It’s That Time of Year

It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting warmer and staying that way. The promise of summer is in the air. For me though, as someone who dreads the heat of summer, my excitement for this time of year falls to a different season: Tony Season! The nominations were announced at the beginning of May (of course I got up to watch the announcement live) and now we’re just a couple of days away from the Awards themselves!

I think this has been a really exciting season on Broadway and I’m so happy that some of my favourites received nominations, namely SpongeBob with 12 nominations and Once On This Island with 8 nominations, and that Ethan Slater and Hailey Kilgore were both nominated for their amazing debuts. And really, I’m just so excited for all of the nominees in every category, whether they be first timers or veterans.

Since I’ve only seen two of the nominated shows this season (SpongeBob and Once On This Island) I can’t really comment too much on the other nominees or what should/shouldn’t have been nominated (or win). I can only go off of what I’ve heard about the shows, what I’ve seen in clips and pictures, what I’ve read or heard on cast recordings. I am a little surprised though that Frozen didn’t get any nominations in and of thethe acting or design categories. I really don’t know who’s going to win this year. Sure I’d be happy if my favourites won but all of the other nominees are good too. And I’m sure if I had seen more of the shows I would have even more favourites in each category and it would be even harder to pick (not that my favourites or picks mean anything anyway).

It’s great that the Sound Design Tony Award has finally been brought back this year. That’s the one category in which I do actually have an idea of who I want to win. I really want Walter Trarbach (Sound Designer) and Mike Dobson (Foley Designer) to win for SpongeBob (and I think it’s great that they were jointly nominated). The use live/Foley sound effects in that show is amazing and I’m glad that at the very least it’s getting recognition through the nomination. Every time I hear someone from the show talk about the Foley work I’m more and more impressed by it.

I was happy to see SpongeBob nominated for Best Score as well, mainly because I wanted to see how it would work with all of the different artists who contributed music for the show. (Did you ever think you’d hear the phrase “Tony Nominee T.I.” or “Tony Nominee Plain White T’s”?!). I think we should also acknowledge the fact that Tina Landau, director of SpongeBob, is the only woman to be nominated in the Best Director of a Musical category and one of only two women to be nominated between the two directing categories.

I like that, at least from what I can tell, there isn’t a clear “big winner” this year.  Two years ago we had Hamilton which was obviously going to be a big winner in the majority of (musical) categories. Last Year wasn’t quite as obvious, but it was pretty clear that Dear Evan Hansen was going to win pretty big. Come From Away was a good contender though. And now this year, there are a lot of shows getting a lot of hype and there is so much variety between the nominated shows. It is interesting to note that in the Best Musical category this year, all of the nominees are based on/inspired by something else (ie a movie or TV show). I can’t wait to see who’s going to come out on top!

I am looking forward to seeing Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban as hosts. I think it’s going to be great and I’m looking forward to the inevitable Great Comet and Waitress references! Maybe Josh will even bust out the accordian! (We can only hope!)

As always I’m really excited for all of the performances. Considering this year’s nominees in the Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical categories, I can’t wait to see what they bring to this year’s broadcast! So far I know which song the SpongeBob cast will be performing and that the Once On This Island cast will be performing at 10:06 (and that the goats and chicken will be there!).

So whether or not you’re excited about the looming summer, there’s no denying it’s an exciting time of year when you’re a Broadway fan!

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The Show Will Go On

It’s always exciting when you find out that one of your favourite closed Broadway shows is going to have a continued life. Today it was announced that Bandstand is going to be shown in movie theatres in June. I’m still waiting to find out for sure whether it will be shown in theatres in Canada, but for now I’m going to work with the assumption that since other similar screenings have all been shown in Canada, this one will too (it better be!). And you can bet I will be buying tickets the day I find out for sure. There is no way I’m going to miss this one, if I can help it!

Getting to see this show again, in any capacity, but especially with that (original) cast is pretty much a dream come true. Getting to witness those performances again, particularly “Right This Way” and “Welcome Home (Finale)”- I can’t wait!

