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'SpongeBob' confronts the apocalypse — with a little help from Aerosmith

Lilli Cooper as Sandy Cheeks and Ethan Slater as SpongeBob in
Lilli Cooper as Sandy Cheeks and Ethan Slater as SpongeBob in "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical."
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

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The Walt Disney Company has made a ton of money — hundreds of millions of dollars every year, in fact — by turning its animated movies into splashy Broadway musicals.

"The Lion King" is still going strong 20 years after it opened, and a much-anticipated staged version of "Frozen" will arrive on Broadway next year.

And the folks at Viacom, who own the cable channel Nickelodeon, among other outlets, have taken notice. Now the media giant has turned one of its most-recognized and beloved series into a Broadway musical, too: 

“SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” is now playing on Broadway. It took more than eight years to put the show together, but all the effort seems to have paid off. The reviews have been very positive, and when The Frame host John Horn saw the show last week, even Ben Platt, the Tony-winning star of “Dear Evan Hansen,” was in the audience.

Kyle Jarrow wrote the book for the musical. His credits include “A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant” and the TV series “Valor.” 

"SpongeBob is this naive character," Jarrow says. "That's where a lot of the comedy comes from and I think that's also why he is so incredibly lovable. He always sees the bright side ... So, basically, what we decided to do is take 'SpongeBob' to its most absurd extreme, which is: What is the most absurd situation to be optimistic in? It's the apocalypse. So, our show, we like to sort of think of it as 'Armageddon' meets 'SpongeBob' meets 'Our Town.'"

Jarrow and director Tina Landau enlisted the help of an impressive array of notable bands and artists to come up with the musical's original songs — they include Cyndi Lauper ("Hero is My Middle Name"), Sara Bareilles ("Poor Pirates"), Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith ("Bikini Bottom Boogie"), John Legend ("[I Guess I] Miss You"), They Might Be Giants ("I'm Not a Loser"). David Bowie and Brian Eno offered a song from Bowie's catalog ("No Control").

Kyle Jarrow spoke with The Frame's John Horn about getting all those artists on board and the challenge of translating a beloved, quirky cartoon for the stage.

To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above. 


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