Grain Valley High School Theatre Department will present The SpongeBob Musical March 30 – April 1 at the Jerry Mueller Performing Arts Theatre at Grain Valley High School (GVHS).
The SpongeBob Musical is based on the beloved animated series created by Stephen Hillenburg and features a book by Kyle Jarrow, with original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alexander Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and T.I., and songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley.
GVHS Theatre Director John O'Neil said the "it's a big, fun musical show, and one of the biggest we've ever attempted."
"It's a very collaborative show in a lot of ways. Each of the songs in the show is written by a different musical artist, as opposed to one composer and one lyricist."
The show follows the characters as the town of Bikini Bottom is facing an apocalyptic threat from a volcano threatening to destroy the town.
"The characters are trying to figure out how to survive under these circumstances. Some of the characters have more evil methods of trying to survive. Other characters have more pure hearted ways. I really think it feels very relevant to me. It feels very similar to what we all faced in the pandemic. Are we going to survive this? What's the best solution? Who do we turn to in these times to lead us? Are we scapegoating people who are different than us? It handles all those themes very lightly while also touching on themes of friendship," O'Neil said.
As the group enters its final week of rehearsals before the show, O’Neil said he has been very impressed with their dedication and talent.
“Our props and set building crew has worked overtime on this show. The amount of work they have done on this show has been incredible. Everything you see on stage has been created by our students. All of our seniors involved in this show have just done an incredible job. I am going to be really sad to see this group go.”
Senior Katie Hobbs plays SpongeBob SquarePants in the show, and says that SpongeBob’s character embodies the importance of self-confidence.
“He struggles a lot with who he is, what he is good at. All he really knows is he’s a fry cook. Throughout the show, he proves to himself that you can do whatever you put your mind to,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs said the cast and crew have worked really well together, and said one of her favorite scenes is also one of the most technically complex.
“I’ve really enjoyed working on the volcano scenes. We have scaffolding that spins, and it’s been fun to work with the tech crew on these scenes.”
Hobbs said her time in theatre has improved her public speaking skills, given her more confidence, and she plans to put these skills to work as she moves on to college.
Hobbs plans to attend Metropolitan Community College (MCC) after high school to complete her associate degree, taking advantage of the A+ program and then plans to transfer to KU to study biology to pursue a career as a geneticist.
Junior Autumn Ferrante serves as Technical Director for the show, and oversees all the technical aspects of the show from set design and production to moving sets and props on stage. Ferrante agrees with Hobbs that theatre has helped her confidence and social skills.
“My freshman year I was very introverted and didn’t really talk to anyone. I went to theatre just to step out of my comfort zone. I got to meet a lot of new people, grew my social skills and my confidence,” Ferrante said.
Tickets for SpongeBob the Musical are going fast, and can be purchased in advance at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/71339. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
“It’s a really fun show and will be a fun night out,” Ferrante said.
Senior Katie Hobbs (left) plays SpongeBob SquarePants and junior Autumn Ferrante is the Technical Director in charge of designing and building the set and all of the technical details on show nights. Photo credit: Valley News staff