Not only am I excited for myself, I’m also about what it will mean for the show and those who were a part of it. I’m excited for people like me who will get to re-experience it through the screening and I’m excited for those who didn’t get to see it before it closed who will now get to experience it for the first time. It’s such a good show with a great story and great music. I’ve always thought it deserved a longer life than it had on Broadway and now it will get that! It must be so exciting for everyone who was a part of the show too, knowing that it has this continuing life and that it will be able to reach so many more people. In everything I saw from and about the show and those in it, they always seemed so proud of the .show and the story they were telling

In previous posts I’ve written about my love for both Bandstand and filmed productions and now I’m so happy that Bandstand will be joining the ranks of shows that have graced the big screen. (Maybe if we all wish hard enough we can get a digital release too!) This is also the kind of Broadway news that is great for us fans outside of the city. There has been a lot of exciting Broadway (and Off-Broadway) news lately and while I always love reading it, it’s always with the knowledge that I may never actually get to see or experience whatever it is. This screening announcement however (and other similar announcements) is great news for the long distance fan. It’s always great when Broadway comes to us. And between the Tony Awards and now Bandstand, June is shaping up to be an excellent month for being a Broadway fan, wherever you are (or at least, wherever you are that will have a Bandstand screening)!

Put On A Happy Face

Do you have a go-to feel-good show or cast recording? One that, even if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it or listened to it, is always guaranteed to bring you joy when you do? One that will always put a smile on your face? For me, that show is Godspell, particularly the revival, but really any version, including the movie.

I’m sure part of it is that Godspell was my 2nd Broadway show and I loved every moment of that experience, so right off the bat it will always hold a special place in my heart. And the fact that I saw pretty much the entire revival cast (except I saw Corey Mach as Jesus instead of Hunter Parrish) makes it all the more exciting listening to that particular cast recording. On top of that there is just so much joy and beauty in the music. Sure the “Finale” hits you and takes you out of the joy for a bit but then it brings you right back to it at the end). My favourite songs include Uzo Aduba’s “By My Side” and the slowed down, revival version of “Beautiful City,” which is just so, well, beautiful. Godspell is just one of the reasons I’m a big Stephen Schwartz fan.

I did grow up in a family that regularly went to church (United Church) so perhaps that impacted the way I took in the musical. Honestly, I don’t know for sure about that but I do know that you don’t have to be religious to like the show or appreciate its story or themes. I think it’s a similar case with a lot of the shows based on Bible stories (Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), it’s about more than the religious aspect or source material. I think a big part of Godspell is about storytelling, and all of the stories presented in it (the parables) present a message, typically about being a good person, that you can enjoy and appreciate whether or not you consider yourself a religious person. There is hope in it too, especially at the end- it comes back to hope and joy.

I’ve watched a lot of Godspell videos on YouTube, and they too always bring a smile to my face. Show clips, TV show performances, recording studio videos, I love them all. There are also some great videos from when they put together a kid cast for the revival (the “Godspell Cast of 2032” they called it) who got to perform some of the songs at Circle in the Square, on the set, wearing costumes that matched their grown-up counterparts. Gaten Matarazzo, better known now as Dustin in Stranger Things, was Jesus in that 2032 cast. Seeing those kids performing those songs once again highlights the joy of the show. All of the videos I’ve watched do.

I would love to someday work on a production of Godspell. I don’t even really care in what capacity I work on it, I just want to be involved with it in some way.

There’s a reason this show is in my top 10 favourite musicals!

What’s the Buzz?

I just watched Jesus Christ Superstar Live for the second time and I have to say, for me,  the buzz is good! I loved this production and I was so glad that I actually got to watch it live! I missed the last few live musicals but I was back home for Easter which meant I had cable and was able to watch this one!

I’ll admit, Jesus Christ Superstar has never really been my favourite musical. I saw the movie from 1973 years ago and I just didn’t really take to it then. There were a few songs from the musical that I liked and would listen to, but as a whole it was never one I knew by heart (I think that is going to be changing soon though). I’ve been getting more into it recently (starting before the live production aired). Not long ago I watched the 2000 movie (Tony Vincent was part of the reason I wanted to watch this particular version) and I was reminded of more of the songs and that I do quite like the score. I’ve also been reading Andrew Lloyd Webber’s memoir, Unmasked, and reading what he has to say about the creation of Jesus Christ Superstar is so interesting (I’m just at the chapter about the show going to Broadway).

Another confession, it was only in the last couple of weeks that I actually got excited about Jesus Christ Superstar Live. It definitely helped when I realized how many amazing Broadway actors were going to be in it! In my opinion, casting done right for these live musicals means casting Broadway actors and thankfully they did with this show! It also helped my excitement when I figured out that I would actually be somewhere with cable when it aired and would be able to watch it live.

