NASH makes a splash with The SpongeBob Musical

A childhood TV favorite comes to life on stage in a sensational production.

Olivia Shubak, Staff Writer

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of previewing of The SpongeBob Musical, and as the production leaps into full swing, with performances tonight through Sunday, I suggest you catch a show. 

With the spotlight on Kiran Szymkowiak as SpongeBob SquarePants, the production features a number of dynamic character roles and intriguing subplots. While SpongeBob struggles under the weight of being labeled a “simple sponge,” he seeks to establish himself as an individual capable of one day managing the Krusty Krab.

More serious trouble presents itself when Bikini Bottom, and all its inhabitants, must confront the impending eruption of the volcano Mt. Humongous, which threatens to destroy their home. In the midst of the crisis, SpongeBob and Patrick, played by Brendan White, face trials of their own. However, even in the throes of friendship, they are able to overcome these challenges and save Bikini Bottom together. Of course, they do so with the help of their clever friend Sandy, an underwater squirrel played by Cate Maldia. 

Based on the animated series that appeared on Nickelodeon during the years of our childhood, director Tommy Novak brought the cartoon to Broadway in 2017. 

Unlike other high school productions, NA’s production of The SpongeBob Musical stays true to many elements from the Broadway production, such as the quintessential French narrator, played by Olivia Parsons, and less noticeable details, too, such as sound design, lighting, and graphics. 

At several junctures in the show, the cast engages with the audience, adding fun and excitement to the musical.

While the plot may be better suited for younger audiences, the quality of the production can certainly be appreciated by all. The twisting currents of the plot’s direction are enjoyable, and the music, dancing, and visuals are both entertaining and impressive to watch.

The dance sequences, choreographed by Andrea Jaecks, are clean and well practiced. Particularly impressive is the routine to the piece  “(Just a) Simple Sponge,” which has the members of the cast holding luminescent sponges against a dark background, allowing them to create different images.

The skilled student orchestra elevates the soundtrack to a seemingly professional level and sounds refreshing in comparison to an artificial recording. It also helps to amplify suspense at points of anticipation or exhilaration. 

Part of the delight of watching the performance is the tropical-inspired scenery that provides the perfect setting for the performance to take place. The props display the creativity and effort put into the production, with strung-up neon lights, “coral” made of pool noodles, and mesmerizing jellyfish umbrellas.

The nautical decor incorporates a real ship, donated by the Opiela family and located on the right side of the stage. Stationed in the S.S. SpongeBob is NAI sophomore Charlie Palmer, the sound artist who manages a wide assortment of Foley sounds. Although a seemingly minute component of the musical, the sounds are impeccably timed and add to the overall comedic timing of moments during the show. As Director Mr. Schmiech said, “You could see the show a second time just to watch Charlie.  He’s that good.”

Each unique look complements the corresponding character’s traits and accentuates the other visual elements of the show.”

Another appealing visual aspect of the musical is the array of performers’ eye-catching, splashy outfits. The costumes come in a variety of vibrant colors and fun patterns. Each unique look complements the corresponding character’s traits and accentuates the other visual elements of the show. A superb example is Olivia Kaufman as Karen the Computer in her appropriately metallic getup, and her prop computer screen, which is a spectacular addition. In fact, Megan Ochs, the show’s Costume/Props Coordinator and NA alum who participated in numerous shows on the NASH stage when she was a student, was assisted by the original Broadway productions costume designer.  For a better look at the attire, check out “Under the Sea” by Libby Heckert, a writer for The Uproar and a Dance Captain for the production. 

The credit goes to all participating students — from the cast to the orchestra to the crew — and to the musical directors for one of NA’s finest and definitely most energetic and colorful shows.  It’s a performance you surely will not want to miss.