He may originally have lived in a pineapple under the sea, but right now, SpongeBob SquarePants is calling the Windy City home. The $18 million dollar question being shopped around is will there be an audience out there to support this new venture? Will Broadway sustain a full scale musical based on a (non-Disney) child’s cartoon? From what I saw on display, the answer is a decisive yes! The SpongeBob Musical is a wildly inventive, creatively structured, visually eye-popping, original new musical. Co-conceived and directed by one of Steppenwolf Theater’s favorites, Tina Landau, this joy-filled pre-Broadway tryout is on its way to becoming another family favorite destination for the Great White Way. Uniting the talented design teams behind recent hits Fun Home, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Spring Awakening, this time diving deep under the sea to bring to life the colorfully enchanting world of Bikini Bottom. With a quirky book written by Kyle Jarrow and music supervision from Tom Kitt, original songs contributed by The Flaming Lips, Cyndi Lauper, Steven Tyler, David Bowie, Panic! at the Disco, They Might Be Giants, Plain White T’s, Lady Antebellum, Sara Bareilles, Yolanda Adams, and more, the behind the scenes crew certainly is working energetically to make this concept work. The titular character, SpongeBob SquarePants, originally aired on Nickelodeon in July of 1999 to huge success, followed with a 2015 Paramount Pictures film which opened at number one, and subsequently, billions of dollars of SpongeBob merchandise has been sold all over the globe. This company is now hoping to translate that established brand to Broadway ticket sales with an optimistic attitude paralleled to their yellow hero.
Starring as the Nickelodeon modern-day cartoon classic central character, SpongeBob, is Ethan Slater, a remarkably agile and talented leading man. His arm sway by his sides while walking, cleverly mimicking the nuances of the cartoon, while making the part, squarely his own. Joining him on his adventure, best friend, Patrick (Danny Skinner) a dim witted starfish with a heart of gold, and the rest of the residents from Bikini Bottom, including restaurateur Eugene Krabs (Carlos Lopez) as well as the villainous, Sheldon Plankton (Nick Blaemire) and Karen the Computer (Stephanie Hsu). The story centers around a doomsday scenario, as the long dormant volcano, Mount Humongous, is set to erupt and wipe out all of Bikini Bottom. As the citizens panic, SpongeBob decides to utilize his “management stills” to save the town he loves. Enter Sandy Cheeks, the Squirrel (Lilli Cooper) a Texas-born scientist, currently doing her undersea exploration conveniently on the ocean floor. Inventing “The Eruptor Interrupter” can she, Patrick and SpongeBob save their fair city? A delightful marriage of teamwork, friendship, and science, there are jubilant and euphoric moments galore. Cyndi Lauper’s “Hero Is My Middle Name” and John Legend’s “(I Guess I) Miss You” are poignant soundtrack highlights.
Set and costume designer David Zinn’s crafted a fully functioning, life-sized, two story Mouse Trap-like contraption, erected on both sides of the stage, to represent the erupting volcano. The poor ushers had to work double-time preventing awestruck members of the audience from taking mid-show photos with their cell phones of this apparatus in action. Truly, this set must be personally seen to be believed and thoroughly appreciated. Mount Humongous is created using an intricate series of intertwining ladders and cardboard boxes. The muti-story set and remarkable projection design from Peter Nigrini are certain to be recognized at Tony Award-nomination time. Then there is the choreography. Christopher Gattelli’s full scale tap number in act two featuring Squidward Tentacles (Gavin Lee) the sardonic octopus, belting out They Might Be Giants “I’m Not A Loser” with a full chorus line of crustaceous in tow is, simply put, a show stopper. Mr. Lee and Mr. Gattelli are both on the road to Tony nods as well.
