Based on perennial Nickelodeon cartoon favorite SpongeBob SquarePants, the show will begin its tryout June 7, 2016, at Chicago's Oriental Theatre. The limited engagement ends July 3. It will then move to Broadway at a date and theatre to be announced. The show is still in the midst of casting.
Gattelli, who will serve as the show's choreographer, also earned a Tony nomination this year for his work on The King and I.
The production is co-conceived and directed by Tina Landau (Superior Donuts, Bells Are Ringing), with a book by Kyle Jarrow (A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, Whisper House) and music supervision by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, If/Then).
As first reported in February 2015, Nickelodeon will make its Broadway debut as a producer on the musical, with a score provided by a mixture of classic and contemporary rockers. The full list of composers was announced Aug. 31: 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.
The cartoon series is known for its anarchic double-entendre humor, telling the story of a perpetually cheerful sponge who "lives in a pineapple under the sea," in a town called Bikini Bottom, and has adventures with his dimwitted starfish friend Patrick, his pet snail Gary, and a dour co-worker, a squid named Squidward. The plot of the musical is described thus: "The end is near. Only one sponge can save the day. But he's going to need help from some of the greatest songwriters in rock and pop music history."
The show will have sets and costumes by David Zinn (Fun Home, The Flick), lighting by Kevin Adams (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), projection design by Peter Nigrini (The Heidi Chronicles) and sound design by Walter Trarbach (Doctor Zhivago).
Landau issued the following statement: “I was drawn to this project not only for its wild theatrical possibility, but also because I felt SpongeBob, at its core, is a layered and hilarious ensemble comedy. SpongeBob himself is of course its center and beating heart––the eternal innocent in a sea of cynics. He’s also the classic underdog hero, and so our production sets him on a hero’s journey with real stakes, all the while retaining the show’s trippy humor and irreverence. We’re taking our leads from the TV show but this is an original story, with an original design approach, and original songs written just for the occasion by an amazing array of songwriters. We will present the world of Bikini Bottom and its characters in a whole new way that can only be achieved in the live medium of the theatre. We’re bringing the show’s fabled characters to life through actors—not prosthetics or costumes that hide them—and we’re deploying some unconventional stage craft that will prove that anything can happen in Bikini Bottom.”
— Jeanine Poggi (@jpoggi) February 25, 2015
The network revealed the show's opening number, "Bikini Bottom Day," during Feb. 25 upfronts.
Stephen Hillenburg's cartoon debuted on Nickelodeon in 1999, and its second feature film, "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," was released Jan. 28, 2015.
The SpongeBob Musical will be presented as part of the Broadway In Chicago subscription series, with tickets going on sale in October. Group tickets for 10 or more are now on sale by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Individual tickets for The SpongeBob Musical will go on sale at a later date TBA. For more information, visit BroadwayInChicago.com.