I’m going to say this now, I think this was the best of the live TV musicals so far. All of the elements came together so well to make it an excellent production. The cast was amazing (and huge) and the set was really cool (and also huge), along with the rest of the design.

Let’s start by talking about that cast. John Legend was probably the one I was least sure about. I know he’s a great singer but we haven’t seen him in anything like this, and Jesus is quite a demanding role. Overall I thought he did a good job. I really liked Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene and thought her voice really suited Mary’s songs. I loved the Act 2 song she sang with Jason Tam, who was great as Peter. Norm Lewis, as Caiaphas, has such a beautiful voice and amazing range- those low notes! Even the casting of Alice Cooper as King Herod worked well for this production. It’s definitely a role that works for celebrity casting. (It did kind of bug me that took the “lead” bow with John, Brandon and Sara though, since he only sings the one song, but I get it- the power of celebrity.) The real standout for me was Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas. He was absolutely amazing. I’m so glad it was a Broadway vet playing Judas, as it is also a demanding role, and Judas sings some of my favourite songs in the show, and Brandon nailed it! This was one of those casting choices that definitely helped to increase my excitement for the production ahead of time.

It was also exciting for me realizing how many people in the cast I’ve actually seen perform live including Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera and Once On This Island), Jason Tam (If/Then), Billy Lewis Jr. (Bat Out of Hell) who was in the ensemble, and Brandon Niederauer (School of Rock) who was the kid playing guitar.

The ensemble deserves some recognition too as every person brought so much amazing talent to the production, and even though we only got to hear one or two solo lines from most of them, they were all amazing! Used well I think large ensembles can be really cool, with their physical presence and their voices filling the space. And this is one of those productions in which it worked extremely well! I think the staging of this production was very well done and having such a large cast for it worked in its favour. The overall production value of it is really what made it the best of the live TV musicals. I loved the set and the overall design.  I was impressed by just how big the set really was. It seemed big enough and then there were a couple of times where it extended beyond what you thought was there. The end scene with the cross was a particularly beautiful and effective moment. I liked how the orchestra/band was such a big part of it too.

The addition of the live audience worked well for this production and added an interesting dynamic. It definitely had a positive impact on the energy of the performance. There were a couple of times, especially near the beginning where the sound of the audience almost overpowered the sound of the performance, but really, that happens sometimes when you go to see a live show and that’st part of the experience of seeing a live show, it’s just a little different and takes some getting used to when you’re sitting at home watching it on your TV and are not a part of that audience. (Can you imagine actually being a part of that live audience?!) Let’s see if the next musicals moving forward will follow suit! (I know Grease Live also had a live audience but it did seem different this time around, maybe because it was one set stage for this production.)

I loved the added bits during the commercial breaks when it would show the goings-on backstage and seeing pictures of the crew online changing sets and cleaning up the glitter. It also got me thinking, it must be hard doing these productions and having to stop for commercials, especially with a sung through show like Jesus Christ Superstar, as I imagine it would throw off the flow of performing the piece as opposed to just playing it straight through as would usually be done. But I also thought, with a show as vocally demanding as this, maybe it’s nice for them to actually get those water breaks. Not being a performer myself, I can’t really speak to that too much but I imagine it might things a little more difficult in their own way. It certainly didn’t seem to hinder any of the performances though!

I think this production showed what is possible with these live musicals and set the bar pretty high for any future productions, if they do continue to make them, which I sincerely hope they do, especially if they’re at this level, or better yet, if they keep making them better and better. And it shows how well it works with theatre people in the lead roles (Brandon Victor Dixon) as well as in the ensemble. I’m interested to see where they go from here and I’m excited for more repeat viewings of Jesus Christ Superstar!

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

A while ago I was watching some videos on YouTube that people had made of compilations of their top/favourite showtunes. There were videos for female solos and male solos and it got me thinking, what songs would I put on lists of my favourite musical theatre songs? This then led me to thinking of other “top” lists and the result is this post. Besides just songs I’ve also included some lists of my favourite shows and moments from shows. It was fun going through my iTunes library and Spotify lists trying to figure out what songs would actually go on these lists and especially if I were to limit myself to a certain number of songs (in this case 25). As a very indecisive person it was hard enough to pick the shows and songs so, unlike other lists you might find, my choices, on any of these lists, are not listed in any particular order. These lists are also ever-changing. I started working on them a while ago but since then I’ve seen more shows and heard more cast recordings bringing even more things into consideration. Who knows, this week’s lists might be completely different than those I would come up with next week or next month or next year!

