands in Boston, Blanchard said he is most excited about “sleeping in my own bed” at his parents’ home in Portsmouth. “I live out of a suitcase, so it will be nice to be home,” said Blanchard, who graduated from Ithaca College last year and immediately joined the national tour of “The Sound of Music” before joining the cast of “The SpongeBob Musical.“ We caught up with the 23-year-old actor to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination?

London – no question. While in college, I studied abroad in London for four months and it was a pivotal moment for my personal growth. The city’s history, parks, and commitment to the arts offer a myriad of activities to explore.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing?

Wine. Always wine. And of course any sort of delicacy from the place I’m visiting. I love trying new things.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

Italy. It’s where my family is from, and who doesn’t love Italian food?

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

A journal. I always make sure to travel with a journal so I can keep track of my entire trip and look back on the memories.

Aisle or window?

Window – so I can look out and see my destination from above.

Favorite childhood travel memory?

My mother works for a travel agency so we would travel constantly as a kid. But my favorite memory has to be my trip to Japan with a student ambassador group when I was in middle school. It was a complete culture shock . . . and such a beautiful country.

Guilty pleasure when traveling?

Farmers’ markets. I always make sure to find the local farmers’ markets in each destination. Local markets can tell you so much about a city and those who inhabit it. And the food is cheap.

Best travel tip?

Try traveling alone. You’ll get to do exactly what you want and hopefully make some friends along the way. And always strike up conversations with strangers.



‘SpongeBob’ made a splash on Broadway. Now, he’s headed to Boston.

SpongeBob SquarePants may live in a pineapple under the sea, but for the next few months, he’s taking it on the road. A little more than a year after its Broadway run, “The SpongeBob Musical” is on a 45-city national tour. Its fourth stop? Boston’s Wang Theatre, where the splashy celebration will take the stage from Oct. 15 to 27.

The musical adaptation of the beloved Nickelodeon series follows your favorite absorbent, yellow, and porous sea dwelling played by Lorenzo Pugliese, as well as Patrick (Beau Bradshaw), Sandy Cheeks (Daria Pilar Redus), Squidward (Cody Cooley), and the rest of Bikini Bottom’s usual suspects. In this episode, the town grapples with news that volcano “Mount Humongous” may erupt and destroy their beloved underwater city.

“SpongeBob” originally premiered in Chicago in June 2016 prior to its Broadway debut in December 2017. It quickly earned critical success, snagging 12 Tony nominations to tie with “Mean Girls” for the most nods that year, and won Best Musical at both the 2018 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.

The show is conceived by Tina Landau, who has served as director for all of its iterations. The musical also features a book by Kyle Jarrow, choreography by Christopher Gatteli, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt, and music by a slew of Grammy Award-winning artists including John Legend, Lady Antebellum, T.I., and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Boston-born band Aerosmith.

While the show is an adaptation of the animated hit, it is not a replica. Instead of theme park-style getups, the actors wear clothing reminiscent of their characters — SpongeBob dons a yellow shirt and red tie, Mr. Krabs has red boxing gloves as hands, and Sandy’s costume is accessorized by her signature pink flower. And while the TV series was created for the younger set, that’s not the case for its musical counterpart.

“[Landau] said on Broadway they would say, ”SpongeBob the Broadway Musical’ — it’s so good, you can even bring your kid.’ It’s made for everyone,” cast member Morgan Blanchard told over the phone. “It confronts a lot of ideas that we are struggling with right now in terms of community and coming together and the obsession over fear, and how we use fear to either dominate or divide and how destructive that can be, which I think is arguably more relevant to adults than it is to children.”

Blanchard plays Patchy the Pirate, the show’s sole human character and one he describes as a “whack-a-doodle superfan of SpongeBob.” You may remember the character from the animated series’s occasional live-action segments. For Blanchard, a Portsmouth, N.H. native, the Boston leg of the tour holds personal significance. Growing up, he would come into the city around six or seven times a year to see theatrical productions. And although he spent last year on the national tour of “The Sound of Music,” this month will mark his first time taking the Boston stage.

“I’ve been waiting to come to the Wang [Theatre], he said. “It’s just a childhood dream to do that.”

The SpongeBob Musical; Tuesday, Oct. 15 – Sunday, Oct. 27 at various times; Wang Theatre, Boston; $25 – $125; all ages


From Easton Journal:

Bikini Bottom comes to Boston with ‘The SpongeBob Musical’

Starring as SpongeBob in the North American tour is Scranton, Pennsylvania, native Lorenzo Pugliese, a 2019 graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. By telephone recently from Hartford, Connecticut, Pugliese talked about what it’s like to be making his road show debut and more.

Of all the leading male characters in Broadway musicals, there’s only one based on a rectangular kitchen sponge – the always absorbing SpongeBob.

The title character in Nickelodeon’s long-running animated television comedy series “SpongeBob SquarePants” stepped onto the stage in June 2016, when “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” premiered in Chicago before opening on Broadway at the Palace Theatre in December 2017.

Conceived and directed by Tina Landau, with book by Kyle Jarrow, choreography by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli, and orchestrations and arrangements by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Kitt, the Broadway production earned 12 Tony Award nominations in 2018.

It won for Best Scenic Design in a Musical for David Zinn’s recreation of the underwater world of SpongeBob and his friends in Bikini Bottom.

With a refashioned title, “The SpongeBob Musical” is now on a tour coming to Boston’s Boch Center Wang Theatre on Oct. 15, with a score that includes songs by Yolanda Adams, David Bowie, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, and others.

Starring as SpongeBob in the North American tour is Scranton, Pennsylvania, native Lorenzo Pugliese, a 2019 graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. By telephone recently from Hartford, Connecticut, Pugliese talked about what it’s like to be making his road show debut and more.

Q: Before you landed this role, what would you have thought if someone had told you that you’d be playing a sponge on your first tour in a musical?

A: Someone actually did tell me that. It was my sophomore year in college, and a friend who’d seen “SpongeBob” in New York, told me that I’d be perfect for the role. It sounded kind of crazy at first, because I didn’t know anything about the musical. Not too long after, though, my girlfriend, Julia Toitch, took me to see the Broadway show as “character research.” Then I understood what the person meant.

Q: What is it like bringing an iconic animated character like SpongeBob to life on stage?

A: It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s incredibly high energy, but with every moment super calculated. The cool thing, though, is that there’s so much truth and humanity in these characters. Tina Landau directs us to do human portrayals of these characters, rather that caricatures.

One of my favorite things about SpongeBob is that he actively wants to become manager at the Krusty Krab restaurant. He is working toward a goal, which I respect.

Q: Are you fan of the “SpongeBob SquarePants” series?

A: I loved it as a kid. There’s a line that SpongeBob says every day, “Good morning, world, and all who inhabit it.” I used to wake up every morning and scream it out my bedroom window. Now it’s my very first line in the musical.

Q: Who’s your favorite character and why?

A: SpongeBob is definitely my favorite character – always has been, always will be. He’s wacky and outlandish which makes him not only very appealing to the audience, but also great fun for me to play as a performer.

Q: Some amazing songwriters have contributed to this score. What’s it like to get to do their music?

A: Having the music of all these different artists in one score means we can do everything from country and pop to rock. The song by Bowie and Brian Eno, “No Control,” in act one is very panicky and works just perfectly with the story. And that’s just one of the great numbers in this show.

Q: What’s your favorite musical number from the show?

A: My favorite is Squidward’s big number “I’m Not a Loser” by They Might Be Giants. It’s a flawless, perfectly crafted, Golden Age of Broadway number that’s marvelously performed by our Squidward, Cody Cooley, and company. I’m offstage, but I watch it from the wings every night. I love it!


From Metro US:

New England native sets sail in ‘The Spongebob Musical’

Morgan Blanchard on bringing the show’s first national tour to Boston.

Are you ready kids, because “The Spongebob Musical” ships up to Boston this month as part of the show’s first national tour.

Set to take over the Wang Theatre Oct. 15-27, the hit production based on the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon earned 12 Tony nominations and one win during its initial run on Broadway. After kicking off the national tour in Schenectady last month, Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward and the rest of the Bikini Bottom gang are finally heading to the Hub, and they’re setting sail with a special cast member who knows how to navigate Boston’s dirty water.

