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‘Spongebob Squarepants’ Musical to Open on Broadway This Fall

Variety logo Variety 6/5/2017 Gordon Cox
© Provided by Variety

Bikini Bottom hits Broadway later this year, when “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the stage musical that premiered in Chicago in 2016 as “The SpongeBob Musical,” opens at the Palace Theater in December.

The show, the first big Broadway bet for Nickelodeon as a lead producer, will bring with it the work of an unusual collection of well-known music acts that have each written a tune for the show. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (of Aerosmith), John Legend, Sara Bareilles, Panic! at the Disco, T.I., The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper and They Might Be Giants are among the names that have contributed to the score.

The “SpongeBob” booking also indicates that the ambitious renovation plans for the Palace Theater, which will put the Broadway venue out of commission for three years, won’t be happening anytime soon. A rep for the Nederlander Organization, which owns the Palace, said the exact plans and timeline for the renovation are still in development.

The hit animated series that inspired the “SpongeBob SquarePants” musical can lay claim to a sweeping fanbase of all ages: The second feature film based on the property, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” was the top-grossing film that weekend it opened.

Still, getting those crowds to turn up on Broadway will likely require a canny marketing push by producers. Even with a new title more directly in line with the TV show, the show’s translation of a surreal animated world — in which human actors play deep-sea creatures without the benefit of puppets — could prove a hurdle for potential ticketbuyers to wrap their heads around.

The show’s storyline, in a book written by Kyle Jarrow, centers on a volcano that threatens the undersea town of Bikini Bottom and everyone who lives in it. The lead players in the Chicago cast will remain intact for Broadway, with Ethan Slater, playing the chipper sponge of the title, lead an ensemble that also includes Gavin Lee, Lilli Cooper and Danny Skinner. Tina Landau helms a creative team of Broadway regulars that includes music supervisor Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”) and choreographer Christopher Gatelli.

Produced by Nickelodeon with the Araca Group, Sony Music Masterworks and Kelp on the Road, “SpongeBob SquarePants” begins previews Nov. 6 ahead of a Dec. 4 opening.

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