These first two lists are based on shows that I have seen live.

Top 10 Favourite Musicals

  • We Will Rock You
  • Godspell
  • Wicked
  • Waitress
  • Bandstand
  • Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
  • Newsies
  • Rocky
  • Rent
  • Come From Away

Favourite Act 1 Finales:

  • Anything Goes- “Anything Goes”
  • Bandstand- “Right This Way”
  • Wicked- “Defying Gravity”
  • Rock of Ages- “Here I Go Again”
  • Bat Out of Hell- “Bat Out of Hell”

These next lists look at songs in different categories (female solo, male solo, duets/trios, group numbers). These lists include a mix of songs that I think are actually some of the best musical theatre songs and songs that I just really like (and I’m not going to tell you which are which)! I’ve probably left off some of the former in favour of  some of the latter, but it’s my list so I can include what I want! I also did not limit it to just songs from Broadway shows, so you’ll find some West End and Off-Broadway songs in there as well! To keep things simple (theoretically), I’ve also limited the songs to one per show (per list) though there are many shows that could have multiple songs on each list and it was harder than I thought to pick just one! Unlike the lists above, I have not seen all of these shows live.

(And honestly, these lists could have been a lot longer, which is why I decided to limit myself to 25 songs per list.)

Favourite Female Solos:

  • “She Used to Be Mine”- Waitress
  • “Welcome Home (Finale)”- Bandstand
  • “No Good Deed”- Wicked
  • “Vanilla Ice Cream”- She Loves Me
  • “Like Other Girls”- Daddy Long Legs
  • “By My Side”- Godspell
  • “Satisfied”- Hamilton
  • “So Much Better”- Legally Blonde
  • “Wonder”- Lord of the Rings
  • “Watch What Happens”- Newsies
  • “Woman”- The Pirate Queen
  • “Raining”- Rocky
  • “A Way Back to Then”- [Title of Show]
  • “A Quiet Night at Home”- Bare
  • “I Will Prevail”- Wonderland
  • “Always Starting Over”- If/Then
  • “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”- Phantom of the Opera (particularly Sierra Boggess’s version)
  • “Home”- Beauty and the Beast
  • “What I Did For Love”- A Chorus Line
  • “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”- Beautiful
  • “Breathe”- In the Heights
  • “Memory”- Cats
  • “Meadowlark”- The Baker’s Wife
  • “On My Own”- Les Miserables
  • “No One Else”- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Favourite Male Solos

  • “Role of a Lifetime”- Bare
  • “Dust and Ashes”- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
  • “Goodbye”- Catch Me If You Can
  • “When Your Mind’s Made Up”- Once
  • “She Loves Me”- She Loves Me
  • “Waving Through a Window”- Dear Evan Hansen
  • “Before the Summer Ends”- Dracula
  • “Wait For It”- Hamilton
  • “The Origin of Love”- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • “Beautiful City”- Godspell (revival version)
  • “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”- Les Miserables
  • “Til I Hear You Sing”- Love Never Dies
  • “Music of the Night”- Phantom of the Opera
  • “Santa Fe”- Newsies
  • “I’ve Been”- Next to Normal
  • “Run Away With Me”- The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown / The Mad Ones (by Kait Kerrigan & Brian Lowdermilk)
  • “Keep on Standing”- Rocky
  • “Being Alive”- Company
  • “One Song Glory”- Rent
  • “If I Can’t Love Her”- Beauty and the Beast
  • “(Just a) Simple Sponge”- SpongeBob SquarePants
  • “I Believe”- The Book of Mormon
  • “Anthem”- Chess
  • “Electricity”- Billy Elliot
  • “Make Them Hear You”- Ragtime

Favourite Duets/Trios:

  • “Falling Slowly”- Once
  • “Sunrise”- In the Heights
  • “Who I’d Be”- Shrek
  • “If I Said I Love You”- The Pirate Queen
  • “I Will Never Leave You”- Side Show
  • “You Matter To Me”- Waitress
  • “For Good”- Wicked
  • “I’ll Cover You”- Rent
  • “In A Crowd of Thousands”- Anastasia
  • “Under Pressure”- We Will Rock You
  • “This Is Life”- Bandstand
  • “Tonight”- West Side Story
  • “Forever Yours”- Once On This Island
  • “The I Love You Song”- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
  • “All I Ask of You”- Phantom of the Opera
  • “The Proposal/The Night Was Alive”- Titanic
  • “Now and For Always”- Lord of the Rings
  • “The World Will Remember Us”– Bonnie and Clyde
  • “At the Ballet”- A Chorus Line
  • “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”- Bat Out of Hell
  • “The Movie in My Mind”- Miss Saigon
  • “Lily’s Eyes”- The Secret Garden
  • “Wake Me Up When September Ends”- American Idiot
  • “Dangerous Game”- Jekyll and Hyde
  • “First Date/Last Night”- Dogfight

Favourite Group Numbers:

  • “Seasons of Love”- Rent
  • “It’s All Happening”- Bring It On
  • “96000”- In the Heights
  • “One Day More”- Les Miserables
  • “Letters”- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
  • “Once and For All”- Newsies
  • “Touch Me”- Spring Awakening
  • “Sunday”- Sunday in the Park With George
  • “Happiness”- You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
  • “It Sucks to Be Me”- Avenue Q
  • “Welcome to the Rock”- Come From Away
  • “Nobody”- Bandstand
  • “Finale”- From Here to Eternity
  • “The Flesh Failures/Eyes Look Your Last/Let the Sun Shine In”- Hair
  • “Alexander Hamilton”- Hamilton
  • “Epilogue: In Every Age (Reprise)/Finale”- Titanic
  • “Why We Tell the Story”- Once On This Island
  • “Tomorrow Is”- SpongeBob SquarePants
  • “You Will Be Found”- Dear Evan Hansen
  • “Revolting Children”- Matilda
  • “The Deal (No Deal)”- Chess (particularly the concert version)
  • “Hello”- The Book of Mormon
  • “Everybody’s Got the Right”- Assassins
  • “21 Guns”- American Idiot
  • “You Can’t Stop the Beat”- Hairspray

(It should go without saying that all of these lists are MY OPINION and are in to way definitive lists of ANY kind. It was just something fun for me to think about!)

I would love to hear what any of your favourite shows or musical theatre songs are! Let me know! (I’m always looking to expand my music library!)

They Tell the Story

And they tell it so well!

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After the BroadwayCon Closing Ceremony I made my way back to TKTS to get tickets to a Sunday night show, this time going in knowing and getting a ticket for my top choice: Once On This Island.

This show was very different from SpongeBob, but I also loved it, so much! Like SpongeBob I didn’t know the show going in to it. I was an Ahrens and Flaherty fan already (particularly Anastasia (movie and musical) and Rocky) but I wasn’t that familiar with this show that had been their Broadway debut. It also felt like a fitting show with which to end the day after attending the “Journey to the Island” panel at BroadwayCon and meeting Lynn Ahrens at the BroadwayCon Marketplace.

Once On This Island is playing at Circle in the Sqaure. I’ve seen one other show there (Godspell in 2012) and it was cool seeing the space with a different set up. It was still in the round but the space was completely transformed. While Godspell had a circular wooden stage, Once On This Island has a longer, oval, almost rectangular, shaped stage area with sand covering the floor and a pool of water at one end. I knew it was a versatile space but it was cool actually getting to experience it. Theatre in the round also always offers such a unique experience. You can’t help but notice the other audience members and you know that each seat in the theatre offers a different viewing experience. I would love to go back and see it again from a different spot (and just to see it again in general).

I am a fan of Michael Arden’s so I was really happy to actually see a show he directed and it was such a beautiful show. The set, the staging, the music, the lighting, it was all so good! I love when the movement of the set, and in the case of this show some of the lighting, is part of the performance. The actors moved set pieces, lit candles, created all these different moments. They’re telling this story and the way they set the scenes becomes a part of that.

One of my favourite scenes was with the song “Rain”  particularly the staging for “Rain.” The way they created the image of a car with the combination of individual pieces and the dramatic ending of the scene with the lighting and rain falling onto the stage. It was stunning. Each time I listen to the original cast recording I remember so many amazing moments, if I tried to write them out it would probably just end up as a description of the entire show!

