Reviews are coming in for the UK premiere production of The SpongeBob Musical based on the much- loved SpongeBob SquarePants TV series.
The show ran on Broadway (bagging 12 Tony nominations), and now finally makes its way to the UK on a big tour, including a summer residency at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre for 5 weeks from 26 July to 26 August 2023.
Directed by Tara Overfield Wilkinson, the cast features Lewis Cornay as SpongeBob, Tom Read Wilson as Squidward at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, plus Divina de Campo as Sheldon J. Plankton, Irfan Damani as Patrick and Chrissie Bhima as Sandy. Gareth Gates is playing Squidward at selected venues, not including London.
Also in the cast are Richard J Hunt as Mr Krabs, Sarah Freer as Pearl, Eloise Davies as Mrs Puff,Hannah Lowther as Karen, Rebecca Lisewski as Mayor, plus Sam Beveridge Jeremiah Olaleye, Eleanor Turiansky, Rhys Batten and Reece Kerridge.
The show is based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg, with a book by Kyle Jarrow and 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 A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and T.I.
It also features songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley. Additional lyrics are by Jonathan Coulton, additional music by Tom Kitt, and the musical production is conceived by Tina Landau.
The SpongeBob Musical creative team is completed by choreographer Fabian Aloise, designer Steve Howell, Musical Supervisor Mark Crossland, Musical Director Marcus Carter-Adams, Costume Designer Sarah Mercade, Lighting and Video Designer Ben Bull, Sound Designer Ben Harrison, Costume and Wig Supervisor Megan Rarity, Associate Choreographer Paris Green and Casting Director Harry Blumenau Casting. Selladoor Worldwide are the General Managers.
The reviews below are from critics including The Times and The Stage, who saw the show at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
More reviews to follow.
Book tickets to The SpongeBob Musical at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London
The SpongeBob Musical reviews
"This loopy cartoon spin-off has us hooked"
"Unfamiliar with SpongeBob SquarePants? Not to worry. This bright, shiny and cartoonishy camp new touring production offers novices, including me and the theatre-loving friend I invited to see it, an opportunity for positive change."
"... you may find yourself smitten with the experience well before the finale."
"It is nothing if not animated, bouncing along in a consistently smartly silly manner that happily infects all aspects of the production."
"Lewis Cornay’s tirelessly terrific SpongeBob is well-supported by, among others, Irfan Damani’s dopey starfish Patrick"
"Lewis Cornay’s voice is a wonder"
"Joyful UK premiere of the daft, colourful musical about an underwater sponge"
"... a mostly new and mostly brilliant production by director Tara Overfield Wilkinson."
"Just to be clear, this is not a jukebox musical. They have not done a Rock of Ages on that animated sponge. With the exception of a couple of numbers from SpongeBob episodes and that Bowie reworking, these are all original songs."
"True, this touring production is not its best incarnation. It needs to be slicker, tighter, more controlled to earn its sense of chaos and dissolution... But it is all still a lurid delight, especially the colourful costumes by Sarah Mercadé, which deviate cleverly from the beautiful Broadway creations."
"Lewis Cornay’s relentlessly optimistic SpongeBob dominates the show. His voice is a wonder: not only does he hit every ridiculous note thrown at him, but he also manages to keep the strained, throaty SpongeBob voice while doing so."
"Nickleodeon’s SpongeBob musical"
"The cast is led gamely by Lewis Cornay’s SpongeBob, a schoolboy geek with a heart of gold. Divina De Campo plays Sheldon J Plankton, a routine baddie with dreams of seabed domination. De Campo is an underpowered Julian Clary."
"Songs ebb and flow. The dialogue washes over you. Minor characters float by without causing much offence."
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London