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REVIEW: Spongebob musical a bubbly show

The Southland App

Chris Chilton

14 March 2024, 8:34 PM

REVIEW: Spongebob musical a bubbly show Photo: Robyn Edie (Sam McGregor as Squidward)

The future of Invercargill Musical Theatre (the organisation and the genre) is in a superb state if this bubbly show is anything to go by.


The youthful cast is chokka full of upcoming stars who have all the talent to grace southern stages for many years to come.


The Nickelodeon cartoon series SpongeBob Squarepants translates well into this zippy musical production. All across the stage there is great energy, comedy and colour, as well as some seriously impressive singing performances, and the entire production clocks in at a breathless one hour 10 minutes, with no intermission.



The storyline is typically SpongeBob. An active volcano threatens to blow the undersea community of Bikini Bottom out of the water, causing panic in the town and some evil scheming by Plankton (Luke Bottger) and Karen (Emerson Dahldavis), who are always eager to bring down their patty-flipping nemesis, Mr Krabs (Dodie Pickett).


Can the eternally sunshiny SpongeBob (Levi Te Amo) unite the community and save the day? Will there be a glorious, uplifting finale? Will SpongeBob ever get to manage the Krusty Krab? 


OK, so if the plot sounds like an episode from the Nickelodeon show, how did the young Invercargill cast adapt to the stylised cartoon characters they were playing? This is a very talented ensemble. They all came up aces. 



Levi Te Amo is quite remarkable in his characterisations and stage presence, and he is a terrific singer. Not only does he catch the uber-optimistic nuance of our yellow spongy hero, he has the voice down pat. This is typical for all the main speaking characters, who have done a lot of work on getting the vocalisations and accents right. Te Amo is destined for many more memorable performances in the future.


The lunkish, loveable Patrick Star (Shanna-Beth Smith), brainiac land-based mammal Sandy Cheeks (Emma McGregor) and the cynically gloomy Squidward Tentacles (Sam McGregor) also have dominant roles, in a show that gives all members of the cast a licence to shine. Among the standout sidekicks are the mayor (Emily Blythe) and buoyant news anchor Perch Perkins (Draven Booth). Even the sardines who worship Patrick’s every nonsensical word generate laughs.


A lot of credit has to go to the directorial team of Travis Luke, Eve McSoriley and Bella Williams. Their positivity has spread like wildfire through the cast, who make every move larger than life and bring their own animation to the production.



The music is infectiously catchy, too, which isn’t surprising when you consider songwriting credits that include the Plain White T’s, Panic! At the Disco, Cindy Lauper, Lady Antebellum and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith. David Bowie and Brian Eno wrote one as well for the long-form show but that song isn’t in the truncated junior production.


If you’ve got an hour and a bit to invest in one of the four performances over the next three days (there’s a matinee and evening show on Saturday), you will find yourself suitably entertained and impressed by the cream of our local young musical theatre talent.


THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL YOUTH EDITION

Invercargill Musical Theatre

Civic Theatre, Invercargill 14-16 March

Director: Travis Luke. Musical director: Eve McSoriley. Choreographer: Bella Williams.

https://premier.ticketek.co.nz/shows/show.aspx?sh=SPONGE24



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