If you missed “The Spongebob Musical” during its initial Broadway run, fear not as it makes its way to a city near you. The animated show about a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea is embarking on a 45-city tour around the nation, and New England’s own Morgan Blanchard, who plays Patchy the Pirate, aka Spongebob’s number 1 fan, filled us in on all the details.
First off, the show isn’t just for the Nickelodeon crowd. Blanchard said the cast jokes that the show is so great “you can even bring your kids.” Not only is the 12-time Tony-nominated musical packed with catchy songs from superstars like Sara Bareilles, David Bowie, Panic! at the Disco and over a dozen other artists, but songs like John Legend’s “(I Guess) I Miss You” is a magical, moving duet by Squidward and Spongebob that you probably don’t expect from a musical based on a frenetic kid’s cartoon.
Plus, Blanchard added that the show includes timely themes like inclusivity and coming together. While these are amazing universal themes for any show, what’s great is that this is the first exposure to theater for many kids (the built-in fan base of the cartoon), and they'll leave with a positive message.
“It’s something really special to be a part of and to witness,” Blanchard said. As Patchy, Spongebob’s official cheerleader, he gets a bird’s eye view of the smallest guests as he roams the audience before the show.
"Spongebob" is Blanchard’s second national tour, the first being last year's “The Sound of Music,” in which he was a member of the ensemble. After graduating from Ithaca College in New York, he’s been traveling around the country and will mark a visit to all 48 contiguous states by the time the tour wraps next summer.
Though he’s excited to make it back to his home in Boston, where his love of theater began with a trip to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the Boch Center - Wang Theater (the same venue he will be performing "Spongbob" at), he’s also especially loved visiting Kansas City, Miss., Madison, Wis. and San Antonio, Texas. He's looking forward to seeing Los Angeles for the first time.
So how, exactly, how does one prepare to be Patchy, a pirate from Encino? Blanchard said director Tina Landau, who has been "a dream to work with," has given the cast creative freedom beyond what was seen in the cartoon or on Broadway. She has guided them “to make choices and find out more about the character each day.” For Blanchard, that included immersing himself in pirate lingo and history.
As for getting your kids interested in theater, Blanchard encourages parents to instill a love of the arts in their children by taking them to as many things as possible, just as his parents did. He feels that theater can provide kids with so much more than just an appreciation for the arts.
"You can learn so much just by going to see a show, and the arts tell you a lot about what is going on in our world in that certain moment," he told Dailybreak. "'Spongebob' is so incredibly relevant. I think in terms of bringing your kids to theater, it will introduce them to what’s happening in a way that’s hopefully useful and informative."
As such a top-notch production that appeals to so many, it’s a perfect night out for the whole family.
“It is written for everyone,” Blanchard said. Apparently, that goes for kids, adults, sea creatures and pirates, too!
“The Spongebob Musical" is touring now. Get your tickets before they disappear faster than a hot Krabby Patty.
What's a fun way to inspire a love for the arts with kids?