New England native Morgan Blanchard takes on the role of Patchy the Pirate in “The Spongebob Musical,” and he is thrilled to bring the show to his old stomping grounds. In fact, the Wang Theatre was where Blanchard saw his first touring show, “The Phantom of the Opera,” as a kid while growing up in Rye, N.H., just outside of Portsmouth.

“I could not be more excited,” Blanchard tells Metro. “Just to perform at the Wang is the craziest thing in the world. It’s where I grew up seeing all the tours coming through.”

Ever since his first school play in kindergarten, Blanchard has been enamored with theater and the arts. He scored his first role with a professional show in fifth grade as part of a production of “The Sound of Music” at Prescott Park, and hasn’t slowed down since.

“I kind of did theater non-stop from that moment on,” says Blanchard, who has a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College.

With a slew of regional and national credits under his belt, Blanchard knew early on in high school that he wanted to make a career out of his creative outlets.

“Probably my freshman year of high school is when I knew that this is what I wanted to do,” says Blanchard. “Fortunately I had parents who were so supportive and ready to back me in that regardless of whether it’s stable or not.”

Having been a fan of the franchise since childhood, Blanchard admits that playing Patchy the Pirate in “The Spongebob Musical” is a massive opportunity, and he’s determined to give it his all since so many fans across the globe love the swashbuckling character from the cartoon.

“It’s pretty huge,” says Blanchard. “It’s the biggest opportunity I’ve come across yet and I’m so grateful.”

“It’s such a blast to bring to life these cartoon characters that you think are so surface level,” he adds, “but they’re actually very detailed and can tell a really relevant and truthful story.”

As for why Spongebob and his pals have had such a big impact on culture over the decades, Blanchard notes that part of it is due to the show’s focus on community.

“The whole concept of Bikini Bottom,” says Blanchard. “This idea of community is very relatable. That’s what keeps people coming back to it.”

There’s also the show’s unique brand of humor, which Blanchard believes has influenced an entire generation of fans.

“The humor really has morphed our generation,” says Blanchard. “The way our generation finds things funny is incredibly shaped by Spongebob and other Nickelodeon cartoons.”

Oct. 15-27, Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., $25+,



Portsmouth native performing in ‘SpongeBob Musical’ in Boston

PORTSMOUTH - The award-winning “SpongeBob Musical” is making its national 45-city tour stop in Boston this week, featuring Portsmouth native Morgan Blanchard who will be performing in his debut tour as Patchy the Pirate.

During its initial run on Broadway, Tina Landau’s Nickelodeon cartoon-based production earned 12 Tony nominations with a win. “SpongeBob” originally premiered in Chicago in June 2016 prior to its Broadway debut in December 2017. The reinvented “SpongeBob Musical” opens at the Boch Center Wang Theatre Tuesday and runs through Oct. 27.

“It is the Broadway production, but we reconstructed it a little so it could work on tour, moving from theater to theater,” Blanchard said. “As much as it’s a Broadway production, it’s kind of a new version. We tried out some new things. It’s cool to be able to work on something that’s kind of transforming.”

Blanchard is a 2014 Portsmouth High School graduate and 2018 graduate of Ithaca College where he earned his degree in musical theater with an acting focus.

“It all basically started in my early-on music class with Tammy Burns, who was the music teacher at my elementary school at the time, who I still keep in touch with and love dearly,” he said. “When I was in fifth grade, I auditioned for ‘The Sound of Music’ at Prescott Park and did that.”

From then on, Blanchard performed in several summer productions at Prescott Park in Portsmouth and went on to do work with Mainstage Theatre and the Seacoast Repertory Theatre along with multiple high school plays.

Almost immediately after college graduation, Blanchard went on tour with “The Sound of Music,” his first professional show and then wrapped up in June 2019, just a month before committing to “SpongeBob Musical.”

“Technically, I live in New York. I have an apartment in the city,” he said. “But really, I live out of a suitcase right now in the middle of the country.”

Blanchard says performing Patchy the Pirate in the “SpongeBob Musical” has easily been his favorite, most entertaining role yet. On top of his main role, he performs in the show’s ensemble as well so he has the opportunity to play a lot of different roles.

Although this performance is anticipated by the crowd to be a reimagining of the beloved television series, it is not the same. While the comedy show was originally crafted for a younger crowd, Blanchard said, this musical is set to attract a much broader audience, and is inviting to all ages.

“It’s made for everyone,” said Blanchard.

Blanchard also mentioned that the performance contains messages that allude to coming together through inclusivity, giving younger audience members first-time exposure to theater in a positive way.


From The Oklahoman:

What to do in Oklahoma on Nov. 12, 2019: See 'The SpongeBob Musical' at OKC's Civic Center Music Hall

Today's featured event:

Plunge into the colorful undersea world of Bikini Bottom as the national tour of "The SpongeBob Musical," the Tony-winning Broadway hit based on the 20-year-old Nickelodeon animated series, opens in Oklahoma City at 7:30 tonight at the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.

Aimed at multigenerational audiences, performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday.

As previously reported, the show features musical numbers by John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Aerosmith, They Might Be Giants, David Bowie and Brian Eno, Sara Bareilles, Yolanda Adams, Cyndi Lauper, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's and Oklahoma City-based art-rockers The Flaming Lips

"I was a huge fan of the show growing up," "The SpongeBob Musical" star Lorenzo Pugliese told me in an interview. "I think when you're able to create something that's so unique and so different but also somehow so relatable and identifiable with the general population, it's really something special. And I think that that's exactly what they did with SpongeBob. And I think that's why it's done so well for so long."

To read more of my preview of "The SpongeBob Musical," click here.

For tickets and information, go to or call 594-8300.

For more Oklahoma events, go to


From The Times Herald:

Collegeville native starring in "The SpongeBob Musical." coming to Forrest Theater

Tristan McIntyre as Sheldon Plankton, left, and Caitlin Ort as Karen the Computer in The SpongeBob Musical, playing the Forrest Theatre December 3 through 15. photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

COLLEGEVILLE — Her "SpongeBob Musical" character may be a long way from the queen of "South Pacific," Nellie Forbush, but Caitlin Ort brings her passion for musical theater to both roles equally.

" 'South Pacific' is such a beautiful story; it's definitely one of my favorite musicals. The music is just timeless," noted the Collegeville native, on the phone from Oklahoma City, her current stop touring with "The SpongeBob Musical."

Ort has appeared in both professional and community theater versions of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic "South Pacific."

"It was a very fulfilling experience working on that show because the message is so important, about tolerance of people who are different than you and finding similarities in people you assumed are very different from you."

Bringing SpongeBob's Karen the Computer to life was a decidedly different experience, noted Ort, who stars in The SpongeBob Musical" at the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia Dec. 3 through 15.

"I grew up on SpongeBob, so I was familiar with the cartoon character, but what's different about this show is that in the cartoon she is a computer but in the musical she is portrayed as a humanized version of the character," Ort said of the show. "All of the characters have their own human versions of these roles and very much have a human take, and the director, Tina Landau, had so many cool ideas about how my character moves through space and she is influenced by robotic movement but still has a human quality about what her needs and wants are. It's very much taking inspiration from the cartoon characters but making them human. The show is very much what the Broadway production was, same costume design, set design and choreography. Tina is a collaborative director and is an ensemble-first director. So what we do onstage we can take ownership of because we developed it as a group. Tina was very open and communicative with us if we had questions or ideas we wanted to try out."

Inspired by the long-running Nickelodeon TV program, "The SpongeBob Musical" won a 2018 Tony award and was a 2019 Best Musical winner of the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. The production stars 2019 University of the Arts graduate and Scranton, PA native Lorenzo Pugliese as 'SpongeBob Squarepants" and features an original pop and rock-infused musical score by a roster of Grammy Award-winning songwriters, including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Lady Antebellum, The Flaming Lips, Cyndi Lauper and many others.

Caitlin Ort credits her early love of musical theater to the roles she played in Methacton Community Theater productions.

The show was created for a diverse audience, noted Ort, who received a BFA in Musical Theater from Ithaca College.

"Most of our audiences are a mix of adults who want to bring their kids to the show or are in their 20s and 30s and grew up with SpongeBob and want to see the musical version of it. It's sophisticated enough for an adult to appreciate but iconic for children to recognize these characters and appreciate all the colors and the dancing and the music. So it's really a show that anyone can enjoy," Ort said. "It's a departure from the cartoon because it's not recreating anything from the cartoon. It's an entirely different story. It is a Broadway musical for all different types of audience members. It really is a show for everyone."

