It’s the “Best Day Ever” at The SpongeBob Musical with the Slow Burn Theatre Company

Marc Christopher, Domonique Kempf and Anthony Llerandi in The SpongeBob Musical presented by the Slow Burn Theatre Company. Photo by Larry Marano

By Britin Haller

You absolutely don’t have to be a SpongeBob SquarePants fan to appreciate or even fall in love with Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical from the Slow Burn Theatre Company, now running through June 23rd at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Resident director Patrick Fitzwater has done it again with an immensely entertaining show that is also full of a huge amount of heart.

Based on the popular animated TV series now in its 15th season, The SpongeBob Musical follows the lives of the residents of an underwater town called Bikini Bottom, of which SpongeBob (hereafter to be known as just Bob) is our hero.

Lauren Horgan and Alexander Blanco in The SpongeBob Musical presented by the Slow Burn Theatre Company. Photo by Larry Marano

Bob is a yellow sea-sponge (Aplysina fistularis) who works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab crab shack and has visions of management, but his boss, Eugene Krabs, thinks Bob is “just a simple sponge” and doesn’t have what it takes.

Bob lives in a pineapple with his pet snail, Gary, and is usually seen in the company of his friends, Patrick the starfish and Sandy Cheeks the squirrel, a “land mammal” who survives underwater by wearing a diving suit. Bikini Bottom, like any town, is full of many interesting characters, some good, some evil, and some in-between.

The story opens as the residents are enjoying a “Bikini Bottom Day,” and are out in full swing and regalia in a visually stunning number that can only adequately be described as a Crayola box on acid. And don’t worry, cartoon fans, because all your favorites are here.

Suddenly, all heck, and mass terror and pandemonium, breaks loose when a nearby volcano named Mount Humongous threatens to explode. Meanwhile…someone…(rival restaurant owner Sheldon Plankton) hatches an evil plan. Plankton convinces the town to purchase an escape pod to get them all away to safety quickly, but little do the residents know once they are inside, Plankton will hypnotize them into eating at his restaurant, the Chum Bucket.

Brian Klimowski and the cast of The SpongeBob Musical presented by the Slow Burn Theatre Company. Photo by Larry Marano

That’s the extent of this madman’s evil plan apparently.

Never mind they can’t eat there if the volcano erupts reigning down hot lava and destroying their fair village including his restaurant, but we digress…and it’s no matter. Just go with it.

The creatures of the town have a meeting during which the mayor says funds are low, so in order to purchase this pod, they decide to let Squidward the octopus spearhead a benefit concert. But Bob and Sandy don’t want to leave their home forever, so Sandy devises a device to counteract the volcano’s eruption. Now the only problem is they have to climb to the top of the mountain and throw it in.

And just when Bob needs Patrick (his BFF forever) the most, Patrick is recruited as an unlikely savior to a group calling themselves The Sardines, the best friends have a silly “Fine!” fight causing Patrick to storm off, and Bob and Sandy must go it alone.

Anthony Llerandi in The SpongeBob Musical presented by the Slow Burn Theatre Company. Photo by Larry Marano

As SpongeBob SquarePants, Anthony Llerandi is a perfect blend of Pee Wee Herman and Stuart Smalley. Performing karate chops like Barney Fife, and pushing Sandy to get back up when she gets down, Bob is the unlikely champion we all need. In the extraordinary hands of Llerandi, Bob’s hero journey is relatable, awe-inspiring, and just plain fun.

His partner in crime is Dominique Kempf as Sandy the squirrel who is fighting for a town who hasn’t even accepted her as their own yet. Kempf’s best moment is the twisting and turning “Chop to the Top” where she and Llerandi battle the mountain, and their own self-doubt, to get to the summit.

Nate Promkul and Natasha Ricketts are always good for a laugh as the purple-sequin-suited television newscaster Perch Perkins and the always ready for a good time Mrs. Puff. Promkul excels in his doom and gloom number “No Control.”

