Bonjour! Salut! The Spongebob Squarepants Musical was a sight to behold both on Broadway and live television. However, with Clovis North Bronco Drama ending its run of Spongebob's porous adventures, how does it stand up to its predecessors?
As a self proclaimed Spongebob musical fanatic I have seen both the Broadway and live on air performances both held in different theaters. Both have incredible set design and creativity is found in every prop with strikingly precise detail. One example I can share that exemplifies just how amazing the set and prop design is in the Clovis North Adaption and the Broadway musical is with Squidward’s set during his solo with a large Broadway-esque sign with his name engraved in it, highlighting the feelings of grandeur during that scene in Squidwards imagination. The sets at Clovis North are a perfect representation of the setting found in the Broadway show. However, while the setting is a key part in bringing the story and characters to life, it all depends on the actors' portrayal of this nautical cast.
Before going into the characters, however, we must first delve into the story. The musical begins with an ordinary day in Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob’s town, interrupted by news of an active volcano located at the top of a mountain named Mount Humongous. The townsfolk are in a panic due to this news until Plankton, the villain character of the show, recommends evacuating the town and starting anew in a place far away by using an escape pod. However, Plankton has formed a scheme to hypnotize the entire town once they get into the escape pod, in order to get them to buy food from his restaurant. The town then comes together to form a benefit concert to raise the funds for the escape pod.
Meanwhile, Sponegbob wants to save the town and after steeling his resolve that he is not “just a simple sponge” he ventures to the top of Mount Humongous accompanied by Sandy and Patrick, who he recruits. The trio goes through many trials and tribulations, even losing Patrick, SpongeBob’s best friend, in the process, as he gains a fanatic cult following. However, when all is said and done, the trio succeeds in stopping the eruption and saving Bikini Bottom. The Broadway cast highlights these emotions and tensions well within the context of the story. Bronco Drama also succeeds in replicating this exact same emotion.
A friend and fellow student who attended the musical said to me, “the humanization of Spongebob was unexpected, but carried much more weight than I ever thought a yellow, porous sponge could.”.
I carry that same sentiment with me.
The acting, the songs, and their performances are truly homages to their creators. Most musicals have a group or one person creating all the songs to add motifs to the performance however the Spongebob Musical flips this on its head having a different songwriter make their own original song to add into the musical. Artists range from “They Might Be Giants” to the legendary David Bowie. However, there is one downside to the songs and the acting in general in the Clovis North production. It is the technical side of the performance, regarding sound.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has been only now seeing a slow down in the U.S. after almost 2 years of it affecting the country, the actors and audience goers were required to wear face masks to protect themselves. While this did not hinder the audience, in regards to sound, the actors had their voices muffled from their microphones interfering with the mask making it extremely difficult to hear or understand certain lines. This is especially true in the song sections where the music and the ensemble shroud the voices of the main characters making them almost unintelligible. While some actors were able to successfully project their voice out and make themselves known, others were muffled or so quiet that people who were attending the show for the first time would have a very hard time following the plot as major character moments and important plot details are in the songs.
Overall, though the Clovis North Bronco Drama performance, while suffering in sound a very integral part in any play or musical, stayed true to its Broadway counterpart in casting, setting and performance and succeeded in impressing the audience as well as a self appointed Sponegbob the Musical connoisseur. Good job Clovis North I would give your performance an 8/10.