"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) tells 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."
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 take place next month at Feinstein's/54 Below. (Look for more exclusive details on the project on Playbill.com.)
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 explains. "They knew where it fit in the story."
He adds, "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."
The show will open at Chicago's Oriental Theatre June 7 before a planned move to Broadway at a theatre to be announced. Although not many more details could be shared, Jarrow says that casting will be announced in the coming weeks and that it's "an awesome cast."
Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, If/Then) provides music supervision for the show and, according to Jarrow, is "making it sound cohesive."
He adds, "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."