SpongeBob SquarePants musical to open on Broadway this fall

Jennifer Love Hewitt at the World Premiere of "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood in 2014.

LOS ANGELES — Bikini Bottom hits Broadway
later this year, when “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the stage musical
that premiered in Chicago in 2016 as “The SpongeBob Musical,”
opens at the Palace Theater in December.The show, the first big Broadway bet for Nickelodeon as a
lead producer, will bring with it the work of an unusual
collection of well-known music acts that have each written a
tune for the show. Aeromith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry,
John Legend, Sara Bareilles, Panic! at the Disco, T.I., The
Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper and They Might Be
Giants are among the names that have contributed to the score.The “SpongeBob” booking pushes back the ambitious renovation
plans that at some point in the future will take the Palace
Theater out of commission for three years. The exact reasons for
the delay aren’t yet clear.The hit animated series that inspired the “SpongeBob
SquarePants” musical can lay claim to a sweeping fanbase of all
ages. The second feature film based on the property, “The
SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” was the top-grossing film
the weekend it opened.Still, getting those crowds to turn up on Broadway will
likely require a canny marketing push by producers. Even with a
new title more directly in line with the TV show, the show’s
translation of a surreal animated world — in which human actors
play deep-sea creatures without the benefit of puppets — could
prove a hurdle for potential ticket buyers to wrap their heads
around.The show’s storyline, in a book written by Kyle Jarrow,
centers on a volcano that threatens the undersea town of Bikini
Bottom and everyone who lives in it. The lead players in the
Chicago cast will remain intact for Broadway, with Ethan Slater,
playing the chipper sponge of the title, leading an ensemble that
also includes Gavin Lee, Lilli Cooper and Danny Skinner. Tina
Landau helms a creative team of Broadway regulars that includes
music supervisor Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”) and choreographer
Christopher Gatelli.Produced by Nickelodeon with the Araca Group, Sony Music
Masterworks and Kelp on the Road, “SpongeBob SquarePants” begins
previews Nov. 6 ahead of a Dec. 4 opening.