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An 8-year-old reviews ‘The SpongeBob Musical for Young Audiences’ at First Stage

Three young actors in colorful costumes stand on top of a box while singing on stage.
Paul Ruffolo
First Stage
(From left) Gavin Miller, Gracie Halverson and Natalie Ortega in First Stage's adaptation of "The SpongeBob Musical."

After his review of The Hobbit, First Stage invited our young theater critic back for its current show, The SpongeBob Musical for Young Audiences. Here’s what he thought about the production. And also the snacks.

First Stage is doing the SpongeBob Musical, and it's now through April 2. Me and my dad have gone to the musical, and we thought it was really good, so we are going to share it today.

First, we are going to start with the scenery. There was like this thing they did with the lights that made it look like there's waves above you so it makes it feel like you're underneath the ocean. They also used pool noodles to make seaweed and also little parts of it like chopped up, and it made it look like barnacles. They made a big Easter Island head, and it kind of reminded me of Night at the Museum, and there's also the big pineapple that was really cool.

The second reason is that the play people, the actors, had to be evil and funny and really pretend to be smart and also a little dramatic. They were very good at doing lots of different emotions. The music was really happy and also really like they were desperate for something at some parts. They did really well singing, and it sounded like they practiced every day.

The lessons were: never give up on your dreams and work hard toward your dreams. And I think that lesson is really good for young kids who don't know that yet. Also, the food was really good at the play, and there was really good cookies and Rice Krispie squares, which I took home and still haven’t eaten.

I felt really excited to be at the musical, and it was a really exciting play to go to. I think it's good for young kids because it is really funny, and my dad also went to the play and he's not a young person and he liked it too.

— Calvin Krzykowski (age 8)

Yes, the grown-up liked it too

Speed agree with everything our main theater critic said above, with the exception of the food, which I can’t really speak to because someone didn’t feel like sharing. The whole thing was just plain fun, and I would’ve enjoyed it even without my kid alongside. Would it have felt a little odd sitting alone? Sure. But still fun.

The sets were fun and immersive. The songs were fun and well performed. The cast was incredibly fun and seemed to be enjoying the heck out of themselves. Among the youngsters, Gracie Halverson (SpongeBob) and Gavin Miller (Patrick) brought the right amount of goofiness, and Natalie Ortega (Sandy) provided a heap of pathos as Bikini Bottom’s punching bag/savior.

But my personal MVP was Doug Clemens from the adult performers. I can’t think of too many lines he delivered as Squidward that didn’t get a laugh, and I believe the term “showstopper” was invented specifically to describe performances like his rendition of “I’m Not a Loser.”

If a tap-dancing cephalopod isn’t enough to convince you to see this, I’m not sure what will. Rice Krispie squares maybe?

The SpongeBob Musical for Young Audiences runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through April 2 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater. There’s a “Pay What You Choose” performance this Friday, March 10, a sensory-friendly performance March 18 and a sign-language interpreted performance April 2. Tickets and more information are available on the First Stage website.