In watching the opening credits of SpongeBob Squarepants, in which that gravel-voiced pirate sings the crucial question, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” did you ever pause and think, “What fascinating, subtle allusions to the likes of T.I.’s ‘Whatever You Like,’ Bowie’s ‘Queen Bitch’ and the work of dissonant indie chirpers, Dirty Projectors”?No? Well, that makes sense, because the SpongeBob theme song did not bear allusions to these artists, but rather merely explicated, by way of a manic seafarer, the backstory of the “absorbent and yellow and porous” protagonist. However, with the newly announced, fascinatingly prestigious-sounding Spongebob musical, titled The SpongeBob Musical, it seems such associations won’t be completely random.
According to Variety, Nickelodeon is producing a Broadway musical about the rigidly-undergarmented, overzealous fry-cook. (Though the plan is actually for it to premiere in Chicago on June 7, 2016 and then go on to NY for the 2016-2017 season). Before getting into the plethora of unexpected musicians contributing to the project, it should first be noted that this whole thing was conceived and will be directed by the very respected director/author/performer Tina Landau — who co-wrote The Viewpoints Book with Anne Bogart, and who’s a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Perhaps it’s the notion of the venerable backbone of Landau’s direction/vision that’s drawing so many important artists to the (literally spineless) cartoon protagonist. Such artists include: David Bowie, T.I., The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Dirty Projectors, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s, Jonathan Coulton and They Might Be Giants, all of whom will be writing original songs for the musical. These contributions are all being overseen by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Tom Kitt, who’s serving as musical supervisor.
The producers have called the upcoming show “a rousing tale of a simple sea sponge who faces the unfathomable. It’s a celebration of unbridled hope, unexpected heroes, and pure theatrical invention.”