Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea? N-V-O-T

Unlock childhood memories with NVOT’s production of SpongeBob


Siena Griffin

The cast of Spongebob rehearses during tech week

After a two year hiatus since the last on-stage musical, the theater program is coming back to the stage with a surprising, but nonetheless impressive, All-School musical. The SpongeBob Musical will premiere on March 4, reimagining Bikini Bottom on the stage. The musical follows SpongeBob and his friends—Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and more—after they receive news of the impending explosion of Mount Humongous, a volcano that will level the town of Bikini Bottom. 

Inspired by the popular children’s show that first aired in 1999, Nickelodeon felt that SpongeBob deserved his very own musical. Upon the musical’s premiere on Broadway in 2016, it received twelve Tony Award nominations, prompting producers at Nickelodeon to adapt the play into a new television special three years later. 

Since selecting this musical, Director Susan Van Buskirk said that she is most excited about “seeing the audience laugh and experience the joy of this show.” 

Although Van Buskirk said students initially thought the musical would be a “silly kids show,” she was adamant about propelling the production past the cartoon it is associated with. She said, “Kids will love the dance and the set, and the familiar characters, but the larger messages about saving the environment, diversity, and community are very adult.”

To stay true to the show’s environmental message, the set was constructed almost entirely from recycled materials. Junior Shay McGee, Head of Set Build, explained that using recycled products was “a little frustrating.” The crew attempted to “[recycle] as much wood as possible from past productions, but it kept splitting,” which made it unusable. As they overcame these difficulties, McGee said the process became “a lot of fun [by] finding different ways [to] use different materials.” 

Junior Seho Lee, who stars as Spongebob, was originally one of the show’s skeptics. But after learning the songs and dance numbers, he was able to embrace the musical. He said, “Though the show sounds silly, it is filled with catchy music, exciting dance numbers, great life lessons, and even interesting social commentary.” 

Senior Matthew Lindley, who acts alongside Lee as Plankton, mirrored his co-star’s enthusiasm. Lindley explained that the musical’s style of dance was new to him, stating that “everyone will be surprised at how good our choreography is,” citing the dance routines as his favorite part of the production. 

Choreographer Caitlin Ort has joined the production of the musical as the main choreographer. She recently starred as Karen in the North American tour of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. Van Buskirk is thrilled to know “the Broadway choreography and learn more about the intentions of the show’s original director, Tina Landau.”

With this show being the first musical in two years to take the stage, given the vast complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the freshmen and the current sophomores have not experienced what would be considered a typical rehearsal season. The inclusive and hardworking cast and crew, however, managed to make this opportunity into an incredible experience. Freshman Grey Ingledue, the Props Master of this year’s musical, explained that “being in person is really helping the company get back into the way theater [was run] before the pandemic.”

Hard work and dedication were two of the most important ingredients when it came to creating the show. Students were diligent in their efforts to regain their comfort on stage, although the process “felt strange at first,” according to sophomore Sophia Ashbahian, who plays a member of the Bikini Bottom girl band, the Electric Skates.

Senior Alexa Farah, who plays Sandy Cheeks, feels that although this year has its fair share of differences from previous years, it has still been an amazing experience. Farah appreciates the memories and bonds she has made, reminiscing on “the 10-minute meditations” and “crazy traditions” the cast takes part in.

Since winter break, the theater program has worked countless hours to bring this musical to life, with rehearsals at least five days a week and constant practice. Ingledue said, “So far the preparation process has included a lot of long days, but [it has been] really fun to work in the theater atmosphere and with all the fabulous people.” 

Opening night is Friday, March 4 at 7:00 p.m., and there are three more shows the following weekend on March 5 and 6, as well as a show for seniors on Wednesday, March 2.