Come for a Pineapple Under the Sea, Stay for an Amazing Performance

Luca DiGregorio, Staff Writer

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, it would take a thousand pictures to even come close to describing Highland’s SpongeBob the Musical. I’ve seen the show four times, and still can’t believe the exquisite performance that Highland’s theatre department delivered.  

I’ll admit, the name threw me off at first. I, like many, was worried it would have a cartoonish quality to it. It did not. Under the eloquent mask of saving the world, the cast manages to address many real-world problems that plague our society. Sandy Cheeks, played by Eleanor Scoville, is discriminated against because she is different from the other inhabitants of Bikini Bottom.  

Squidward Tentacles, acted by Sebastien Green, suffers from horrible depression and feelings of underachievement. Mr. Krabs, played by Tate Nichols, exploits a horrible situation for his own financial gain. His daughter, Pearl Krabs, played by Annika Boman, just wants to make her father proud. Patrick Starr, played by Rowan Jackson, wants desperately to be respected and listened to by someone. And then there’s SpongeBob. Optimistic SpongeBob SquarePants. SpongeBob wants to move up in the world, desperately desiring to be respected and not seen as just a simple sponge, which is masterfully captured by Annie Pasmann.  

Although SpongeBob is a children’s character, its themes and overall messaging apply to a much older audience as well. This is captured in an iconic quote from Squidward: “The world is a horrible place filled with fear, suffering and despair. Also dashed hopes, shattered dreams, broken promises, and abject misery.”  

The real world is a scary place. As the musical shows, people are cruel. They are bigoted, ignorant, and downright mean. Sandy is violently threatened because she is different than everyone else and they are scared and need a scapegoat. Far too often this happens in our world. Minorities are discriminated against because fear is pervasive. It seeps through the cracks in our society until it devours us. And then we blame. We spread fear because spreading fear is easier than stopping it. And it leads to truly awful moments in history. Yet SpongeBob, despite being based on a children’s cartoon, expertly shows that giving into fear is hurting everyone, and that while difficult, it is absolutely necessary to stop hatred when you see it. 

Hatred is not the only element of the real world that the play depicts. As so perfectly demonstrated in Squidward, many people have shattered dreams and dashed hopes. They are led into pits of deep sorrow that only those who also have their life’s dreams dashed against a rock by heartless humans truly understand. 

But cruelties and sorrow are joined by trust and the meaning of friendship to create a nuanced performance. The musical shows how SpongeBob and Patrick have a true friendship, they are like two peas in a pod. They are there for each other until the end. Until one of Patrick’s lifelong dreams of being respected comes true. He gains a following. And when forced to choose which to keep, he chooses his cult, where he is their leader. Suddenly, SpongeBob and Sandy are forced to try and stop their town from being destroyed alone. And they struggle, because one of the cogs that makes the wheel turn is suddenly taken out.  

It’s only later, after one of the best songs in the musical, that Patrick realizes that a true friend like SpongeBob is infinitely better than followers who aren’t really there for him. And so he leaves. He flies back to meet SpongeBob and Sandy to help them save their town from annihilation. But Patrick is lucky. Often in our cruel world we don’t get a second chance when we abandon close friends. Often, we not only lose them but also lose a cog necessary for our own wheel to turn. 

Even as the world is ending, SpongeBob manages to remain optimistic. Even in the face of immense social pressure and the sheer impossibility of saving the world, SpongeBob is able to remain optimistic. It’s his optimism that saves the day. Maybe, just maybe, we should take a page from his book. If we tried to see the bright side of things and the best in people, maybe we would live in a better world. Maybe if we came together not as enemies but as friends, maybe if we lived in harmony, maybe the world would be a decent place to live in. 

SpongeBob the Musical is extraordinary. The only real way to experience the magic is to see it yourself. Besides the amazing talent stuffed into the show, the singing was absolutely phenomenal. I literally got shivers down my spine at times because I was so blown away by the musical talent. And speaking of musical talent, let’s not forget Highland’s band. They were crucial in turning SpongeBob into a living, breathing masterpiece. Without them, no talent in the world would have given it so much Highland spirit. And let’s not overlook the stage crew. Often delegated some of the more difficult tasks, like making sure every prop, wall, and accessory was working in tip-top shape and running without a hitch, SpongeBob the Musical was brought to life through the combination of every amazing branch of Highland’s performing arts. 

The more I see this show, the more I love it. I went four times and found something new that blew me away at each showing. The acting is phenomenal. The singing, out of this world. Each and every cast member has worked their tails off to pull off this show. And each drop of blood, sweat and tears has led to one of the best plays I’ve seen this year.  

The world is a cruel place. But it’s also filled with wonder and joy. SpongeBob the Musical magically brings these truths of life into the limelight. Maybe, if we all came together, we could make every day the best day ever.