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  The SpongeBob Musical at Nederlander Theatre

The SpongeBob Musical

Nederlander Theatre
24 W. Randolph Chicago

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 SpongeBob Musical will be a one-of-a-kind musical event with original songs by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of AEROSMITH, Jonathan Coulton, Dirty Projectors, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's, They Might Be Giants and T.I., with an additional song by David Bowie and additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton.

Thru - Jul 10, 2016

Price: $30-$97

Show Type: Childrens

Running Time: 2hrs, 25mins; one intermission

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  The SpongeBob Musical Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...The eye-popping, wildly distinctive set to "SpongeBob" spills out across the theater - a wacky world of pool noodles, runaways and silly machinery, all with a recycled air. That's ammunition against any charge of excessive spectacle, although excessive certainly would not be an unfair adjective to describe this show at some moments. At times in Act 1, it feels too much like we are watching the goings-on in a hyper-kinetic Munchkinland."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...Part allegory of the precarious world in which we all now dwell, and part satire on everything from the bureaucratic babble of modern-day politicians to the hunger for moneymaking, the bloated egos of pop music groups, messianic leaders and the eternal lure of stardom, the show is full of wildly energetic performers and playful, imaginative stagecraft that might best be described as one part lavish Dollar Store ingenuity, one part Cirque du Soleil and one part childlike invention. The show also arrives with a seamless musical mashup of more than a dozen songs by as many composer-lyricists with zesty pastiche numbers that move from hip-hop, soul, disco and heavy metal to pure Broadway."
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Hedy Weiss

Daily Herald - Recommended

"...The score -- arranged and orchestrated by Tom Kitt ("Next to Normal") and conducted with panache by music director Julie McBride -- includes songs by the Plain White T's, T.I., Panic! At the Disco, Yolanda Adams and John Legend among others. A montage of pop, hip-hop, gospel, electronica and rock, it includes Jonathan Coulton's exuberant opening number "Bikini Bottom Day" and the sweet, buoyant "Best Day Ever" by Andy Paley and Tom Kenny. The latter, according to 10-year-old Samantha, a SpongeBob expert who accompanied me to Sunday's opening, is a holdover from the TV show. Other highlights include Adams' gospel-tinged "Super Sea Star Savior" and a touching ode to friendship by Legend, "(I Guess I) Miss You," which is as close to a love song as "The SpongeBob Musical" gets."
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Barbara Vitello

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Nickelodeon was just getting out of peak weirdness when it debuted Stephen Hillenburg's inviting animated series about a patty-flipping bachelor at the bottom of the sea. Unlike a lot of 90s cartoon characters, SpongeBob made unbridled joy seem cool. Tina Landau's and Kyle Jarrow's pre-Broadway tryout does right by the little guy-the whole community of Bikini Bottom, in fact-by cleverly translating the franchise's hallmark style, running gags, metacomedy, and personalities to the stage."
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Dan Jakes

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...The entire multi-talented ensemble shines amid the fantastically colorful sea-inspired sets and within the wacky costumes of Tony Award-winning designer David Zinn. The color-saturated tropical lighting of Kevin Adams and the sophisticated animated projections of Peter Nigrini are also continual delights."
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Scott C. Morgan

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...That results in an appreciable variety, but also means the songs don't speak to each other as much as they might in a more traditional, single-composer score. (One can only imagine the yeoman's work done by music supervisor and orchestrator Tom Kitt to keep the show's sound consistent.) Overall, though, the chosen songwriters (who also include Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, Panic! At the Disco, The Flaming Lips and They Might Be Giants among others) bring a theatrical mindset to their own work; blended here with contributions from a thoroughly diverse team, they add up to a surprisingly absorbing show."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Zinn's costumes are pretty cool, too. Like a skilled painter, with a few flourishes of his brush, Zinn turns recognizable people into cartoon characters - or is it actually the other way around? In any case, Bikini Bottom is populated by, well, folks we can connect with. SpongeBob does not come encased in a big yellow sponge; he wears a yellow shirt and snazzy plaid shorts. He's a person, a boy - one who might be Peter Pan bounding around in Netherland."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Yes! Packed with nautical novelties and anemone attractions, this lavish co-production by Nickelodeon, Sony Music Masterworks, The Arca Group and Keep On The Road is a world premiere that works, a deep-sea delight splendid to see and gorgeous to hear. A tribute to Neptune, this wickedly winning offering takes us on an enthralling 150-minute amusement ride, delivering equal joy to children and non-kids. Happily too, the oceanic appeal of this animated Atlantis rewards both instantly converted non-fans and aficionados of the aquatic caricatures of blue-green Bikini Bottom."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Chicago needs Bikini Bottom to escape from all the madness going on in this city. Certainly it was an exciting underwater escapade to hang out with the incredible cast of "The Sponge Bob Musical". Entertaining, eccentric, electrifying and if I could give it a rating greater than highly recommended I would. I say this because it is creative, fun, and even though we know Sponge Bob Square Pants to be the beloved children's character, most of the audience members were adults escaping the stresses of everyday life if only for a couple of hours."
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Sally Jo Osborne