Ort, a 2012 Methacton High School grad now living in New York, won the role after a series of auditions, she explained.

"I was familiar with the casting agency so I contacted the casting office and asked for an appointment to be seen because I thought that I was really right for it. I auditioned for them seven times over the course of about five weeks. Then I just waited for a few months and I got a phone call saying I got the part. When national tours are going out oftentimes they call people in several times, especially when you're going in for such a big role. The creative team often wants to work with you as much as you can to see how you take direction see if you're a right fit for it."

Ort's interest in musical theater began at a young age, when she appeared in local community theater productions, she recalled.

"The first musical I ever did was with Methacton Community Theater when they did 'The King and I.' I've been hooked on it ever since, trying to get involved with as many community theater shows as I could, and also the high school productions."

It all naturally evolved into a desire for a career in the industry, she said.

"I wasn't sure it was even something you could pursue a degree in, but my older sister Megan and I both learned that you could pursue a degree in performance arts. We both ended up going to Ithaca College and getting degrees in musical theater," Ort said.

With Megan now touring with a professional opera company, both sisters achieved success fairly quickly.

Ort's professional credits also include roles in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (Frieda); "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (Mistress Ford), "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" (Actress 1); "Ragtime" (Evelyn Nesbit); "Show Boat" (Kim Ravenal)"; "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (Hedy LaRue) and "Jesus Christ Superstar."

Her website is

"I've been very fortunate with the work that's been coming my way since I graduated," Ort said. "I think a lot of it has to do with having a very supportive family. My sisters and my parents have just been so supportive of me having a career. They kept my spirits up even when I auditioned for hundreds and hundreds of jobs and only a small percentage (panned out), so I think that's one of the reasons I've been having success. I do have this huge passion for live theater," she added, "but I'm also interested in different forms of the entertainment business so I've been thinking of branching out lately."


From app.:

'SpongeBob' splashes into State Theatre, four-legged tap dancing and all

Like a lot of people, Cody Cooley was a little skeptical when he heard "SpongeBob SquarePants" was being made into a Broadway musical.

And then, like a lot of people, he was blown away when he saw it.

And that's a very good thing, since the 2016 Rider University theater graduate now is enjoying every moment of playing Squidward with the show's national tour, hitting the State Theatre in New Brunswick from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

Cody Cooley stars as Squidward in the national tour of "SpongeBob SquarePants" the musical, hitting the State Theatre in New Brunswick this weekend. Courtesy of State Theatre

The show features a book by Kyle Jarrow and music from an all-star group including Sara Bareilles, Panic! At The Disco, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Plain White T's and more, orchestrated by Tom Kitt.

"I liked it. I loved it. I thought it was a lot of fun. I was not the biggest supporter of it when it first came because, you know 'SpongeBob on Broadway, why is that a musical?' But it was cool. I really loved it. I thought it was great. I wanted to be a part of it and I'm very happy to be part of the tour."

And he says Squidward is the perfect role for him.

Cody Cooley stars as Squidward in the national tour of "SpongeBob SquarePants" the musical, hitting the State Theatre in New Brunswick this weekend. Courtesy of State Theatre

"When I watched the cartoon — I got into it a little bit later than most people — I definitely identified with Squidward as a character because he's very sarcastic and he's not this energy bubble of optimism. He's definitely the realist of the group. I love playing the sarcastic character or the grouchy, one-liner, spring everybody back into reality, which is fun."

Oh, and he tap dances. On four legs.

Cooley says he got to start rehearsing with the costume much earlier than his castmates, and it helped him not only navigate the physical challenges, but really get into Squidward's head.

"It's definitely informative of the character. I would definitely say that it has helped me embody the character more because I stand differently. I walk differently. I act differently. It was fun. It was fun to work in them and to figure out how to make everything happen throughout the process."

The high-energy, inventive show was known for surrounding its audience with color and creativity on Broadway, and Cooley says that director Tina Landau and set designer David Zinn worked incredibly hard to keep that experience alive on tour, despite the challenges of constantly working in different venues.

"The SpongeBob Musical" splashes into the State Theatre in New Brunswick from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. Courtesy of the State Theatre

"On Broadway it a massive set. And there were things out in the audience, like the Rube Goldberg machines, and they found ways to have that same feel, but have it be able to tour."

The changing venues bring a challenge to any touring production, but "SpongeBob" may present some extra challenges.

"It definitely is dependent on the space. It definitely uses what the theater has to give and it's different in every space. It's different in every venue because it's so unique. We always get a breakdown of what is happening with the show and each venue. So we'll say 'This part is different tonight or this week. Someone will enter from here instead of all the way at the back of the house.' So it definitely is interesting to always go into work on Tuesday and find out what's different with the show."

Cooley says that in addition to the joy and creativity surrounding "SpongeBob," the show's messages also make it an key production for the times.

"The SpongeBob Musical" splashes into the State Theatre in New Brunswick from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. Courtesy of the State Theatre

"I think its message of community is incredibly important because our day and age, you know? There's so much political fighting. There's so much pandering to businesses. So much is about opposites or about tearing people apart or tearing people down. And that really happens in the show. The show is about the natural disaster that takes over a town and how people deal with it. And at the end of the day, it comes down to community and how people react to each other and how people can build each other up rather than blame one another or point the finger at somebody else."

Cooley says the "SpongeBob" Broadway cast has been "incredibly supportive" of the tour cast. He said the tour can't wait to watch "The SpongeBob Musical: Live on Stage!," which was recently filmed with most of the original cast reunited. The show is set to air at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 on Nickelodeon.

Cooley loves that so many young people come to see "SpongeBob" on tour, including a lot of children seeing their first musical.

"When I took the contract, that's one of the things that I was really adamant about. I said that I never want to give a bad performance because there's always the person in the back of the balcony who this is their first time seeing a show ... I don't want to let anyone down. And that's really important to me."

For tickets to "SpongeBob" at the State Theatre, visit

Also coming up next week in the State Theatre's Broadway Series is "Jersey Boys," which hits the stage for two performances on Dec. 3 and 4.


From phindie:

Visiting Bikini Bottom with Tristan McIntyre, star of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL

Tristan McIntyre

Among his many other skills, Tristan McIntyre can proudly add “planktonic copepod” to his list of theater roles. McIntyre joins SpongeBob and the proud residents of Bikini Bottom in the heartwarming production of The SpongeBob Musical. McIntyre is starring as Sheldon Plankton, who runs the unsuccessful Chum Bucket restaurant, with his wife. The show is based on the Nickelodeon TV show and features original songs from John Legend, Lady Antebellum and many more!

The SpongeBob Musical runs December 3-15, 2019, at the Forrest Theatre [1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia]. Visit for ticket information.

Debra Danese: How would you describe your character, Sheldon Plankton?

Tristan McIntyre: Deliciously evil! Small in stature, but big in intellect, presence, voice, and every other sense of the word. He may be the villain of the story, but I find him to be quite admirable. For Plankton, failure is never an option. No matter how many of his schemes fail, he always persists. He is misunderstood in a community of sea creatures who, both figuratively and literally, look down on him. In fact, Plankton had to overcome odds that could have limited his desirability to rise beyond himself: he’s small, comes from an idiotic family, possesses an intelligence far superior to other residents in Bikini Bottom, has been betrayed by his comrades, and has still succeeded. He’s established his own establishment, the Chum Bucket, built his own wife, Karen the Computer, and has created inventions that, although don’t always work, are quite brilliant. What others perceive as unfriendliness is no more than a defense mechanism. Plankton is capable of care until the animosity and idiocy of others forces him to retreat back to his own ways.

DD: Sheldon is plankton. What exactly is that?

TM: It is one-celled microorganism with a cylindrical-like body and prominent antennae. The way our Tony award winning costume and set designer, David Zinn, translates this onto the stage is magical. It consists of a polished, textured green suit with an eye patch to represent Plankton’s one eye and a slicked-back black wig with two braids to depict his two antennas. It’s brilliant. Plus, I get to wear custom made Nike air forces…so yeah, best costume I’ve ever worn!

DD: You say that you “accidentally” graduated a year early from school. I’m sure many students would like to know how that happened! Can you explain?

