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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

An upbeat and catchy ‘SpongeBob Musical’ from Silhouette Phases

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Who lives in a what, beneath the what? When you don’t know already, it’s pineapple, sea, and the reply is SpongeBob SquarePants — and by the way in which, the place’ve you been?

Full disclosure: I by no means watched SpongeBob SquarePants. As cartoons go, SpongeBob, a collage of loud noises, goofy characters, exaggerated actions, and normal ridiculousness, isn’t actually my type — I’m extra a Bugs Bunny or Rugrats kind. If my children had watched SpongeBob, I would’ve seen a number of episodes, however we’ve by no means had cable TV.

In mild of that, I did NOT anticipate to love The SpongeBob Musical. To my shock, I favored the present loads the primary time I noticed it, and  I used to be happy to see it once more, this time carried out by Silhouette Phases at Slayton Home in Columbia. The manufacturing is offered by a nonprofit group theater firm, constructed on the again of affection and volunteer hours, staged at a multi-use group middle.

Matt Wetzel as SpongeBob and his refrain of sponges in ‘The SpongeBob Musical.’ Photograph by Stasia Steuart Pictures.

I favored this manufacturing even higher than the primary I noticed. Sure, you learn that proper: even higher. The forged demonstrates exuberance of spirit, the on-stage orchestra is excellent, and the foley (sound results) performer, Arielle Miller, demonstrates sensible timing and has snappy moments of interplay with forged members. The SpongeBob Musical is filled with candy-colored positivity and bodily humor and options songs written by an array of A-list artists, together with a number of private favorites of mine.

Since I’d by no means watched any SpongeBob cartoons, there are issues that puzzled me in regards to the present: an underwater squirrel apparently wears an invisible, implied diving helmet. The villain is a tiny single-celled organism performed by a full-sized human. The crab’s daughter is a whale in a cheerleader outfit, and there’s apparently a probably darkish backstory about that which isn’t within the present and anyway doesn’t matter to the story.

Co-directors Debbie Mobley and Robyn Yakaitis, each frequent actors, have a imaginative and prescient of immersive staging, a multi-generational forged, full of life motion and dance, and loads of bodily comedy. Their interactions in the beginning of the present corralling a rogue character are clean, and their directorial selections are sound.

TOP: Seth Fallon as Squidward and his sea anemone refrain line; ABOVE: Geraden Ward as Patrick and his sardine followers in ‘The SpongeBob Musical.’ Photographs by Stasia Steuart Pictures.

The set, designed by Invoice Pond, consists of arrays of undersea flora, a display screen with projected cartoon surroundings conceived by Todd Hochkeppel as a backdrop, and modular cell items for the remaining. The main target is on the forged, who’re merely stellar.

With a whopping ten forged members working with Silhouette Phases for his or her first time, one might assume they mightn’t kind a cohesive unit as an ensemble, and one can be incorrect. Veteran performers mingle brilliantly with highschool theater children, latest school graduates, and people returning to efficiency after a short or prolonged hiatus. A wide range of human shapes, ethnicities, and gender expressions are represented… however they’re uniformly dedicated to the juicy cartoon aesthetic and ecstatic spirit of the present.

Our story requires an upbeat, enthusiastic primary character actor to play SpongeBob. It’s the intensely humorous Matt Wetzel who additionally wants a unbelievable singing voice, for the reason that title character carries two-thirds of the musical numbers. Wetzel’s voice suits the invoice completely. As robust as he’s on his personal, I loved Wetzel’s duets much more. He has two with Geraden Ward, who performs Patrick the Sea Star, SpongeBob’s greatest pal, with a mild acceptance of his mental limitations: “BFF” (Plain White T’s) and “(I Guess I) Miss You” (John Legend). Later in Act II, in “Chop to the Prime” (Girl A), Wetzel combines his vocal expertise with that of Summer season Daybreak Moore, who performs Sandy Cheeks, the ingenious underwater squirrel, in her debut with Silhouette Phases. Ensemble member and Choreographer Tori Value produces full of life, lyric-driven motion in “BFF,” and Music Director Mari Hill leads Matt Wetzel and Geraden Ward in some extremely satisfying harmonies in “(I Guess I) Miss You.”

Different exceptional vocal numbers within the present embody “No Management” (David Bowie and Brian Eno), that includes the very wonderful Mica Weiss as Perch Perkins, which is shadowy, foreboding, and stuffed with doom, a testomony to the excellent work of Lighting Designer TJ Lukacsina; one other duet, “Daddy Is aware of Finest” (Alex Ebert), is an influence wrestle between Mr. Krabs, performed with scuttley avarice by Robert Howard, and his daughter Pearl Krabs, performed by Oakland Mills Excessive College scholar Leah Freeman — and boy does that younger woman have a set of pipes. Squidward Q. Tentacles, performed in a special route by Seth Fallon, will get his personal quantity, “I’m Not a Loser” (They May Be Giants), accompanied by some pleasant shock backup singers. The lyrics are terrific, Seth Fallon’s supply is terrific, and the motion/dancing is good. One standout quantity, “(Simply A) Easy Sponge,” options blacklights and backup dancers: Choreographer Tory Value’s staging of the visuals is actually splendid.

The Ensemble of ‘The SpongeBob Musical.’ Photograph by Stasia Steuart Pictures.

I finished taking notes for the ultimate portion of the present. As an alternative I leaned ahead to take pleasure in it, buzzing alongside to “Finest Day Ever” (Andy Paley and Tom Kenny), which is the title of a tune in a SpongeBob episode, the title of a SpongeBob episode (season 4), the ultimate credit tune within the 2004 SpongeBob film, the title of the film’s soundtrack album, and a web based recreation that appears cute, however I’m evidently horrible at that kind of recreation.

Mica Weiss, who designed costumes for the present in addition to portraying Perch Perkins, delivers splendid underwater put on for every of the forged members: The Mayor (performed by Debbie Watts) seems mayoral, Outdated Man Jenkins (performed by John Sheldon) seems like previous man Jenkins, the pirates are piratical, and every of the outfits of the Ensemble provides to the visible depth of the manufacturing.

I’d wish to reiterate that even a nonfan of SpongeBob can take pleasure in The SpongeBob Musical. When you’re a fan of completely happy, colourful, upbeat, catchy, enthusiastic leisure, do your spirits a favor and catch this Finest Play Ever whilst you can.

The Spongebob Musical performs by October 22, 2023, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 3:00 PM, offered by Silhouette Phases acting at Slayton Home within the Wilde Lake Village Heart, 10400 Cross Fox Lane Columbia, MD. Buy tickets ($15–$24) on-line. For extra info, name 410-216-4499 or e mail information@silhouettestages.com

COVID Security: Masks are extremely inspired however not required. The theater’s full COVID Security Plan coverage is right here.

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