Whether you are a ardent fan of the cartoon, or a newcomer to this enchanting world, SpongeBob the Musical has a little something for everyone. The adults I was seated near enjoyed it as much as their children. The undeniable surface charm on triumphant display as joyous and exuberant as the character himself. As this is an out of town run, the only thing that needs additional attention before the New York opening is tweaking an anticlimactic ending. The story fizzles out when it should be at its most triumphant, the resolution here as satisfying as a metaphorical burp. That may work as closure for a cartoon on a television screen, but I craved more. At $100 plus a seat in a New York theater, so will that audience. Saving the cartoon’s signature theme song for curtain call is a way to make certain both the character, super fan, Patchy the Pirate (Jason Michael Snow) and the audience leaves with a smile. With a remarkably talented and diverse cast, dazzling visuals and great promise, The SpongeBob Musical is on its way to a successful Broadway run.
The SpongeBob Musical is now playing at the Oriental Theater through July 12, 2016
Indigenous Climate Warriors in Times Square
(Photo by Honor the Earth)
On Tuesday September 19, 2023, the Indigenous peoples took to the frontlines of the climate crisis on Turtle Island and took over Times Square painting a giant mural with the message, “No Green Colonialism; Land Back NOW!”
This mural came the day before the UN Climate Ambition Summit, where world leaders are expected to come together and make decisions around the climate crisis.
The Indigenous communities are organizing to push back on the Biden Administration’s push toward solutions to the climate crisis that threaten the lives of Indigenous people across Turtle Island, which they call “Green Colonialism.” “For too long, Native lands and communities have borne the brunt of harm from mining and other extractive industries. As the federal government moves to support clean energy development, this cannot come at the expense of clean water or Indigenous rights. This familiar assault on Native lands and communities is another wave of colonialism, and we will not stand by and allow our lands to be sacrificed,” Krystal Two Bulls, executive director of the national Indigenous organization Honor the Earth said in a press release.
We should all be fighting this fight!
White Wine for Summer Send Off
It is hard to believe that summer is officially wrapping up. But as days get shorter there is still plenty of time to toast the season in style with these favorite white wines.
This refreshing chardonnay crisp apple and crunchy peach flavors is electrifying and oh, so yummy! It brings out the feeling of velvet caressing you. This is simmply all of the best the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County has to offer.
Divinely balanced wine with zesty aromas and highlights of pink grapefruit, melon and gooseberry. It refreshing and perfectly sweet. Every sip will have you singing praises to the wonderful summer you just had.
Beatles Brunch at City Winery Where Strawberry Fields Lives Forever
I was taken to City Winery by Eli Marcus for the Beatles Brunch with Strawberry Fields.
This show plays every Sunday with an unlimited brunch buffet that includes coffee, tea and juice, starting at noon. A bottomless brunch cocktail package is also available and children get in free. Here tourists mingle with New Yorkers, eating scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, dried out French toast, spicy potatoes with onions and peppers, perfectly done chicken, salad and fresh fruit. What is so nice, is that everyone seems happy to to be here, to see and hear the Fab Four.
The show starts off without fan fare. The lights dim and four men enter, not quite looking like the originals. Tony Garofalo (John Lennon), Billy J. Ray (Paul McCartney), Ira Siegel (George Harrison), and Michael Bellusci (Ringo Starr) and their costumes and wigs have seen better days. Then the music starts. You can watch one of our video’s here.
From the early hits like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Ticket To Ride” “Eight Days A Week” and more the first act is nostalgia at it’s best. It was adorable to watch the audience, especially the young ones “Twist and Shout.”
After a break in came the Sergeant Pepper era, clothing and all. From that we got “Nowhere Man,” “My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “When I’m 64,” “Penny Lane” and songs that dig into your soul. They are done well and the Beatles live again. You can see our video here.
Then the later songs like “I Am The Walrus” and “Don’t Let Me Down” end a show that is almost two hour long of music, that is classic. I have to admit I wanted to hear “Blackbird” and “Norwegian Wood,” but what you get is a well rounded assortment of those songs that shaped several era’s.
Ira Siegel stands out with his guitar playing that is out of this world. I really loved all the songs he sang as well.
Michael Bellusci, gives Ringo a run for his money on the drums.
