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Review -­ The Spongebob Musical: the feel good show for all

By Liv Wilson

The Spongebob Musical

Based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg

Book by Kyle Jarrow

Director Benjamin Tubb-Hearne

Musical Director Hayley Marsh

Choreographer Julianne Clinch

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, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White

T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I.

And Songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny & Andy Paley

Additional Lyrics by Jonathan Coulton

Additional Music by Tom Kitt

The season runs until August 27th at Beenleigh, tickets can be purchased here

The stakes are higher than ever in this dynamic stage musical, as SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face the total annihilation of their undersea world. Chaos erupts. Lives hang in the balance. And just when all hope seems lost, a most unexpected hero rises up and takes centre stage. The power of optimism really can save the world!

Phoenix Ensemble transported us into the depths of Bikini Bottom in their opening night of The SpongeBob Musical. If, like me, you were nervous to see how this iconic and well-loved cartoon could be pulled off as a musical, I encourage you to book tickets now to see this outstanding show. It will blow your bikinis off! Whether you’re a youngster looking for laughs or a grown-up who needs a break from the ‘serious stuff’, this feel-good show will suit the whole family!

Every element of the show was done with the utmost care, charisma and creativity. Director Benjamin Tubb-Hearne did a marvellous job with casting and developing an experience that was both entertaining and high quality. For a musical that has a lot of moving pieces the creative team have done a wonderful job of creating moments of stillness to allow the audience to pause and take in the storyline (something that many independent theatre companies don’t indulge in).

When I heard that the Tin Shed was putting on a musicaI as large as The SpongeBob Musical I was interested to see how the intimate space would hold up against a show with such a big cast and traditionally heavy use of props/set pieces. The Phoenix team executed everything I was curious about to perfection and did so in a way that quickly made me feel part of the underwater action.

Clark Kent Byron-Moss as SpongeBob Squarepants is one of the best things to happen to the Brisbane theatre scene. The way he embodied the hyperactive cartoon character was masterful and his physicality was, again, some of the best I’ve seen in Brisbane. His physicality was light, bouncy and absorbent of all the supporting character’s energy. I was pleased to see many of the classic SpongeBob nuances and over-the-top-cartoon actions were honoured through Tubb-Hearne’s direction and were executed perfectly by Clark.

Vocally Byron-Moss was pitch perfect and the character’s optimism shone through nicely in his performance in song and speech. Clark’s chemistry with the other lead characters, especially Patrick Star and Squidward, was one of the great storytelling components that captured SpongeBob’s naive and lovable nature so well.

Harley Roy as Patrick Star was simply outstanding. The vocal presence, physicality and fun-loving silliness Roy brought to the role was spot on. Harley shone in the Super Sea Star Saviour scenes and vocally brought a lot to the table in the various duets with Byron-Moss. Roy had a strong character voice and exceptional comedic timing.

All true fans know that SpongeBob and Patrick are only one of the iconic duos of Bikini Bottom…Evil “genius” Plankton and his computer wife Karen are the cherry on top and round out the cast perfectly!

Joshua Moore was already on my list of ‘Brisbane’s Best Character Actors’ but seeing him as Plankton pushed him right to the top! When The Going Gets Tough was an Act 1 crowd favourite and a fun break from the overly optimistic numbers led by SpongeBob. The choreography, direction, lighting and performance were all sharp and clearly well rehearsed. Moore’s physicality and theatrical choices were hilarious and perfect for the insecure, yet evil, character. Moore was totally immersed in the thoughts and feelings of Plankton which made him one of the actors I found myself looking at in every scene!

Kristen Barros as Karen the Computer was another fabulous casting choice. Barros captured the scheming sass and analytical nature of Karen very well and was an amazing choice to partner Moore with. The chemistry and obvious fun the two performers were having together was wonderful to see and they had the audience responding with fits of laughter all night long.

Ebony Banks as Sandy Cheeks and Zach Price as Squidward Q. Tentacles were equally fantastic in their roles! Vocally they stole the show several times and their characterisation of the quirky creatures was done very well. Bank’s Southern accent was fantastic and came through just the right amount in her songs. She was a standout in Chop To The Top and Hero Is My Middle name both in vocals and character acting. Price led one of my personal favourite numbers of the night, I’m Not A Loser, the tap-tastic shining moment of stardom in Squidward’s character arc. Price’s dancing was strong and charismatic, he was a crowd favourite and a perfect choice for the character.

Tristan Ham and Genevieve Tree as Mr Krabs and Pearl Krabs were a perfect pair and wildly entertaining. Their back and forth banter were some of the funniest moments in the show and their embodiment of the larger than life characters were done exceptionally well without being too over the top. Tree’s vocals were unmatched and Ham’s comedic timing was sensational. The two performers were great in Daddy Knows Best which showcased their extensive musical training and professionalism.

The set and costumes by Justin Tubb-Hearne are on par with the original Broadway designs and aided in the storytelling beautifully. I was impressed with the quality of the ensemble's costumes and participation throughout the show. Oftentimes the ensemble were playing upwards of 3 characters by supporting the larger dance numbers and incredible harmonies.

The props, sound effect and overall musical direction were very sharp and should act as a reminder to all local theatre companies to think outside of the box more often with their adaptations of shows.

A shout-out to the sound operator Jacob Cash for timing all of the character sound effects perfectly. These elements were what made the show so entertaining and helped to tell the story in a way that paid homage to the Nickelodeon show.

I can’t say that I’ve left a theatre smiling as much as I did when I left the Tin Shed after seeing The SpongeBob Musical. The laughter and complete audience immersion they created is a testament to the talented production team, cast and crew.

The season runs until August 27th at Beenleigh, tickets can be purchased here


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