Broadway-Bound SpongeBob Musical Announces Lead Casting

News   Broadway-Bound SpongeBob Musical Announces Lead Casting
 
The Broadway-aimed The SpongeBob Musical has cast a virtual unknown, Ethan Slater, in the title role of the "absorbent and yellow and porous" character.

Lilli Cooper will play SpongeBob’s close friend Sandy Cheeks. Casting for Patrick and Mr. Krabs has yet to be announced.

The cast will also feature Gaelen Gilliland, Curtis Holbrook, Stephanie Hsu, L’ogan J’ones, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Mark Ledbetter, Kelvin Moon Loh, Vasthy Mompoint, JC Schuster, Abby C. Smith and Jason Michael Snow.

Lilli Cooper
Lilli Cooper

Slater's credits include the role of Modell in Diner at Delaware Theater Company. His Off-Broadway credits include parts in Claudio Quest (NYMF), What We Know (Teatro Circulo) and Independents (SoHo Playhouse, FringeNYC).

Cooper, who plays the submarine squirrel maiden Sandy Cheeks), played Martha in the original Broadway production of Spring Awakening and was a standby for Elphaba in the Broadway company of Wicked.

The production's tryout will begin previews June 7 at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, with a limited run scheduled through July 3.

Broadway dates have not been announced.

Spanning nine seasons on Nickelodeon, SpongeBob SquarePants has had his fair share of underwater adventures. But, on Broadway, he's going to have to save the world.

"I know this sounds insane, but it's basically SpongeBob Apocalypse," book writer Kyle Jarrow (A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, Whisper House) told Playbill.com. "If you can imagine the movie 'Armageddon' with SpongeBob as like the main character, essentially saving the world, that is… It's not about an asteroid, but other than that it's basically SpongeBob has to save the world from certain destruction. In that way it's a little bit like Fallout — about impending doom and what you do." 

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Jarrow was referring to his new musical Fallout, set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Co-written with writer and performer Nick Blaemire (Glory Days), a concert version of the new work will be presented next month at Feinstein's/54 Below.

As for SpongeBob, the musical will feature songs from a mixture of classic and contemporary artists, including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of the band Aerosmith, Tony winner Cyndi Lauper (Kinky Boots), They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, Dirty Projectors, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's and T.I., with an additional song by David Bowie and additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton.

"All of the musicians got a brief on where their song fits in the story, so they weren't randomly writing songs on the topic of SpongeBob," Jarrow explained. "They knew where it fit in the story."

He added, "SpongeBob is super fun. It's obviously family-friendly; it's got like a hipster humor to it as well, but I think there's an opportunity to say something that actually matters about the way that we live now and about the way that fear can make people make decisions that are maybe not the smartest decisions."

Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, If/Then) provides music supervision for the show and, according to Jarrow, is "making it sound cohesive."

He added, "To be a book writer, where you have, I think, 14 different songwriters, it's just a crazy beast. It's been really wild, but it's super awesome. It's just a really complicated animal, so it's been this fun process of figuring out how to get the songs to fit."

The production is co-conceived and directed by Tina Landau (Superior Donuts, Bells Are Ringing), and Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies) will choreograph. 

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