Now let’s talk about this cast! The talent on that stage was amazing to witness. Hailey Kilgore was wonderful as Ti Moune (and she’s making her Broadway debut!). Isaac Powell is great as Daniel. The ensemble are all incredible. And the gods: Tamyra Grey as Papa Ge, Norm Lewis (who was actually my first Phantom) as Agwe, Alex Newell as Asaka and Lea Salonga as Erzulie. Wow! I’m so happy that I got to see Leas perform live! I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time and to even just be in the same room as her was amazing. Speaking of amazing, Alex Newell’s Asaka is incredible. I saw Alex sing “Mama Will Provide” twice that day, once at BroadwayCon and then during the show and it was outstanding both times (and there was a matinee between those too, so if he had to sing it three times that day, that is impressive!). The gods each brought such a commanding presence on the stage, even when they were just watching the scenes playing out before them (which makes sense since they are the gods) and just brought such strong performances all around.

It’s interesting going back and listening to the original cast recording, now being more familiar with the revival especially hearing the original Papa Ge and Asaka. Originally Papa Ge was played by a man (Eric Riley) whereas Tamyra Grey (and Merle Dandridge, whom Tamyra replaced due to a contractual leave) plays that character in the revival and Alex Newell (who is gender non-conforming) is playing Asaka, a part originally played by a woman (Kecia Lewis). I think that’s one of the great things about this revival, and theatre in general, the ability to switch things up and add new elements to the characters. There’s no reason why the “Demon of Death” can’t be played by a woman and the “Mother of the Earth” be played by someone who is gender non-conforming. And like I mentioned before, their performances are incredible!I cannot wait for the release of the revival cast recording later this month!!

If you get a chance I would highly recommend seeing this show and experiencing the beautiful storytelling that is brought to the stage.

You’ve also got to love a show that includes a chicken and goats in its cast!

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I’m so happy that both of the shows I saw on this trip are part of the current Broadway season. It’s going to make things even more exciting come Tony time!

Not A Simple Sponge (& Broadway Sessions)

I went in to SpongeBob with few, if any expectations. I had heard good things about the show so I hoped they were true but I certainly didn’t go in to it as a SpongeBob fan. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen a full episode of SpongeBob. I’ve seen clips, memes and have some familiarity with the characters, but a fan I was not. You might be wondering why, then, did I go see a SpongeBob musical if I didn’t care about SpongeBob? Well for one thing, as I mentioned, I had heard only good things about the show and then all of the clips I saw made it look really cool, with the set and the staging standing out. And the cast. I was familiar with some of the cast members already and those with whom I wasn’t familiar also seemed good. I was also intrigued knowing that so many artists had contributed to the music (I had not yet listened to the cast recording). I wanted to see what the hype was all about and, let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

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SpongeBob wasn’t technically our first choice of show to see. Initially we tried a few digital lotteries (HamiltonDear Evan HansenSweeney Todd, and, actually, SpongeBob). We did not win any of those so we went with plan B: TKTS. There we were deciding between Hello Dolly and SpongeBob. (2 very different shows!) We couldn’t decide between the two so we decided we’d go with whichever had cheaper tickets and then it turned out that Hello Dolly did not have two tickets together, so SpongeBob it was! And I have zero regrets.

Right off the bat you’re brought into the world of the musical with the design extending to the whole theatre. There’s the “Bikini Bottom Boutique” in the lobby, shiny/shimmering material covering the walls in the house, and ambient lighting filling the orchestra. As soon as you get to your seats you’re in Bikini Bottom.

The inclusion of the whole space even extends to the confetti cannons that are used in the show. Every time I’ve seen confetti used in a show, it’s at the front of the stage and the front half of the orchestra gets hit with it. Not at SpongeBob. They have confetti at the back of the orchestra too! We were sitting in row “T” and we were covered with confetti. (And, honestly, I was really happy about it!)

All of the design elements of the show were amazing. The set, the lighting, the costumes. It was just so good! I think it worked really well with the costumes not being literal representations of the original characters. Sandy doesn’t need a tail, SpongeBob doesn’t need to be square. You still get the picture and you believe it! The Squidward costume was really cool as he did have four legs. (I wonder how many prototypes they had to go though to get them to look and work just right!) And the fact that he has a full tap number with these extra legs/feet is even more impressive. It’s also just a really great number! Gavin Lee is amazing!