TM: Ha! Yes! I enrolled at the University of Southern California for theater with the intention of completing my degree in four years, but I actually got out in three! I walked into my junior advisement meeting last year, around this time, and my adviser said I could graduate in the spring if I wanted to. I came in with a bunch of AP credits and ridiculously took 21 units a semester, but I never considered this an option. I initially said no, but then a week later, I woke up with an epiphany to start working so I emailed him back and said, “I changed my mind…put me on the fast-track!” I had no plans whatsoever. I happened to audition for SpongeBob on my last day of college classes for the one day they were auditioning in LA and got the news that I booked the job a week after graduation. So it truly was an accident!

DD: You are a recipient of the John Ritter Memorial Award. Tell us about that honor.

TM: Sure! At USC, our renowned faculty at the School of Dramatic Arts provides select awards to distinguished performances from the season. The John Ritter Memorial was founded in honor of the late comedian John Ritter, alum of USC, and honors the dramatic arts student who has given the most outstanding comic performance during the season. I received the award for my performance as Tisiphone, a fury and fabulous drag queen, in Roberto Aguirre-Saccassa’s play, Rough Magic. From the award, I received scholarship money that I am able to use towards my student debt. It is also from this performance that a faculty member referred me to the managers that I am now signed with, so I am truly grateful for this performance and honor.

DD: What has been the most unexpected part of touring so far?

TM: How much of a family you become with these people, because all you really have is each other. Also, I’m constantly surprised by how exhausting the nature of touring really is! I have the same response to all my friends who ask me how it’s going: “Tiring. Stressful. Frustrating. Rewarding. Incredible. Enriching. Amazing. All of the above and so much more.” I’m the baby of the cast, so it may be expected that I’d be the one going out every night and exploring each city we’re in, but I surprise myself in regards to how boring I actually am. Most days, I sleep in, have a late breakfast, binge watch a TV show (currently Breaking Bad,) go the gym, warm-up for the show, do the show, shower, and unwind in my hotel room. Eight shows a week is demanding, so I often don’t feel the need to go out and utilize all the energy I need for the show. With that said, fresh out of college, I have also never done eight shows a week before. It’s definitely a test of my stamina, but I’m happy to discover that I absolutely love it. I have something to look forward to doing every single day, especially in a production where our main mission is to scatter joy and in a role I have grown to love so much.

DD: What is your favorite all-time musical soundtrack?

TM: A Chorus Line!

[National tour at Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut Street] December 3-15, 2019;


From The Philadelphia Sunday Sun:

U Arts graduate Lorenzo Pugliese stars as SpongeBob in ‘The SpongeBob Musical’

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants!”

The opening line of the “SpongeBob SquarePants” theme song brings a smile to most faces. The Nickelodeon animated series, “SpongeBob SquarePants” tells the adventures of a yellow sponge SpongeBob, his pet snail Gary, his starfish best friend Patrick, his squirrel friend Sandy and a host of other characters including Squidworth, Mr. Krabs and Plankton. SpongeBob and his aquatic friends, find themselves in hilarious situations as they navigate life in their home, Bikini Bottom.

In 2017, SpongeBob premiered on Broadway at the Palace Theatre. Since its opening, “The SpongeBob Musical” has earned 12 Tony nominations. Scranton native Lorenzo Pugliese stars as the title character in the shows North American tour, which opened in September of this year. Pugliese spoke with The SUN about playing the beloved character.

When Pugliese was a child, he dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. After a teacher encouraged him to audition for a musical, he realized his calling.

“When I was younger, I was more of a sports kid, but my dad was making me take piano lessons,” he said. “My piano teacher asked me to audition for a youth theater production of High School Musical. I auditioned and got the lead role. When I got on stage for the first time and sang that first song, I knew it was something special.”

Pugliese went on to pursue his passion for performance by attending The University of The Arts (U Arts) in Philadelphia.

“I really liked U Arts and I really liked Philadelphia,” he said. “To be able to go back to the place I just graduated from, where I found myself as an artist, where so many of my friendships and my relationship with my girlfriend blossomed… to do this show there is a dream come true! Philadelphia feels like a second home to me, so this really feels like my homecoming for this tour.”

Not long after graduation, a week to be precise, Pugliese landed the lead role of SpongeBob in the North American tour.

“It feels like I won the lottery! It really is such a gift to be able to bring such an iconic character that brings so much joy to audiences across America.,” he said.

“The SpongeBob Musical much like the television series offers audiences an engaging and entertaining story.

“It takes place in the iconic Bikini Bottom,” Pugliese said. “It’s just a normal day and then it’s announced that this long-standing volcano of doom that’s been lying dormant for many years is set to erupt the following evening. There’s widespread panic and the show follows the different ways that the citizens react to this news. Of course, someone has to try to save the day… I wonder who that could be.”

The SpongeBob Musical also features an incredibly diverse soundtrack written by some of the biggest artists in music such as Sara Bareilles, John Legend, Yolanda Adams and more.

“My favorite song to sing in the show is “I Guess I Miss You” by John Legend. It’s a really beautiful song… a duet between SpongeBob and Patrick. They’re apart and they’re realizing for the first time what it feels like to miss someone. It’s genuine and a really nice change of pace for the show. It’s also the one song in the show where I get to sit down and sing and I’m not running all over the place.”

Although the show brings a lot of joy to its audiences, it also requires a deal of preparation.

“This role is the hardest role I’ve ever had to play,” Pugliese said. “Every day before the show I have to warm up for an hour… physical and vocal. Most of the preparation comes from the incredible work that Tina Landau (director), Chris Gattelli (choreographer) and all of the creative team have done to create this world. The physicality and language of this show really feels like it does the work for you. Once you absorb all of the information, it’s just about trusting that you know it… staying connected with your fellow actors and staying in the present moment.”

Pugliese shared his gratitude in being a part of this show in such a huge capacity.

“Seeing the amount of joy that this show brings people has been a gift. It really affects people of all ages… kids, millennials and older people as well,” he said. “Everyone that comes to see the show leaves with a smile on their face. The effect that this show has on people is super rewarding.”

Be sure to follow Lorenzo Pugliese on Instagram @lorenzo_m_pugliese. “The SpongeBob Musical” will be at The Forrest Theatre December 3 through December 15. For more information on tickets and showtimes, visit


From The Star:

How ‘The SpongeBob Musical’ brought director Tina Landau back to her avant-garde roots

NEW YORK CITY—He might live in a pineapple under the sea. His best friends might be a starfish and a squirrel. He might be named after his unsophisticated fashion choices. But SpongeBob SquarePants runs much deeper than most Broadway fans expected when “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” premiered in late 2017.

In a big-budget market saturated with film and TV adaptations and pop music catalogues, something as transparently kitschy as a stage version of the Nickelodeon cartoon series appeared, at first, like another product in the assembly line.

“All I could imagine was some big arena show with big prosthetic costumes and puppet heads; I just assumed that that’s what they wanted to do,” director Tina Landau told the Star about her immediate reaction to Nickelodeon’s call for proposals for a “SpongeBob” musical.

Landau is an estimable name from New York’s experimental theatre scene of the 1980s and ’90s; a long-time director at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre; and a frequent collaborator with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (“The Brothers Size, “Moonlight”).

Her interest in “SpongeBob” was piqued when she heard that Stephen Hillenburg, the late creator of the cartoon series, was “only interested in doing the musical if it can somehow have the ‘indie spirit’ with which he created the show in the first place.”

“I said I don’t know what that means, but it sounds more intriguing.”

So Landau pitched three main components that still remain pivotal to the production, which comes to Toronto next week: an immersive setting; the characters are humans, not puppets or mascots; and the score echoes the original series’ mash-up of artists and styles.

Whereas traditional musicals features one or two composers and lyricists, the soundtrack for the “SpongeBob” musical features original songs by the Flaming Lips, John Legend, Aerosmith, T.I., They Might Be Giants, and David Bowie and Brian Eno among others (nearly everyone on the wish list of Landau and book writer Kyle Jarrow said yes, as nearly everyone was already a “SpongeBob” fan).

The result brought 12 Tony nominations with one win for scenic design, plus six Drama Desk Awards in 2018, including Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Director of a Musical for Landau.

While her earliest encounters with theatre involved the kind of Broadway musical she would later direct, like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Cabaret,” Landau gravitated to the avant-garde scene in her early career, working with playwright Edward Bond and Anne Hamburger’s En Garde Arts, where she first staged immersive experimental productions in New York City.

