As a veteran viewer of Bob the Builder, Postman Pat and Balamory children's TV series, I somehow missed out on SpongeBob Squarepants. 

So I was curious to find out what all the fuss was about when a touring production of The SpongeBob Musical arrived at the New Theatre on Wednesday.

While the popular kids' TV show launched in 1999, Nickleodeon waited until 2015 to launch a brand new musical version of the adventures of everyone's favourite sponge.

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The original production opened in Chicago in 2016, and since then different interpretations have been produced around the world, before this UK premiere tour.

Oxford Mail: Lewis Cornay as SpongeBob Squarepants

The plot of this musical is quite simple and should have been easy to follow for everyone in the audience including the children, who enjoyed the slightly earlier than usual performance start time of 7pm.

When the citizens of Bikini Bottom discover that a volcano will soon erupt and destroy their humble home, SpongeBob and his friends must come together to save the fate of their undersea world.

With lives hanging in the balance and all hope lost, a most unexpected hero rises up.

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Lewis Cornay sang beautifully and played SpongeBob with such infectious enthusiasm that the positive vibe appeared to spread throughout the cast.

Oxford Mail: Chrissie Bhima as Sandy Cheeks

Chrissie Bhima as Sandy Cheeks and Sarah Freer as Pearl Krabs were also outstanding among the ensemble of young actors.

Gareth Gates, runner-up in the first series of Pop Idol in 2001/2, got stuck in as one of the leading roles, Squidward Q Tentacles, coping well with his complicated costume featuring a pair of four-legged trousers.

He was joined by Divina De Campo, a finalist from Ru Paul's Drag Race UK.

Oxford Mail:

The SpongeBob Musical is based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg, written by Kyle Jarrow and conceived by Tina Landau.

It features original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s and They Might Be Giants.

There are additional songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley, with lyrics by Jonathan Coulton and music by Tom Kitt.

Oxford Mail: The Spongebob cast

Poor Pirates was one of the best tunes in the show, and after the interval the action centred on SpongeBob and his assistants trying to reach the volcano.

Some clever stagecraft was needed to move SpongeBob and Sandy Cheeks around on two very large sets of steps as they got near their destination.

The SpongeBob Musical was a very enjoyable show, featuring a talented cast dressed in ridiculously colourful costumes.

Perhaps Gareth Gates could have been given a few more numbers to sing after selling more than five million records worldwide but it was such a lively performance all round it really didn't matter.

The show runs until Saturday.

Andy Ffrench


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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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