The SpongeBob Musical
Rating: ★★★
Venue: Southbank Centre, London
Cast: Tom Read Wilson, Divina de Campo, Lewis Cornay, Chrissie Bhima, Sarah Freer, Irfan Damani and Richard J Hunt 

When the citizens of Bikini Bottom discover that a volcano will soon erupt and destroy their humble home, SpongeBob and his friends must come together to save the fate of their undersea world!

Starring Tom Read Wilson and Ru-Paul’s Drag Race legend Divina De Campo, this musical is based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg, is written by Kyle Jarrow and conceived by Tina Landau and features a tidal wave of original songs by the world’s most iconic rock and pop artists.

SpongeBob has been a much loved show of mine since childhood, and little makes me laugh as much as the household favourite that is SpongeBob SquarePants. However, I was unsure whether it would translate well on stage. Despite having some great promise in moments, I left the show feeling somewhat deflated.

The story follows SpongeBob and his friends in the town of Bikini Bottom. The infamous Mount Humongous is about to explode and it goes without saying that Plankton is scheming in the background; and is set to take over with a new town, Chumville. However, it's down to our unconventional hero to save the day. The story is quite weak, and I felt as though the writing was odd, with cults, mobs and politicians not the usual scenes we're used to seeing in an episode of SpongeBob. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that if the character's didn't have the names of the 1999 classic, you'd struggle to find the connections to SpongeBob at all.

The material that stuck closest to the character's personality traits and storylines that we know and love were the pieces that worked best. From Gary's "meow", to Squidward's clarinet playing and SpongeBob's, "2 hours later", there were some really enjoyable and comedic moments throughout; but I found them few and far between.

The entire cast are without a doubt exceptionally talented. In terms of vocal talent, Sarah Freer as Pearl was an absolute powerhouse who wowed the audience with every note she sung. However, the highlights were Cornay and de Campo's performances as SpongeBob and Plankton. De Campo simply stole the show for me and their performance was captivating, dramatic, and outlandishly brilliant.

While I found the songs not particularly memorable, there were some standout numbers from me including "Just a Simple Sponge" and "Bikini Bottom Boogie" (I wish the Electric Skates had a few more songs, as they were fantastic!). However, thanks to Fabian Aloise's bold and daring choreography, the tap number from Squidward, "I'm Not a Loser", and the fever dream-esque, "When the Going Gets Tough" from Plankton are the highlights of the musical

The set design from Steve Howell did a great job at transporting you to Bikini Bottom and the statement costumes from Sarah Mercade were fun, loud and adventurous; everything you'd expect from the world of SpongeBob. The bubbles near the end of the show were extremely effective and gave us all a sense of childlike awe.

While it won't be a show I'll be visiting again, it was a lot of fun, but just didn't quite reach the heights I was hoping for. If you're looking for a light-hearted show with not much depth, but with a brilliant cast, then the SpongeBob Musical is the show for you! 

You can buy tickets to The SpongeBob Musical on it's UK tour, here.

Photo credit: Mark Senior

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