“I think the experience of growing up, feeling somehow like a misfit in terms of any number of things in my life from being a woman, to being Jewish, to being gay, drew me to a world where there were entirely other ways of looking at how reality is constructed,” she said.

“What the more avant-garde experimental world offered me was a place where otherness, be it in human form or in theatrical conceit, was embraced. It’s interesting looking back at it now … because I could trace the seeds of ‘SpongeBob’ right to there.”

The musical developed slowly over about nine years, but it began with a room of Landau’s colleagues: “performers and clowns and dancers and designers and contortionists and musicians,” she said. And as she dove deeper into Hillenburg’s underwater world of Bikini Bottom, she discovered more parallels between the cartoon and her formative years in the experimental scene.

“One of the ‘SpongeBob’ artists in L.A. said that it’s an homage to (the art movement) Dada and it’s really true … The visual world of Bikini Bottom is really, I think, fundamentally based on putting things that don’t fit together, together.

“You end up with a kitchen sponge who lives in a pineapple, who has a pet snail that says ‘Meow.’ So I was really intrigued by the notion of looking at things not for what we know them to be, but for how they might be used, or used to invent something new, and that guided everything,” she said.

“I think the world is very contemporary and a mash-up of culture, and there’s a whole level of how it operates conceptually that little kids of a certain age wouldn’t catch but is of endless fascination and amusement for adults.”

Now that Landau has been immersed in “SpongeBob” for over a decade, she still can’t watch more than an episode or two at a time: its pace is a little too frenetic for her taste. But she says that creating the stage version has been worth the earworms despite her early hesitation, which she sees echoed in its audiences.

“I wish there was a more open-hearted embrace from the get-go. But even to this day, I think the general pattern of response is, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go see that.’ ‘Oh, I loved it.’ People have all sorts of doubts, which I understand, but folks come out of that theatre on some kind of SpongeBob high,” she said.

“It’s the antithesis of everything I expected and was skeptical about, and it really proved to be one of, if not the most, artistically fulfilling processes I’ve ever had.”



“The Spongebob Musical” comes to UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall Jan. 21

CONWAY, Ark. (News release) — The University of Central Arkansas’s Reynolds Performance Hall will welcome the critically acclaimed, award-winning production “The Spongebob Musical” on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.

Based on the hit animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the musical features an original pop- and rock-infused score by a legendary roster of Grammy Award-winning songwriters. This one-of-a-kind musical event, which was the 2018 Best Musical winner of both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, includes original songs by Yolanda Adams; Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith; Lady Antebellum; Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman; John Legend; Panic! at the Disco; David Bowie; and others.

Since premiering on Nickelodeon in July 1999, “SpongeBob SquarePants” has emerged as a pop culture phenomenon. The series has reigned as the No. 1 kids’ animated television show for the past 17 years and boasts a global fan base, with episodes appearing in more than 208 countries and territories. The show has been translated into more than 55 languages and averages more than 100 million total viewers every quarter.

“Wonders pour from the stage in a ravishing stream of color and invention,” wrote Time Out New York, as Broadway’s best creative minds reimagine and bring to life the beloved Nickelodeon series with humor, heart and pure theatricality. Audiences of all ages will celebrate friendship and cooperation and learn the power of unity and inclusion.

“Our college students grew up on ‘SpongeBob,’ and they are delighted to see their beloved childhood characters come to life on the Reynolds stage,” said Amanda Horton, director of Reynolds Performance Hall. “We are elated to be able to present a musical that was just very recently on Broadway, with the last performance being Sept. 16. This show is filled with gigantic set pieces, bold costumes, colorful characters and a witty score.”

Tickets are $30 to $40 for adults and $10 for children and students. Tickets may be purchased online at, at the Reynolds Box Office between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling UCA Ticket Central at (501) 450-3265 or toll-free at (866) 810-0012.


From Chron:

Actress’ childhood prepared her for ‘SpongeBob Musical’ role

Daria Pilar Redus will be portraying Sandy Cheeks in the “The SpongeBob Musical.” Photo: Jeremy Daniel.

The one Texas tie to “The SpongeBob Musical” would be Sandy Cheeks. Sandy probably hails from Houston, although her Texas twang might place her more in East Texas, according to actor Daria Pilar Redus, Sandy’s a squirrel.

In its first national tour, Redus, 23, plays Sandy Cheeks in the Broadway musical version of the popular cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants.” The musical comes to the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center on Monday as part of the Broadway in the Basin series.

Redus is no stranger to the character.

“‘SpongeBob’ was a bit part of my childhood. I grew up with her and so for myself and a lot of people my age, they are like our friends,” she said.

“SpongeBob SquarePants,” which has aired on Nickelodeon since 1999, follows the adventures of the title character, a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, and his friends Patrick, a starfish, Squidward Tentacles, an octopus, and Sandy.

When Redus first heard about the show being turned into a stage musical she was both perplexed and delighted.

“I saw the show on Broadway and I just remember watching this gorgeous show but also wondering if it was going to be based on an episode or would it have the same songs,” she said.

What she knew for sure is that she was going to be in the show.

“I said to my friend ‘I’m gonna be a part of this,’” she said. “And here I am. I really can’t believe it has come to fruition.”

Sandy is the Cleveland native’s first role on a grand scale and high exposure. With more than 100 shows in already, she’s still taking it all in stride.

“I wake up every morning and I’m genuinely excited to do this show. The great thing about touring is it always feels fresh with a new venue, city, audience and that always keeps us on our feet,” she said.

Once she landed the role of Sandy Cheeks, Redus prepared for the part -- even though she wasn’t required to do so. Sandy Cheeks is a thrill-seeking animal and that was going to demand some physicality on Redus’ part.

“Sandy is a martial artist and a weightlifter, so yeah, this is quite a physical role. I did hit the weights, and I’m also a dancer and former cheerleader so that helped me. Plus, I had the benefit of watching my brothers grow up doing tae kwon do,” she said. “I loved to take those things that I love and turning them into tools for my character.”

Redus said that while “SpongeBob” may be a children’s cartoon character, the musical -- which was nominated for 12 Tony awards in 2018 -- is as much for adults as it is for younger audiences.

“It really is an experience for all ages, and the music alone is a reason to see it, but I think there’s a storyline that kids can follow and adults can appreciate,” Redus said.

“The SpongeBob Musical,” 7:30 p.m. Monday, Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, 1310 N. Farm-to-Market Road 1788, $57-$97,


From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Buoyant ‘SpongeBob Musical’ sails into Las Vegas

Because when seeking to bring to musical life the take-charge ethos of an animated, sea-dwelling, anthropomorphic squirrel skilled in karate and various rodeo pursuits, of course you turn to the Flaming Lips.

“You just felt like anything was possible,” Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt says on the phone. “You get to just really use your imagination.”
Kitt is explaining what it was like helping orchestrate and arrange “The SpongeBob Musical,” the hit Broadway show based on the batty, beloved Nickelodeon cartoon series that earned 12 Tony Award nominations in 2018 — tied for the most that year — and is now a touring production.

The show’s music supervisor, Kitt both penned original material and contributed to the production’s novel way of generating its musical numbers: A bevy of artists, including David Bowie, rapper T.I. and Vegas’ own Panic! at the Disco, were recruited to write songs for the lively, full-throated romp. It follows SpongeBob and his crew of grumpy squids, affable starfish, cheapskate crab bosses, conniving plankton and more as they confront a potentially cataclysmic volcano that threatens their hometown of Bikini Bottom.

There’s the bluesy bluster of “Bikini Bottom Boogie,” courtesy of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry; the banjo-enhanced swing of “Chop to the Top,” written by Lady Antebellum; the exultant soul of “Super Sea Star Savior,” penned by gospel star Yolanda Adams; and more in the musical’s diverse, high-spirited score.

The way the process worked: Artists would submit songs in various states of completion and Kitt would arrange and orchestrate them for the show’s cast of actors to give them voice.

A Legend, and then some

“When I first came in, there were maybe seven original songs that had been contributed,” says Kitt, a Broadway veteran who’s worked on acclaimed productions from “High Fidelity” to “Next to Normal” to Green Day’s “American Idiot.” “They’d arrive in very different states. Some of them were produced demos; some of them were just piano scratch recordings. One artist was on tour in Europe and sang along with a track into their phone. We really got it in all different forms, and there were things that I would take and run with it.

