‘SpongeBob’ soaks up silliness

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

The Ram’s Head production of “The SpongeBob Musical” drew consistently large crowds despite last weekend’s jam-packed event schedule — and for good reason. The comedy was a musical mastery, with a cast of serious stars and an even better live orchestra.

The musical follows the beloved characters of television’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” as an impending volcanic eruption threatens to destroy Bikini Bottom. The endlessly-optimistic SpongeBob, accompanied by sea star Patrick and Texan squirrel scientist Sandy, set out to prevent the eruption despite the scheming of villainous restaurateur Plankton. 

Undoubtedly, the musical’s greatest strength was its sound. Each actor’s interpretation of their character’s voice was recognizable and consistent without being grating. The impressions carried into each song with ease without detracting from the performers’ obvious vocal talent. 

Charlie Kogen ’24, who played SpongeBob, did a laudable job leading the cast. His bright tone was easy to listen to, and his energy stayed high throughout his many solos. It’s difficult to imagine a voice better suited for the part. 

Yet the night’s most outstanding vocal performance came from the much smaller part of Pearl, a perpetually-annoyed teenage whale played by Jordan Finley ’24. Finley stirred excitement with each appearance; her crystal-clear belting and resounding vibrato brought genuine goosebumps. Pearl’s strained relationship with her father, Mr. Krabs, was a welcome soft spot in an otherwise outlandish narrative. The pair’s dynamic was natural despite the cartoonish setting, and the viewer finds themselves earnestly rooting for Pearl to be understood by her profit-driven dad. 

Complementing the well-trained voices was an impeccably-tight, expressive live orchestra led by Brian Pham ’24 M.S. ’25 and Joshua Delgadillo ’26. The pit seemed to house just about every instrument in the sea as they matched the genre of each song. The orchestra also produced impressive live sound effects, breathing life into the performance and adding cute references to the original television show, such as Squidward’s squelching walk and Spongebob’s nose flute.

Although the musical featured an impressive score, its choreography was often lacking in conviction and coordination. However, there were a few bright spots: Shawn Kang ’23 M.S. ’25 as Patrick executed an impressive dance sequence with a bright pink tambourine during a solo, and Spongebob and Patrick’s best friend dance was right on the nose.

The set and costume design were also certain highlights. The lead actors wore predictable but well-done interpretations of the original cartoon’s character designs, but costuming really shone with the ensemble cast. Caleb Benz ’26 as Larry the Lobster wore a delightful combination of gym clothes, a bright red cropped puffer, a feathery headpiece and dramatic red eyeshadow. Brooke Ballhaus ’26 as Mrs. Puff wore a voluminous royal blue hoop skirt adorned with polka dots and a pearl necklace. The pair felt snatched straight from the television screen.

While the characters were decidedly cartoonish, the script was overloaded with metaphors for current global issues that often fell flat. Is a musical about a cartoon sponge the place to take on themes of climate change, science denial, xenophobia (against squirrels) and the failures of government and the media? Perhaps not. Yet the cast delivered the lines well and managed to get a few laughs. 

Ultimately, the best comedic moments in the production came from the cast’s performances, not the script. Patrick, Squidward (Daniel Grossman ’26) and Mr. Krabs (Daniel Rashes ’26) in particular delivered excellent physical comedy. Grossman’s constant pompous expression, peculiar stance and four-legged strut was pure silliness, as were Rashes’ attempts to maneuver with comically oversized boxing gloves. The dynamic between the theatrical, egocentric Plankton (Oriana Riley ’25, a Managing Editor at the Daily) and his monotone computer wife, Karen (Maya Deshmukh ’27), was also a fan favorite.

I left Memorial Auditorium feeling slightly disoriented but thoroughly entertained. The artfully-assembled cast of “Spongebob” triumphed at bringing the delightfully silly energy of the original television show to the stage, making for the perfect weekend diversion.