‘The SpongeBob Musical’ at Toby’s Dinner Theatre is a joyous delight

The show is overflowing with compassion and heart. It reminds us what the world could be.

In a pineapple under the sea, in the town of Bikini Bottom, an endearing and energetic sponge lives with his pet snail. That sponge is more widely known as SpongeBob SquarePants, and he is the hero of The SpongeBob Musical, which is currently being given a joyous and endlessly inventive production at Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Columbia.

Based on the animated television series by Stephen Hillenburg, with a book by Kyle Jarrow and an original score by such heavy hitters as Stephen Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Lady Antebellum, Panic! At the Disco, and Cyndi Lauper, The SpongeBob Musical is about a community coming together to save itself from a natural disaster. The show touches on themes of climate change, corporate greed, and racism (always with a delicate touch), but perhaps most important, it gives its audience, young and old alike, a few hours of sheer, unadulterated delight.

Kyle Dalsimer as SpongeBob and the cast in ‘The SpongeBob Musical.’ Photo by Jerri Tidwell Photography.

SpongeBob (Kyle Dalsimer) — aided by his friends Patrick Star (DeCarlo Raspberry), a starfish, and Sandy Cheeks (Janine Sunday), a squirrel — must prevent an underwater volcano from erupting and destroying Bikini Bottom forever. It’s not a spoiler to say that the plan they hatch involves TNT, bubbles, and “science.” Nor is it giving anything away to say that it all works out in the end because, well…of course it does. If all of this sounds ludicrous, it is! But it is so much fun!

DeCarlo Raspberry as Patrick Star and the cast in ‘The SpongeBob Musical.’ Photo by Jerri Tidwell Photography.

Director Mark Minnick and choreographer David Singleton do an expert job of staging the large musical numbers on Shane Lowry’s magnificent set composed almost entirely of recycled materials — from water bottles to detergent containers to pool noodles. Highlights include Patrick’s gospel number “Super Sea-Star Savior” by Yolanda Admas, in which he is backed by a chorus of sardines; the Act II opener, “Poor Pirates,” written by singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles; and Squidward’s show-stopping song and dance routine, “I’m Not a Loser,” written by They Might Be Giants.

Kudos also to costume designer Flo Arnold and contributing costumer and hair designer Janine Sunday for creating a cohesive, magical, and colorful world in clothing and wigs.

Darren McDonnell as Squidward Q. Tentacles and the cast in ‘The SpongeBob Musical.’ Photo by Jerri Tidwell Photography.

The entire cast is really first-rate but I must call out DeCarlo Raspberry and Mr. Kyle Dalsimer. They shine individually and their duet “(I Guess I) Miss You” by John Legend is both funny and touching.  As Squidward Q. Tentacles, Darren McDonnell strikes a perfect balance between irritating and endearing. And his four-legged tap dance must be seen to be believed!

The SpongeBob Musical is overflowing with compassion and heart. It does not show the world as it is and maybe that’s a good thing. It reminds us what the world could be. And in these trying times, I can’t think of a more meaningful and hopeful message.

Running Time: Two hours 40 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

The SpongeBob Musical plays through July 31, 2022, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road in Columbia, MD. Showtimes are Tuesday through Sunday. Ticket prices range from $68-$72 and include buffet dinner or brunch; children 12 and under are $52.50. Tickets can be purchased directly through the box office by calling 410-730-8311. To purchase tickets online, visit Ticketmaster.com. 

The playbill for The SpongeBob Musical is online here.

COVID Safety: A mask is required when visiting the food buffet. The Toby’s Dinner Theatre COVID safety policy is here.

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