“You’re wowed that you have this gem that no one has discovered yet,” he continues, “and you get to actually put it in rehearsal and work on it. You knew that these artists were going to bring something really inspired to the table, but because, in the moment, you’re hearing something that’s sort of blowing you away, it’s definitely a feeling of discovery.”

Some songs required more work than others. Take John Legend’s beatific ballad “(I Guess I) Miss You,” which he sent in as a demo.

“I think he was on tour, and it had this sort of raw quality, like he had just been performing a bunch and went into this side room and recorded it,” Kitt recalls. “I was so obsessed with the demo, because it’s such a window into the artist. It had an aching quality that was so personal that he brought to the song. I just wanted to stay out of the way. I added some strings on top of it, but we really wanted John’s beautiful piano arrangement to come through. I think I pretty much just sat down and transcribed what he had written.”

Musical mirth

For Kitt, presenting the show on Broadway, where it debuted in December 2017, provided another challenge: The production’s 18-piece orchestra was the biggest he’d worked with up to that point.

“It was thrilling,” he says of opening night. “The numbers really all just crackled, they all had scope, and each one was landing. I’ll never forget the final performance: All those numbers stopped the show. The audience just couldn’t stop applauding for them.”

As Kitt speaks, he doesn’t try to contain the awe that lingers in his voice.

That’s the thing about SpongeBob — the cartoon, the musical, the movie — the joy at the root of the character.

And so you do as a sponge does: Soak it up.

“I just love that it’s in the world and people get to feel the emotion of this story,” Kitt says of the musical, “which I think, at the end of the day, is about humanity and, when we face adversity, how we need to rally and champion one another — or even when we’re not facing adversity.

“It’s about understanding, and people that believe in one another,” he adds. “I think the themes in this story are really quite beautiful.”


From The Mercury News:

The ‘SpongeBob’ interview: What does it take to be Mr. SquarePants?

“The SpongeBob Musical” opens in San Francisco

The Bay Area is going to look a little more like Bikini Bottom this month as “The SpongeBob Musical” makes its West Coast debut at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco.

The Tony Award-winning play, which opened at the Palace Theatre on Broadway in 2017 under the direction of Tina Landau, runs Feb. 12-16. Tickets are $56-$256,

Of course, the show is based on “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon’s immensely popular animated children’s TV series featuring everyone’s favorite sponge and his fellow undersea residents of Bikini Bottom. The series has been seen in 200-plus different countries and territories, translated into more than 55 languages, since launching in 1999.

Now a whole new legion of fans is joining in on SpongeBob mania through this hit musical, which features original songs from such acclaimed rock/pop artists as Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, Yolanda Adams, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, the Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman, Panic! At the Disco and They Might Be Giants.

Recently I spoke with Lorenzo Pugliese, who performs the title role of SpongeBob SquarePants on this national tour.

Q What were your initial thoughts when you first heard about the musical. Did you think, “Hey, maybe I could be SpongeBob”?

A Actually, one of my friends, my sophomore year in college, heard about “The SpongeBob Musical” when it first came out. He came up and told me I was going to play SpongeBob someday. I didn’t believe him, of course. I thought he was crazy.

Then over the next couple of years, a lot of my friends and peers told me the same thing – that I would be a good fit for the role. And when the open call came out, those same people really urged me to audition.

So, I went out and auditioned and here I am.

Q So, it was prophesized?

A Yeah. (Laughs) Kinda. Thank God for them, because I didn’t know.

Lorenzo Pugliese sings about life as “Just a Simple Sponge” in “The Spongebob Musical.” (Courtesy Jeremy Daniel)
Q Clearly, your friends thought you had the right qualities for the role. What makes someone a good fit to play SpongeBob?

A SpongeBob is a super physical role, so you have to have a lot of energy. And SpongeBob himself is a super optimistic and super uplifting guy, so you have to bring that positivity to the role. Also, the body type – you have to be sort of short and kind of square shaped, which I kind of am.

Q You had the right genes to play SpongeBob.

A It was written in the stars and in my blood.

Q Were you a fan before signing on to do the musical?

A I was a big fan. I watched it growing up. I loved the show. When I was a little kid, I used to wake up in the morning, open the window and yell. (Pugliese channels his best SpongeBob voice) “Good morning world and all who inhabit it!” – which is one of his iconic lines.

Now it’s my first line in the show. It’s a really cool, full-circle moment.

Q Did you have the SpongeBob voice down even back then? Or did you have to work on it?

A I definitely had to work on it. Once I got my first callback, I sort of panicked, locked myself in my room and just kind of experimented until I found it.

Q Was helium a part of the experimentation?

A (Laughs) You know, that would probably be a good idea — except for the fact that I would get pretty lightheaded pretty quickly, just going off stage and taking some helium every couple of minutes.

Q Actually, helium is never a good idea

A No, no, no.

Q You mentioned the role was very physical. What kind of training goes into becoming SpongeBob? A trainer? The gym?

A I have always been a super physical guy. When I was a kid, I played soccer, basketball, wrestling, baseball. I was very much into sports — and I still thoroughly enjoy them. But the specificity in the movement of SpongeBob is unlike anything I have ever worked on. It’s so sharp and quick. It was super challenging to figure out ways to bring that cartoon aspect to life, while also keeping it grounded in humanity and realism. Tina (Landau) really set all of that groundwork and just laid it out for me. She really is the reason that I am able to do SpongeBob eight shows a week.

Q Who is this musical aimed at?

A (It’s) for everyone. Of course, when you hear “SpongeBob Musical”, you think kid show. But much like the TV show, there are jokes in it for everyone. There are political references. There are jokes that will go right over the kids’ heads that the adults will laugh at. There will be jokes that the kids will laugh at. And there are jokes that both the kids and adults laugh at.

Some of the music is written by Aerosmith, John Legend, Yolanda Adams, Cyndi Lauper. It’s insane.

Q Does the show provide any clarification on whether mayonnaise is an instrument?

A (Laughs) That question seems to elude Patrick (the starfish). I will have to leave that one up in the air. You can see the show.

Q Are their any songs in “SpongeBob” that really resonate outside the context of the stage production? Ones that, let’s say, you’d want to crank up in your car?

A Oh, yeah. “I’m Not a Loser” (by They Might Be Giants), I think, is just a perfectly written Golden Age Broadway song. The chord procession is absolutely brilliant. The wordplay is incredible. It’s just a fun song.

Also, “(I Guess I) Miss You” (by John Legend) is a song that you could totally just listen to in the car, if you are going through some heartbreak. It’s a very relatable song. It’s very human. And I think that’s a beautiful part of the show.

Q Does SpongeBob earn enough money from this musical to retire from the Krusty Krab?

A He would never retire from the Krusty Krab! It’s his absolute pride and joy. He does get paid. But he would do it regardless.

Q One last question – and I swear Plankton has nothing to do with me asking this: Can you share the formula for the Krabby Patty?

A Never! I am sworn to secrecy by Mr. Krabs.


From Broadway World Dallas:

BWW Interview: Lorenzo Pugliese of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL at Bass Hall

BWW Interview: Lorenzo Pugliese of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL at Bass HallAs a child, Lorenzo Pugliese would rise from bed and recite SpongeBob Squarepants' iconic morning message "Good morning world and all who inhabit it," as he hopped himself out of bed daily. And now, only a handful of years later, the budding actor is paid to recite those exact words nightly in the first national tour of the Tony Award-nominated THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, in which he makes his touring debut as the titular sea sponge.

We caught up with Pugliese between naps while on the show's tour bus heading as he travels across the country before making his Fort Worth, Texas debut. Read our full conversation below.

Name: Lorenzo Pugliese

Current Role: SpongeBob SquarePants in the national tour of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL.

Hometown: Scranton, Pennsylvania

Kyle Christopher West: Thanks for chatting with me today. Let's start by talking about your early life, and what led you to the performing arts.

Lorenzo Pugliese: For all of my childhood, I basically wanted to be a baseball player; I wanted to be an athlete, and I played a lot of sports. My dad made me take piano lessons (that I did not want to take), and my piano teacher talked to me about joining a production of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL that he was playing piano for at a local children's community theatre. I said yes, and I got the lead role. When I performed for the first time in front of people, I just knew I that [performing] was going to be a big part of my life.

Kyle: And with your national tour debut, SpongeBob is an incredible role to kick off your professional career.

Lorenzo: Yeah!

Kyle: Tell me about the audition room for THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL. Was it different than your standard song-and-dance style audition?