Tony Garofalo is the founder, creator and producer playing rhythm and lead guitar and singing lead vocals along with Alan LeBoeuf from the original Beatlemania playing bass guitar. Ray looks the most like the Beatle he is playing.
Strawberry Fields has been covering The Beatles for over three decades. They used to have a residency at B.B. Kings, but these days their home base is City Winery and it is definitely a great way to spend a Sunday. All four are consummate musicians and obviously have a love for what they do and that rubs off on their audience.
For a souvenir up a City Winery Strawberry Fields Rose Wine and have it signed by the cast. With its is its strawberry pink color, you get a combination of kiwi, watermelon and the taste of strawberry that lingers.
City Winery is right next to Little Island, Chelsea Market, The Highline, the Meatpacking district, Chelsea, and West Village. Everything is nearby to make a perfect outing for the whole day and this is one brunch where you definitely get your money’s worth. Click HERE for tickets
A Fun Night at Dave and Buster’s 42nd Street
Thank-you again to Eli Marcus and the staff of Dave and Buster’s, at 234 West 42nd Street.
Eli was sending the concierge’s to the show The Shark Is Broken.
There were lots of new friends to be made such as Carol Mennie, Caroline Rosado from the Hilton, Dinnella Collado from the Washington Square Hotel, Benjamin Maddy from Dave and Buster’s and Michaela Paratore of Benjamin Steakhouse Prime
This destination for sports enthusiasts, foodies, and arcade offers space, fun and some fabulous happy hour deals.
All across the multiple screens were football, basketball, and hockey games from across the sporting world. At the sports bar an impressive selection of drinks, including craft beers, signature cocktails await. I sampled some their tasty bites and was impressed.
To sooth your inner child air hockey and arcade games are waiting to be played.
If you are looking for entertainment they have a legendary Trivia Night with fantastic prizes.
This is actually a great place to throw your holiday parties.
I am so glad the Mayor of Times Square invited me to his event.
We’re Here to Help – When Guardianship Goes Wrong
-Kent Walz, attorney & journalist
Diane Dimond’s book on the scourge of abusive adult guardianships is coming out very soon. It only took her 8 long years of investigation and countless interviews with affected people to get to the bottom of this extremely flawed part of the justice system.
People who have lived through this nightmare knows first hand what this “protective” part of the court system can do to rip apart families. But because it’s such a secretive system few Americans realize that they – or someone they love – could be guardianized without warning. It’s not just Britney Spears – up to 2 million people currently live under guardianship/court control.
All it takes is for someone (a vindictive relative, a greedy business partner, a former lover, even a landlord) to file a guardianship petition with the court saying someone is not competent to care for themselves. The judge usually agrees – often without ever seeing the targeted person – and the guardianship is established. Judges routinely appoint a total stranger as guardian to make all life decisions for the new “ward of the court.” All their civil rights are stripped away and, suddenly, the person has no say in their own life –they can’t even hire their own lawyer to fight it. There are many more horrific aspects to this “justice” system and Ms. Dimond spells it all out in the book.
We’re Here to Help – When Guardianship Goes Wrong not only reveals the predatory nature of the system (which controls a collective $50 billion in ward’s money every year!) but also tells what to look out for. It provides a guide for readers to protect themselves and those they love.
Diane Dimond is the author of four books including the upcoming, “We’re Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong,“ published by Brandeis University Press, released Sept. 19, 2023
Ken Fallin's Broadway17 hours ago
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Dracula: A Comedy Of Terror
Events17 hours ago
The Argyle Theatre Encore! Gala and You Are There
Out of Town17 hours ago
The Innocence of Seduction Will Seduce You
Out of Town17 hours ago
“speaking of sneaking” Spins It’s Queer Folktale Web Fascinatingly at Buddies In Bad Times Toronto
Uncategorized15 hours ago
The Pepsi 125 Diner
Broadway4 days ago
Theatre News: Wicked, The Wiz, Hypnotique, Female Troubles and Love In The Time Of Crazy
Food and Drink3 days ago
White Wine for Summer Send Off
Out of Town2 days ago
Loving the Love of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at the Stratford Festival, Canada