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...Co-conceiver and director Tina Landau has pulled together an impressive array of top shelf talent and unleashed their ideas. The final product, a non stop 2.5 hour scrumptious seafood buffet of lights, songs and beloved familiar characters (for Spongebob fans) is sure to be a hit from the start of Patchy the Pirate's antics to the final bubble/confetti/streamer/beach ball filled finale."

Angela Allyn

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...The story is well told, albeit, a bit longer than it need be. Running time with an intermission is 2 hours-25 minutes. As they think “Broadway”, they might want to look at cutting a few bits here and there. When the show begins, we see several of the musicians onstage, including the Music Director, Julie McBride, who plays a major part in the show, in addition to conducting the orchestra. Her interplay with the characters is very cute and should not be touched. I think the prologue with Patchy the Pirate (Jason Michael Snow), SpongeBob’s number one fan is a bit much and despite a cute number in the second act, is probably a place where time can be shaved off. I found that the kids in the audience became restless, as did a few adults."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...The bad news is that “The SpongeBob Musical” retains only a little of the cartoon’s initial edge: Like the movies, the play seems to be a capitalist tool designed to inflate the profits of corporate producer Nickelodeon. But there’s also good news: As capitalist tools go, this one is creative, energetic, musically infectious and highly entertaining. Even for more discriminating viewers, it’s a good, if occasionally guilt-inducing, waste of time."
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Michael Amedeo

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This gorgeous, happy, optimistic musical is just plain, old-fashioned fun. Filled with vibrant color and sound and overflowing with mind-boggling creativity, the show features a talented cast of triple threats, led by the wonderful Ethan Slater and Gavin Lee. It sports delightful, catchy songs like "Bikini Bottom Day," "BFF," "Hero Is My Middle Name," "Poor Pirates" and the contagious "Best Day Ever." A family musical, in the vein of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" or "Seussical, the Musical," this show offers wet and wild entertainment that will give audiences a well-deserved break from all the negativity in today's world, and help them cool off, if only for three more weeks, during these hot summer nights. All hail the "Super Sea Savior"!"
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"...SpongeBob SquarePants is a major brand in American entertainment. It has a built-in constituency that could elevate the musical into a want to see experience for kids seeing their cartoon heroes come alive, as well as for more senior viewers who thrive on spectacular singing and dancing presented by a skilled eager-to-please collection of performers."

Dan Zeff

Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...The SpongeBob Musical really stays true to the spirit of the series. The themes and lessons that children are meant to learn are not heavy-handed at all; they are subtle, funny and entertaining, which is the perfect combination for reaching children. Children will gain a respect and interest in science, teamwork, friendship, and the rewards of having a positive attitude. Children who are on the precipice of adolescence have even more complex issues, such as identity crises to handle, which SpongeBob teaches by cathartically learning what strengths he brings to his team, both in climbing the volcano and in his job at the Krusty Krab. He also teaches kids to not give in to irrational fears."

Corey Taylor

Chicagoland Musical Theatre - Recommended

"...It's probably sacrilege to say something like this in on an arts site, but kudos must be given to the suits at Nickelodeon for implicitly trusting this motley crew as much as they have with their absorbent friend. And even if there is a lot to absorb seeing it, and a fair few things to iron out, one thing is clear: these days, The SpongeBob Musical is more than welcome."
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Patrick O'Brien

Third Coast Review - Highly Recommended

"...Ultimately, The SpongeBob Musical is a buffoonish bonanza with real heart. Anchored by stylish design, imaginative staging and strong performances, the production honors its source material, while reinventing it to touch a new generation of audiences. The story of The SpongeBob Musical may be fluffy, but its case for optimism and sheer creativity can't help but create an undefeatable experience of infectious joy."
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Brent Eickhoff

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