Story by Blake Holliday / Contributing Writer
After having a successful children’s television series and two major motion pictures, SpongeBob Squarepants is finally making his way to Broadway with a new musical.
On Friday, the original cast recording for “SpongeBob Squarepants, the New Musical” was released to much anticipation after its successful run in Chicago and upcoming move to Broadway in November.
The album is completely made up of original songs by popular and established artists, such as John Legend, Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Plain White T’s, Lady Antebellum, The Flaming Lips, Panic! At the Disco, T.I., Cyndi Lauper and more. Along with the original music, the show includes a new rendition of the song “No Control” by David Bowie and Brian Eno.
The plot follows SpongeBob and the gang as they try to save Bikini Bottom from destruction by an eminent volcano eruption. Although the storyline is intriguing and comical, it’s safe to say understanding it is not necessary to enjoy the album.
Even though the star-studded lineup of composers is intriguing enough to spark an interest, having Broadway veteran Tom Kitt as musical supervisor helps seal the deal. Kitt is a composer and musician best known for his work on musicals like “Bring it On: the Musical,” “If/Then” and the Tony Award-winning “Next to Normal.” Kitt was able to take songs from various composers and musical genres and unify them into a solid, Broadway-worthy score.
Although the album is an exciting and hilarious experience as a whole, there are multiple standout moments. The show opens with a short prologue and transitions into the song “Bikini Bottom Day” by Jonathan Coulton; this number is excellent in setting the tone of what’s to follow, and it also gives listeners an opportunity to meet the musical theatre versions of the characters they know and love.
As the story progresses, we arrive at the song “(Just a) Simple Sponge,” written by Panic! At the Disco’s frontman Brendon Urie. This song is an energetic rock ballad that shows SpongeBob trying to prove himself by relaying his plan to save the town. You can definitely hear how Urie’s rock influence cleverly integrates the Broadway showstopper.
Along with rock ‘n’ roll, some of the show’s other genres include Hip-Hop, Country, R&B and even Gospel. For example, there is a Hip-Hop number in T.I.’s “When the Going Gets Tough” where Plankton lays out his dubious scheme to abandon the town. Then with the song “Super Sea Star Savior,” Yolanda Adams creates an entertaining and lively gospel number for SpongeBob’s best friend, Patrick Star, that describes him as the town’s only hope for survival.
After all of this new content, the last two standout moments are remakes of classic songs from the television series. Near the end of the album, the show gives us a throwback with the song “Best Day Ever,” which is arranged by Andy Paley and Tom Kenny and has been remastered into a uproarious yet bittersweet ensemble number. The album comes to a close with a raucous rendition of the cartoon’s original theme song, which is a great, nostalgic way to end the cast recording.
So whether you’re new to Broadway musicals or you just can’t get enough of the yellow sponge, “SpongeBob Squarepants, the New Musical” is one solid, entertaining piece of musical theatre for all to enjoy.
The original cast recording is now available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon and is streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Amazon Music.
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