Ryan Crout in The SpongeBob Musical presented by the Slow Burn Theatre Company. Photo by Larry Marano

Ryan Crout is Eugene Krebbs, and he’s everything we want him to be. He wears boxing gloves for hands and walks sideways like a crab, and he loves owning the “finest eating establishment ever established.” He’s not all his daughter Pearl wants him to be though as she just wants a father to love her more than the money he makes. As Pearl, Nayomi Braaf hits all the right notes in “Daddy Knows Best.” Literally. Her voice is phenomenal.

Alexander Blanco as Sheldon Planton couldn’t be any more gloriously evil if he tried, shining maniacally in “When the Going Gets Tough.” Lauren Horgan, as his wife Karen the Computer, is the Miss Teschmacher to his Lex Luther. Her eyeshadow glitters like her sexy catsuit. No wonder Plankton is enthralled with her. “I love it when you’re alliterate,” she tells him. These two get turned on by the weirdest things, but it’s all done in fun, and totally kid-friendly.

As the infinitely hungry starfish Patrick, Marc Christopher is an obvious crowd favorite from the moment he appears. Christopher has an angelic voice, and his ode to his buddy duet with the equally talented Llerandi “(I Guess I) Miss You” is lovely and chill-inducing. He and Llerandi exchange friendship bracelets during the adorable “BFF” tune, and along with Llerandi and Kempf, Christopher is one third of the fabulous call to duty “Hero is My Middle Name” rally song.

Marc Christopher and the cast of The SpongeBob Musical presented by the Slow Burn Theatre Company. Photo by Larry Marano

And there is absolutely no one still sitting still in their seat when Christopher and The Sardines take us to church with their tambourines in the soul-stirring “Super Sea-Star Savior.” Whew. Try saying that five times.

But winning the ‘you have to see it to believe it’ award goes to Brian Klimowski as Squidward Q. Tentacles. Until you’ve witnessed a four-legged octopus tap dance like his life depends on it, you’ve never really seen tap dancing, and along with the Sea Anemones, Klimowski’s performance of “I’m Not a Loser” is worth the price of admission alone.

The SpongeBob Musical, is a visual (those jellyfish! Mount Humongous!) and auditory wonder thanks largely in part to Kalista Curbelo, Nicolette Quintero, Reynel Reynaldo, Timothy S. Dickey, Clifford Spulock, Kacey Koploff, Matthew W. Korinko, Jolie Rubinchik, Nicole Alcaro, Tyler Johnson Grimes, and last, but certainly not least, Costume Designer Rick Pena and Musical Director Eden Marte. For two plus hours, we really feel part of Bikini Bottom’s world under the sea.

And about that volcano…

Will Bob and Sandy get to the opening of it in time? Will Patrick come to his senses and go looking for them? Will Sandy’s device work and save all of Bikini Bottom before the Doomsday Clock runs out, thereby eradicating the need for the escape pod, and thwarting Planton’s evil plan to serve a Chum Burger to everyone?

The cast of The SpongeBob Musical presented by the Slow Burn Theatre Company. Photo by Larry Marano

The opening night mostly all-adult audience was on the edge of their seats waiting to find out. Two grown male friends wore SpongeBob t-shirts, and one guy carried a SpongeBob doll everywhere, even taking photos of it around the theatre. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Take the youngsters if you have them, but go without if you don’t, because this is definitely one for kids of all ages.

These were some serious cult-like fans for sure, but the beautiful part is even if you’ve never seen one single episode of the hit TV series, and you can’t tell a yellow SpongeBob from a Pikachu, you will adore this production. It makes you feel young again, and as the musical’s publicity tells us, “Be there AND be square!” Get there early for the pre-show fun.

In the end, The SpongeBob Musical proves that faith in your friends, and a belief in yourself, will get you everywhere and may even save the day. So, grab your pineapple inner tubes, and your yellow SpongeBob t-shirts, and dive into The SpongeBob Musical before it floats away for good.

Britin Haller is an editor for the Turner Publishing Company. Her latest project is the novel Dumpster Dying by Michelle Bennington – available where books are sold. Find Britin across social media and at           

Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical from the Slow Burn Theatre Company plays through Sunday, June 23rd, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 1 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Running time approx. 150 minutes includes a 15-minute intermission. Tickets starting at $29 for students and teachers, $54 for general admission. Call Ticketmaster at 954-462-0222 or visit