Clark State’s ‘The SpongeBob Musical’ not just for kids

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The residents of Bikini Bottom are about to rise to the Springfield stage, led by that character who is absorbent, yellow, porous and lives in a pineapple under the sea — cartoon legend SpongeBob SquarePants.

The Clark State Theatre Arts Department invites you to go under the sea for a spring break getaway with “The SpongeBob Musical,” 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. Tickets are still available.

Whereas SpongeBob has been a beloved cartoon for years, why would people want to see his adventures beyond their screens? For the cast and creative team, it’s a chance to experience what they love a different way that transcends television.

For producer Theresa Lauricella, it’s for the Theatre Arts program to use the spacious Kuss Auditorium stage where more characters, set pieces, larger props and spectacle can be accommodated and an all-around bigger production.

“Also, by selecting a musical, we can offer performers and audiences the opportunity to experience a live orchestra,” she said. “Audiences respond enthusiastically to our musical productions in the Kuss, and I wanted to find a show and production that could bring about a similar joy, but for a family audience and this exceeded my expectations.”

While SpongeBob can appeal to a lot of ages, the team wants those who may think it’s just for kids to reconsider. The show boasts songs from popular artists like Springfield’s own John Legend, David Bowie and Panic! at the Disco.

“We discovered the show is an experience for all ages — the under 40s who grew up watching the cartoon and the over 40s whose children and grandchildren watched it. And the music typically transcends the ages,” said Lauricella

Director Josh Compston said it’s the show’s energy is big and infectious, not just silly sponges and devious schemes.

“‘The SpongeBob Musical speaks to the anxious underdog in all of us,” he said.

The cast has 31 performers and a behind-the-scenes team of 36 students and volunteers, many doing double and triple duties so that the show stands up to the expectations of what you may see in a musical about a sponge, Compston said.

Dawson Hudson, assistant director and a theater major, grew watching the show and has to pull himself out of the thought it’s a show and realize it’s a musical.

“I’ve never seen so many passionate, hardworking people,” he said.

A fall production of “The Crucible” saw the program use youngsters from the Springfield Arts Council’s Youth Arts Ambassadors, and this brings several of those back. Compston and Lauricella are excited for this interest and the future.

“It indicates the program is succeeding in engaging and inspiring the next generation of performers and theater enthusiasts,” said Compston.

Hudson was one of the actors in “The Crucible” and saw the enthusiasm, felt the experience and like a kid when working in a career he loves and having the ambassadors is an added layer and will be reflected in “SpongeBob the Musical.”

“It’s amazing for kids and adults alike, so bring your whole family,” he said.


What: “The SpongeBob Musical”

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: 8 p.m. Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7

Admission: Adults $20; students and seniors $17; ages 17-under $5 with adult ticket purchase

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