BWW Interview: Lorenzo Pugliese of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL at Bass HallLorenzo: Yeah, I mean, the audition process was pretty cool. So many people showed up to the open call, and then I had about 8 or 9 callbacks after that, I think. It was really cool because I got to work with Tina Landau, which in and of itself was kind of a dream come true. There was a lot of improv and movement they asked us to do. It was definitely the hardest set of auditions I've ever had to do.

Kyle: What was the process like in both humanizing SpongeBob as a fully fleshed character and matching the spirit of the famous cartoon character?

Lorenzo: It was super challenging, bringing such an iconic character to life. It's also super hard to bring that character that everyone knows to the stage, live and in person, and also make it identifiable and relatable. I think there's definitely more of an element of relatability when you're on stage. [Director Tine Landau] was very adamant about making all of the characters very human, and I think that's part of the genius of the production. She was very cool about actors kind of having free range to just try out whatever they want. Of course, the show is the same [as directed on Broadway], but there are certain [moments] that we, as actors, came up with. If Tina liked it, she would throw it in the show. It was super cool to kind of have this hybrid of working on this show from Broadway that I was a super-fan of, but also having my own artistic input.

Kyle: Everything onstage in THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is larger than life. What are some of the most challenging moments to perform each night?

Lorenzo: [Laughs] There's quite a few! I would say the physicality of the role is something that is just completely unparalleled by any other show I've ever done. It's so specific and quick and crisp. But the thing about it, like I've said before, is it has to be human and relatable. Finding that balance every night for 2-and-a-half hours is something that I am constantly working on; it's never finished.

Kyle: And the score is written by A-listers of the music industry like John Legend, Aerosmith, Panic! At The Disco, and Sara Bareilles. Do you have a favorite song in the show?

Lorenzo: When I saw the show on Broadway, I really, really loved "I'm Not a Loser" [written by They Might Be Giants]. I think that's just a perfectly crafted Golden Age musical theatre number, and it's also just a fun song to listen to. My favorite song in the show now, I guess, would be "I Guess I Miss You" [written by John Legend]. It's just a really beautiful ballad between Patrick and SpongeBob. It's the one time in the show I'm not running around; I just get to sit and sing [laughs]. And of course, Brendon Urie is awesome, so the fact that he wrote one of the songs in the show ["Just A Simple Sponge"] is just super cool!

Kyle: The show also has a great message about community. What do you hope audiences take away from the theatre each night?

Lorenzo: I would say it's just the power of optimism and the idea that if you believe in yourself, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

Kyle: Well, thank you so much for your time today. We look forward to seeing you in Fort Worth soon!

Lorenzo: Awesome, awesome. Thank you so much!

Nickelodeon's THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL arrives at Fort Worth's Bass Hall on Thursday, February 20, and includes five performances through Sunday, February 23. Tickets start at only $44 and can be purchased at


From Datebook:

‘The SpongeBob Musical,’ fluid and subversive, is more than kid stuff

Tina Landau originally didn’t want to direct “The SpongeBob Musical.”

“When I first got asked about pitching for the show, I declined,” says Landau. “All that came to my mind were big arena shows with actors in large prosthetics and puppet heads.”

The director is referring to the talking starfish, scuba-diving squirrels and pineapple housing in the depths of the ocean that define the popular Nickelodeon cartoon “SpongeBob Squarepants” and the surreal setting of Bikini Bottom. Landau had no desire to oversee a verbatim re-creation of the lovable, slightly eccentric animated series created by the late Stephen Hillenburg. It turns out, neither did he.

“When my agent said to me, Steve Hillenburg is only interested in doing the musical if it can be done in the ‘indie spirit’ in which he conceived of the whole thing I said, ‘That’s interesting.’ ”

With the right outlook and the right collaborators, including production designer David Zinn, the possibilities for the stage show became bigger than just what was on the small screen. Another factor that made her say yes to the project was falling in love with SpongeBob’s optimistic energy and spirit.

“I definitely have a little SpongeBob in me,” says Landau. “I felt his sense of innocence and play and wonder was really contagious.”

“The SpongeBob Musical” comes to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theater, from Wednesday, Feb. 12, to Sunday, Feb. 16, after an acclaimed run on Broadway that began in 2017. The show features a book by writer-musician Kyle Jarrow with original songs by pop artists including Cyndi Lauper and Sara Bareilles and bands like Panic at the Disco and Lady Antebellum. The cartoon debuted on Nickelodeon in 1999 and follows the deep-sea adventures of the title character: an anthropomorphic sponge with an unrelentingly positive outlook and sunny yellow complexion.

The television series found an easy audience with children and also gained many adult fans with its quirky animation style and grown-up wordplay. The “SpongeBob” universe has also served as a kind of vessel for helping contextualize contemporary issues, including same-sex relationships, environmental concerns and movements for diversity and inclusion, interpreted through the show’s characters and story lines. It was that fluidity and possibility for expansion that lured both Landau and Zinn to the project. Still, the musical has had an uphill battle finding its fan base.

In spite of that, Landau believes that at its core, the show is built to last. One of the key moments in the creative process for Landau was when she first heard John Legend’s song “(I Guess) I Miss You.”

“I realized very deeply the songs work,” Landau says. “They’re specific … to the story, these amazing songwriters actually did this. It was a magic moment.”

After extensive workshops and a trial run in Chicago, the show ran for almost a year on Broadway and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, with Zinn taking home the prize for best scenic design. But in spite of the positive reviews and award recognition (including a Drama Desk Award for Landau’s direction) the show did not recoup its investment.

Landau says that from the earliest workshops of the show, it had to fight audience preconceptions “that this was a show for toddlers.”

“What we tried to do and are still trying to do is educate potential audiences that this is something else, a more creative, adult and subversive spin than one might expect,” Landau says.

In spite of the early closing, the show has been given renewed life with the tour, a cast album and a 2019 filmed version that aired on Nickelodeon.

“Our lesson from Broadway was that people had a hard time wrapping their brain around what the show is,” Zinn says. “No one believed us when we said, ‘It’s super fun; it’s for every age.’ For people who know it as a cartoon and don’t understand what we’ve done, it has been a weirder and more complicated sell than it should be.”

But audience misconceptions of the show and its cartoon inspiration have in some ways helped it find its artistic voice.

“There was freedom from the beginning to have our own rules,” Zinn says. “When you adapt a movie which involves real people and real locations, you have those people and locations to either haunt you or inspire you. As a cartoon, we had to have another way in.”

Like Landau, Zinn wasn’t interested in literally translating the cartoon’s aesthetic; instead he referenced styles that were in conversation with the visual language of the cartoon. Nods to Dadaism appear throughout the show (notably with pink picnic umbrellas transformed into jellyfish) as does a certain “do-it-yourself” ethos that gives a homemade feel to some sets and costume pieces, including a surfboard band shell and an extravagantly crocheted cape worn by SpongeBob’s best friend, Patrick Star (a starfish), that recalls the kind of afghan your grandmother might have made.

Even with such inspirations as a starting point, Zinn realized that with the show’s three main characters — SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy Cheeks (a squirrel) — less was more.

“They’re our sort of emotional way into the story and the most human,” Zinn says. “Because their emotional life is more developed in the series and people know them, we had a freedom to go further away from the original character design.”

Ideas like framing SpongeBob with a square headpiece and making Patrick’s body more starfish-pointed were abandoned early. While color palettes specific to the characters from the cartoon are referenced in the costumes (bright yellow and brown for SpongeBob, pink and acid green for Patrick) it’s mostly the actor’s performances that convey the characters.

While the costumes will mostly carry over from Broadway to the tour, aspects of the sets have been scaled back for travel. Landau says that although the design was among the most lauded aspects of the musical, seeing it pared down has proved to her that the show’s music, characters and book hold up on their own.

The current tour isn’t the only thing giving the show a second chance at a bigger pop culture life: Landau says a licensing deal is currently being negotiated that will allow community theater groups and schools to mount their own versions of the show. The DIY spirit of the piece easily lends itself to all kinds of smaller, perhaps even quirkier interpretations of the material, say Zinn and Landau: Many of the current production elements could probably be sourced from a town’s local Target, including the pool noodles that become props and set pieces through the show.

“I think there’d be nothing more wonderful and gratifying than to see this show done by all types of groups in all types of ways,” Landau says.

