The ‘SpongeBob’ musical could be a surprise hit

The ‘SpongeBob’ musical could be a surprise hit




“SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” scrambled aboard a lifeboat Tuesday and it appears as if it may float — not less than till the Tony Awards in June.

The $20 million musical about colourful creatures below the ocean was, many on Broadway thought, headed for that iceberg lifeless forward. Advance ticket gross sales have been anemic, and lots of Broadway insiders have been dismissive of a kiddie cartoon changed into a musical.

And but Monday’s opening-night crowd of skeptics have been charmed by the units, Tina Landau’s path and a child you’ve by no means heard of who’s destined to be a star: Ethan Slater, the 20-something enjoying SpongeBob.

Some powerful critics have been charmed, too, giving the present surprisingly good opinions. As one manufacturing staffer mentioned, “We have been ready for the worst, however when the opinions got here out we have been, frankly, shocked.”

Viacom, which owns the “SpongeBob” franchise, is about to throw some massive advertising and marketing cash on the present. Sources say Viacom was holding again out of concern that “SpongeBob” wasn’t promoting; though the long-running TV present has made billions world wide, it opened with simply $three.5 million within the financial institution. Rumors have been swirling that Viacom was going to drag the plug by the top of the 12 months.

However at a manufacturing assembly Tuesday, Viacom executives arrived smiling. They dodged a bullet, and whereas I can’t say they’ve one other “Lion King” on their fingers, they’ve a present price preventing for.

The plan is to use an untapped market: households who need to go to the theater, however who’ve been scared away by skyrocketing ticket costs and the sense that Broadway is just for the 1 p.c.

“SpongeBob” has plenty of tickets to promote at an inexpensive worth. Earlier than the present opened Monday, it was averaging $78 a ticket. That’s clicked as much as about $98, which continues to be a steal in comparison with what persons are paying to see Bette Midler in “Hi there, Dolly!” and Bruce Springsteen in that little present of his.

“There’s a market they’re going for, and they need to,” says a high theater govt. “Will they make again $20 million on Broadway? No. However the present is nice; there might be a tour, and it may be accomplished all around the world.”

Bikini Backside is open for enterprise. You’re not going to sail top notch on the Cunard Line — that’s for individuals who can afford “Hamilton” — however there’s a lot enjoyable available with “SpongeBob,” the Carnival Cruise ship of Broadway.

Inside Broadway baseball right here, however let’s go for it: Producers are suing casting administrators who’re making an attempt to type a union. The producers are carrying a giant stick and making loud noises by way of their commerce group, the Broadway League.

However the actors aren’t blissful. Many owe their careers to casting administrators similar to Bernie Telsey, Geoffrey Johnson, Jay Binder and Wendy Ettinger. They’re going to help the individuals who found them, and whereas their union, Actors’ Fairness, isn’t saying a lot now, a debate is raging. Issues may get ugly. Casting administrators may not present up for work, and the actors and their union might nicely help them.