I also need to take a moment to talk about the Foley Design for this show. Yes, besides having a sound designer SpongeBob also has a Foley Designer who is creating all of the sound effects live in the theatre. And there are a lot of them! For example SpongeBob and Squidward both have sound effects when they walk, with each step. It adds to the cartoon-ish element of the show and enhances it in a great way! The cast talked about it a bit at their BroadwayCon panel and Lilli Cooper (Sandy) showed that “booth” in one of the vlogs she made for Broadway.com. The more I hear about it the more impressed and fascinated I am by it. I am so glad that it was announced that the Sound Designer (Walter Trarbach) and the Foley Designer (Mike Dobson) will be jointly eligible to be nominated for the Sound Design Tony! (Thank goodness that award is back!)

“(Just a) Simple Sponge” was one of the many stand out moments from the show. The staging was so simple (though complex in the choreography) but so beautiful. All of the elements- the song, the choreography, the lighting, the props (lots of sponges)- combined to make this great moment. And Ethan’s performance of the song was wonderful! There’s another moment with SpongeBob and a bunch of ladders that is a stand out scene, but I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t say any more about it! If you get the chance to see the show you’ll know what I’m talking about!

The role of SpongeBob seems like such a demanding one, vocally and physically and requires such high energy all the time. Ethan does an amazing job, and it’s his Broadway debut! I never thought I’d see a day when I would think someone playing SpongeBob SquarePants should be nominated for a Tony, but here we are. Seriously though, he better get a nomination!

The whole cast is amazing. I already mentioned Gavin Lee as Squidward. There’s Danny Skinner who is also making his wonderful Broaday debut as Patrick. Lilli Cooper plays an awesome Sandy. And there’s Wesley Taylor who plays Plankton. I was already a fan of his going in to the show and I’m even more of a fan now! He was so good! The rest of the cast too all brought amazing performances to the stage. I can’t get over how great it was!

I mentioned before that I was intrigued by the music for SpongeBob. I knew that a lot of artists had contributed to the score (and a lot of big names) so I was interested to see how it would all go together. It was clear that there were different styles to the music and for some songs it was obvious which artist had written that particular song, but even so, it still felt like a cohesive piece. All of the songs “fit” together in the show. Kudos to Tom Kitt for such an achievement! I’ve been listening to the cast recording almost constantly since seeing the show!

Even though I don’t watch the TV show and didn’t “get” all of the inside jokes (though I was aware of where they were in the show) I never really felt left out by it or like I was missing something, especially because they were funny moments anyway.

I’ve heard the word joy (and joyful) used to describe this show and it’s so true. It’s such a joyful show but at the same time it deals with some very relevant topics. It is by no means just a show for children, though children clearly enjoy it too (there were a lot of them in the audience that night and there was a really cute moment when you could hear one kid say “Yay!” when there was a pause in dialogue at a particularly happy moment). I do really think it’s a show that all ages and levels of SpongeBob fans can enjoy! It was such a fun night at the theatre and I’m so glad I had the chance to see it! (And I was able to check another Broadway theatre, the Palace Theatre, off my list!)

26993659_10159780334875262_2807368286443544769_n(Yes, I kept some of the confetti. Some of it on purpose, some of it not.)

Broadway Sessions

As a bonus after seeing SpongeBob we decided to attend Broadway Sessions at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. I had never been to a Broadway Sessions show before but was aware of it from social media and videos. Ben Cameron hosts these variety type shows every Thursday night and I am a big fan of his from BroadwayCon. When I was looking at things to do in New York I saw that they had a show when we were there, which just happened to be their first show back after a hiatus. And the SpongeBob cast was going to be there. After we bought our tickets for SpongeBob it felt even more fitting to check it out! So we bought our tickets online and after our time in Bikini Bottom we went over to the Laurie Beechman Theatre to keep the Broadway fun going. It was so much fun! I was so excited to finally be attending one of these shows and it was really fun seeing the cast we had just seen in another setting.  There were performances from cast members and a couple of the dressers from the show performed as well. There was also a performance from a kid in the audience who played piano and sang “(Just a) Simple Sponge” with Brian Ray Norris (Mr. Krabs) doing his part of the song and the rest of the cast singing back up. It was a wonderful moment! I had such a fun night and I hope I can go to another Broadway Sessions show in the future!