For Zinn, there’s an episode of the “SpongeBob” cartoon series that speaks to his philosophy of future productions: Patrick and SpongeBob order a television, take it out of thebox, then spend the episode playing with the box, ignoring the television. He sees the show as that cardboard box, something that can be endlessly reimagined.

“It’s fun to see people take an idea you helped birth and reinterpret it,” Zinn says. “I hope drag queens do the show drunk out of their mind at 3 a.m. I hope high school kids do it. I hope fifth-graders do it with a cardboard box and some construction paper. The music is great, the characters are great, there’s a tap-dance number — what else do you need?”

“The SpongeBob Musical”: 1:30 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Saturday, Feb. 15; 7 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Feb. 13-14; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16. $56-$266. Golden Gate Theatre. 888-746-1799.


From CBS4 Denver:

From Cartoon To Stage Production, ‘The SpongeBob Musical’ Aims To Delight Denver Audiences

DENVER (CBS4) – The Nickelodeon animated series “SpongeBob Squarepants” comes to life in a musical of Broadway proportions. “The SpongeBob Musical” plays at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts from March 10 – 22, 2020.

LINK: For Tickets & Information for “The SpongeBob Musical”

What can you expect when an animated series come to life in a Broadway musical? A lot of brightly colored costumes and sets; characters that an entire generation know and love; and the humor and heart that made the animated series popular around the world. What you might not expect is a show that was nominated for twelve Tony awards in 2018.

“It’s got a moral that everyone can get behind, whether you’re a fan of the show, or a young kid growing up who’s watched it, or you’ve never seen the TV show is your life. There’s something for everyone. The music is by this long roster of famous people,” said Zach Kononov, who plays “Mr. Crab.”

The music is by a long roster of famous people, including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, T. I., John Legend, Lady Antebellum, and Cyndi Lauper. The book was written by Kyle Jarrow, and the stage production was co-created and directed by Tina Landau.

“I think, the show is truly for everyone. The kids some in – they love the colors. They love the costumes. They love the characters that they know and love. But the adults identify with the characters themselves,” said Cody Cooley, who plays “Squidward.”

In “The SpongeBob Musical,” SpongeBob Squarepants is faced with the epic destruction of his home, Bikini Bottom. He and his friends must come together to save the day. It’s the kind of fully formed fun that should please kids of all ages.

“One day a few week ago, we had someone, I would say he was between the age of 75 and 80 years old, and he was dressed head to toe in SpongeBob attire,” said Beau Bradshaw with a smile. He plays “Patrick Star.”



Review: The SpongeBob Musical | Performing Arts Fort Worth | Bass Performance Hall

Now Sea Here

At Bass Performance Hall on the Performing Arts Fort Worth season, The SpongeBob Musical is delightfully clever.

Fort Worth — Somebody should pass out sunglasses for The SpongeBob Musical, the Day-Glo show about small joys and big trouble in the tiny undersea town of Bikini Bottom. Presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth at Bass Performance Hall, this is great goofy fun for fans who sailed with the original Nickelodeon animated series, little folks who’ve just come on board — and grownups who thought they were only along for the ride.

SpongeBob was something of a surprise hit on Broadway in 2017, with plenty of the credit going to clever director Tina Landau, who conceived a “kids” musical that’s not just for kids, a show with A-level songs, choreography, tech artistry, and humor to catch audiences of all ages, hook, line and sinker. Landau and music director Patrick Hoagland brought off a genius idea: ask big-name songwriters from many genres to contribute a song. There are tunes from John Legend, T.I., Cyndi Lauper with Rob Hyman, Sara Bareilles, Yolanda Adams, They Might Be Giants, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Plain White T’s, Panic! At the Disco, Lady Antebellum, Jonathan Coulton and others.

Writer and musician Kyle Jarrow’s script (volcano threatens Bikini Bottom; WHO will save us?) has the just-right cartoony outline, but fills it in with heart and some worth-thinking-about notions on friendship, courage, and overcoming differences in tough times.

As the sunny yellow fellow himself, Lorenzo Pugliese gets waves of love from the audience. He’s the perfect SpongeBob, high-energy and optimistic; every day is “The Best Day Ever,” whether he’s hanging with pet snail Gary, chasing a promotion at the Krusty Krab, or saving Bikini Bottom from Mt. Humongous, the recently rumbly neighborhood volcano. Sure, he has some esteem issues that get him down, but it never lasts for long. SpongeBob sings and dances, flips and flops, and (oh, you knew he would) saves his world. Pretty good for a “simple sponge” (or is he?) who really shouldn’t have all those body parts.

Beau Bradshaw wins hearts as Patrick Star, SpongeBob’s big pink buddy. He and Pugliese fill the hall with a duet of Plain White T’s uplifting “BFF,” and Patrick stays true to their friendship, even when some passing fish make him their guru. Gospel singer/songwriter Adams comes up with the delightful church-choir rave “Super Sea Star Savior” (“Oh Pink One, you are everything”), sung and danced by the super-syncopated Sardine Corps…with church fans, yet.

Daria Pilar Redus is Sandy Cheeks, the science-minded Texas girl squirrel who’s living experimentally under the sea. “What in chicken-fried tarnation was that?” she wonders, as the volcano rattles and rolls. Sandy’s signature bubble helmet (remember, she’s a land mammal who needs air!) is assumed to be there, following the graceful curve of her afro. The clever, color-saturated costumes by designer David Zinn give a humanized “impression” of characters; no full-on animal suits allowed.

Cody Cooley’s cranky octopus neighbor Squidward, in fact, looks like he’s dressed for golf, until we notice he has four legs. He’s a downbeat guy with a yen for showbiz, and Cooley turns out to be quite the quad-legged tap dancer in “I’m Not a Loser,” written by They Might Be Giants. Squidward’s squelching walk across the stage is one of the show’s many LOL sound effects, many of them done live onstage by the Foley Fish, aka the talented Ryan Blihovde. Foley design is by Mike Dobson and sound design by Walter Trarbach — and taken together, their work on split-second timing, keeping sounds in sync with actors, projections, lava balls and much more, is simply uh-mazing.

Zach Kononov’s Mr. Krabs is the money-grubbing owner of the Krusty Krab diner. He’s kitted out in red crab-claw boxing gloves, and doesn’t see “manager material” in SpongeBob, his underpaid fry cook. Both Kononov and Méami Maszewski, playing Krabs’ whale daughter Pearl, do a great job with their duet “Daddy Knows Best,” written by Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Tristan McIntyre’s Plankton is a hoot as the plot’s laughably bad-at-it bad guy, seated like a Bond villain to impress his robot wife Karen the Computer (Caitlin Ort). Perhaps distracted by their oddball romance, these two never seem to get much for all their scheming and bwaa-ha-ha-ing. Morgan Blanchard is righteous as SpongeBob fan Patchy the Pirate, making the case for “Po-arrr Pirates” everywhere. Richie Dupkin is cute as scared-spitless news guy Perch Perkins, reporting the coming apocalypse; and Helen Regula is stately, and then scary, as the Mayor who gets a little bit, um, authoritarian in the crisis.

SpongeBob the Musical starts gentle, with a pre-show jam (think ukes, bongos and kazoos) led by cast members and musicians. Things crank up quickly, though, for numbers that showcase the many styles of the orchestra under conductor Patrick Hoagland and associate Cameron Tragesser. Christopher Gattelli’s terrific choreography just keeps going, and the cast’s hard work shows, both in solo spots and a string of hilariously elaborate ensemble pieces.

Peter Negrini’s projections, from parades of sea life to ticking doom clocks to enormous volcanos, are beyond imaginative—and often funny too. And with David Zinn’s bright, beachy set (like a giant Tiki Room full of re-purposed pool toys) and Kevin Adams’ lights added in, Bikini Bottom comes to noisy, lit-up life, like a Mardi Gras party with fish.

“Good morning, world, and all who inhabit it!” And Gary the Snail (rolling on what seems to be a skateboard) comes by to greet him: “Meow.” If you can’t squeeze some silly, sweet fun out of The SpongeBob Musical, somebody had better check your pulse. My companion for the opening-night show sat silent and poker-faced for the whole first number. When it finished, she looked at me and said: “Oh, wow!”

And started to dance in her seat.

» There are two more chances on Sunday, Feb. 23 to see the show (1:30 and 6:30 p.m.); and it also plays in July at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. Thanks For Reading


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Originally published: Wednesday, August 21, 2019.

Original sources: Playbill, Broadway World.

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