SpongeBob the Musical
The fun musical production Spongebob recently played at the Regal Theatre in Perth with two Santa Maria alumni taking part.
Ciara Sadler (2020) was in the ensemble and understudy for one of the lead roles – Sandy Cheeks, while Maddie Moulin (2015) was co-musical director and in the orchestra.
The girls share their experiences with us below.
I knew about the SpongeBob musical when it first premiered on Broadway, but I didn’t take it very seriously. I had grown up watching the show, and I knew it to be very silly and childish. However, when I saw the auditions advertised, I jumped at the opportunity as I thought it would be an exciting project to be a part of. As I prepared for my audition and learnt the songs, I realised how fun and innovative the music was. I have many happy childhood memories attached to SpongeBob, and I thought being a part of this production would be a fun escape from my adult reality, where I could be myself and reconnect to my childhood.
I have worked with members of the production team in previous shows and jumped at the opportunity to be on their team again. Funnily enough, I had never heard the music for the show before saying yes to it – luckily, it’s a fun and versatile score that I had so much fun with!
I was given the opportunity to understudy one of the lead roles, Sandy Cheeks. This was a new and challenging experience for me. I enjoyed observing and learning from Taylor Westland, who played the role, and I always felt both supported and encouraged by her. By the time performance week began, I felt that I had fostered genuine friendships with the other members of the cast, and I am so excited to work with them on future projects and performances!
As Co-Musical Director, my focus was on the vocal direction of the show and playing piano in the orchestra. I absolutely love the process of breaking down each song and having it come together with a group of 30 trained vocalists. Being able to work with this cast on a more technical level, pulling each song apart and creating a polished and well-balanced sound was a highlight of this production. Another favourite part was, and always is, Sitzprobe. This is the process of combining the orchestra and the cast together for the first time since rehearsing separately. This process has a way of always lifting the energy and work ethic of a production company as we enter the “crunch time” of a rehearsal period. It’s quite amazing!
While SpongeBob is meant for a child demographic, the musical’s message goes much further than your average SpongeBob episode. The musical tackles themes such as discrimination and teamwork. The musical’s plot centres around the imminent eruption of the volcano Mt Humongous and the hysteria that ensues in the town of Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob’s home. Whilst the playful songs and bright colours are appealing to younger members of the audience, the musical’s subtext encourages older audience members to make parallels to real-world issues from the show’s themes.
This score is very different from your typical musical theatre show as it doesn’t have a set genre. Within two hours, you can expect to hear a sea shanty written by Sara Bareilles, an incredible synth-heavy pop song by David Bowie, a very upbeat classic gospel tune by Yolanda Adams (of Aerosmith), a piano ballad by John Legend, and an electronic music speed rap by T.I. Our cast was accompanied by an incredible 16-piece orchestra, with its members ranging from seasoned professionals to high school students. The diversity in playing experience is what community theatre is all about and really added to the overall experience of the production.
Where to next?
I have just finished my second year of university, where I major in Law and Music at the University of Western Australia. Next year, I will be completing a semester as an exchange student at the University College Dublin. I also hope to be accepted into The Gaiety School of Acting’s summer international course, a four-week intensive program in Irish theatre and acting. The Gaiety School of Acting is a well-known performing arts school located in the heart of Dublin, whose alumni have included Colin Ferrell and Olivia Wilde. I hope to work with Maddie again in future productions, as she is a wonderful and talented musical director!
I am currently the musical director and conductor for Drew Anthony Creative’s production of 42nd Street. We open this month, with almost all shows sold out for the three-week run – it should be a hit! After that, I’ll be heavily involved in the Perth Fringe Festival as pianist in some improv shows, which I’m really looking forward to.