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Superior High School breaks musical drought with 'Spongebob'

A cast and crew of more than 50 bring Nickelodeon's porous yellow hero to the stage.

Spongebob, played by Gwen Hall, front center, leads the cast in the opening musical number
Spongebob, played by Gwen Hall, front center, leads the cast in the opening musical number during a rehearsal of The Spongebob Musical in the Performing Arts Center at Superior High School on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram<br/>
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SUPERIOR — Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

The same yellow, porous hero who stars in this year’s Superior High School spring musical.

The performing arts center stage will be transformed into Bikini Bottom for a weekend to follow the musical adventures of Spongebob Squarepants. "The Spongebob Musical" will be performed at 7 p.m. May 13-14 and 1 p.m. May 15.

It will be Twin Ports' premiere of the musical, which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 2018. It is also the first musical to take place on the high school stage since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the Nickelodeon series, the musical follows Spongebob, Patrick the starfish, Sandy the squirrel and Squidward the squid as they try to save Bikini Bottom from the eruption of Mount Humongous.

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“It’s a big story of friendship and determination,” said sophomore Lily Holmquist, stage manager.

The show involves dozens of costume changes, a pirate number, tap dancing and a slew of catchy tunes by modern artists ranging from David Bowie and Cyndi Lauper to Panic! At the Disco. Cheri Tesarek, who co-directs the musical with Amber Gilbert, said it strikes the perfect note.

“It’s just really happy, it's colorful and fun and happy, and our kids really need that right now. We need that right now,” said Tesarek, who also serves as the costume and set designer.

Patrick, played by Addie Poskozim, left, Squidward, played by Julian Robbins, center, and Spongebob, played by Gwen Hall, sing as the Mayor, played by Brady Hansen, right, pops his head out from behind Squidward’s house
Patrick, played by Addie Poskozim, left, Squidward, played by Julian Robbins, center, and Spongebob, played by Gwen Hall, sing as the Mayor, played by Brady Hansen, right, pops his head out from behind Squidward’s house during the opening musical number at a rehearsal in the Performing Arts Center at Superior High School on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

More than 50 students are involved in the production, including a few Superior Middle School students. They grew up knowing exactly who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

“It’s fun seeing something that was such a small part of my childhood has now become such a large piece of my high school career,” Holmquist said.

"The Spongebob Musical" has been on the SHS drama radar since it opened on Broadway. The show appeals to all ages, and the tunes are infectious, Tesarek said.

Spongebob, played by Gwen Hall, left, and Sandy, played by Jacqueline Stumpf, look over Sandy’s notes during a scene
Spongebob, played by Gwen Hall, left, and Sandy, played by Jacqueline Stumpf, look over Sandy’s notes during a scene from The Spongebob Musical at rehearsal in the Performing Arts Center at Superior High School on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The creative costumes run the gamut from re-purposed 1960s fashion to pants made out of shower curtains. The set involves colorful hanging pieces as well as mobile items that move on and off with characters. Dancers from Sterling Silver Studio have been tapped to add some extra pizzazz to one of the numbers.

Sound effects are intrinsic to the show, from the squishy noise Patrick makes as he walks to the bubbles wafting up from Bikini Bottom, but they weren’t provided with the script and music. Senior Owen Schilling created and recorded all the sound effects for the show for his senior project.

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“It’s amazing because he is just so good at doing this stuff and having that technical ability,” Tesarek said.

Tickets will be available at the door. With only three shows to choose from, however, Tesarek encouraged people to order tickets in advance. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for students. Visit the Superior High School Drama website or Facebook page for links to ticket sales.

The cast dives around Squidward, played by Julian Robbins, and Patrick, played by Addie Poskozim, during a scene
The cast dives around Squidward, played by Julian Robbins, and Patrick, played by Addie Poskozim, during a scene at a rehearsal in the Performing Arts Center at Superior High School on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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