“Standing Ovation”—Two words to describe HHS Theatre’s production of The SpongeBob Musical


Photo courtesy of Jason Aguila

Gabriella Albanese, Elizabeth Beder, Charlee McLaughlin, and Marissa Niro perform “Bikini Bottom Boogie” during act two.

Kristen Caruso, School News Editor

Friday, February 26 was opening night for HHS Theatre’s production of The Spongebob Musical. While every high school production showcases the many impressive talents of its young performers, this one particularly blew everyone out of the water.

The production and lobby team are to thank for the magical, immersive environment that was created. Putting in hours and hours of work, the auditorium entrance was transformed into the Bikini Bottom spirit. All of the lobby attendants wore Hawaiian shirts, an under-the-sea photo-op decorated a once dull wall—even the bathroom signs were festive, reading “Mermaids” and “Mermen.”

Inside the auditorium, the iconic SpongeBob flowers adorned the walls, and the set took the original style of the animated series and mixed it with the creativity and originality of the set designers. The set also incorporated ramps on either side, a ladder, and a slide which were all used throughout the performance.

Spongebob Squarepants actress Samantha Soybel embodied the optimism and abundance of energy of the character with every song, laugh, and joke. With her astronaut suit and country euphemisms, Elizabeth LeBoeuf portrayed Sandy Cheeks perfectly, right up to her space buns.

Also starring in the musical are a few familiar faces: Falcon Burns, the leading actor of the fall play Puffs, turned in his wizarding wand for a pink wig and floral swim trunks to play the fan-favorite Patrick Star. Playing the humorous and interactive Patchy the Pirate was Char Griffin (previously Voldy in Puffs), once again showcasing her talent for character voices. Mia Hausser portrayed Karen the Computer, and paired with Brandon Havier as Plankton, recreated the perfect villainous couple. Mr. Krabs was played by Thomas Frazzetto, who matched the greed and iconic laugh of the character.

While the entirety of the musical was a vibrant masterpiece, it was the little details, jokes, and characters that made it so. Or in some cases, a solo or two. By far the most pleasant surprise was Ellie Beder as Pearl. While Beder did not act in the fall play, she was the Assistant Director, one of few students chosen for theatre leadership roles. Once again Ellie Beder had a leadership role, becoming the Student Director. But on the musical stage, she shined. As Pearl, Beder enraptured the audience with her stunning vocals, elevating the already highly talented cast to a whole new level.

The saying “there are no small roles” was proven by this show. Characters like the security guards (Asher Lindsey, Fred Gordon), news reporter Perch Perkins (Asher Lindsey), Krabby Patty Fish and Gary (Connor Oranchak), the Electric Skates (Gabriella Albanese, Charlee McLaughlin, Marisa Niro), Mayor of Bikini Bottom (Mai An Le), and more added to the show’s personality and humor. Each performance, the actors of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy were changed, alternating between faculty members throughout the school district, including even Dr. Joseph Trybalski, the principal of Hillsborough Middle School.

The dance team, captained by juniors Gretchen Almendinger and Erin Rawles, reflected the story and mood of the story into motion. It was especially fitting during the emotional “(I Guess I) Miss You” musical number, where they also wore some of the most intricate costumes of the show. Easily the most enrapturing of the musical numbers was Squidward’s (Ben Malone) solo: “I’m Not a Loser,” where a dynamic (and sparkly orange) tap routine broke out. Malone, who perfectly embodied the pessimistic character throughout the entire show, dazzled the crowd with his solo number. Squidward, a character known for being a clarinet player, had a musical solo, in which clarinet players Luke Carlsen and Jonathan Miller shined in the pit.

Excellently portraying the music, the pit orchestra was comprised of some of HHS’s best musicians, conducted by Ciji Coates, who participated in the musical itself when they broke the fourth wall. Drummers Adam Sutton and Colin Witheridge sported festive yellow sunglasses atop their heads throughout the entire performance.

The sound effects and lighting were crucial to the success of the play. During the tremors in which the characters lost their balance, the lighting on the stage turned from its usual bright white to a sinister red, and the overhead lights of the auditorium took on a strobe effect. The squishing of tentacles and the clack of crab claws brought the characters to life, thanks to the sound effect team.

Despite the musical’s humor and light atmosphere, it also dove into some deeper themes such as xenophobia, greed, the untrusting of government in times of crisis, self-confidence, and friendship.

While the musical featured iconic moments from the animated series, you didn’t have to have seen a single episode to enjoy it.

March 5 was the final performance of The SpongeBob Musical, but the spirit had not diminished, selling out seats and having to turn people away at the door, which HHS Theatre Director Ms. Nicky Malone noted before the show was sad but exciting for the cast and crew.

Overall, HHS Theatre’s production of The SpongeBob Musical was not just a musical dynamic in its own right but oozed with the enthusiasm, creativity, and energy of the students and staff who made it truly amazing.