A Broadway musical based on Nickelodeon's megahit SpongeBob SquarePants that features the titular characters as they try to deal with a volcanic eruption threatening to destroy their town. Having been described as Our Town meets Armageddon, the play is also notable for featuring various songs written by renowned recording artists in the music industry, a list of which includes Panic! at the Disco, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, The Flaming Lips and They Might Be Giants, to name a few.
In this adaptation, the characters remain as their respective original species, albeit with some anthropomorphism (as to be expected) and therefore appearing more human (with some adjustments). While its development has been criticized as simply being another way for Nick to milk its cash cow, preview audiences so far have been widely positive, citing how it pays tribute to its cartoon roots while being creative, funny and heartwarming. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, tying for most nominations for 2017 with the musical adaptation of Mean Girls.
After 29 previews and 327 performances, the show officially closed on September 16th, 2018. A live show version starring most of the original cast (save for Lilli Cooper and Stephanie Hsu due to schedule conflicts) aired on Nickelodeon on December 7th, 2019.
This show provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: The Electric Skates accidentally call Squidward "Gilward" and "Squilbur", among other names.
- Accidental Public Confession: After an argument with Karen, Plankton accidentally spills his Evil Plan in front of the entire town.
- Chicago Preview:Plankton: Without the escape pod, I can't hypnotize everyone into loving chum! ...They all heard me say that, didn't they?
- Broadway:Plankton: Is it so wrong that I wanted to get lucky with ONE EVIL SCHEME?! ...They all heard me say that, didn't they?
- Chicago Preview:
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Applied to quite a few of the characters.
- SpongeBob struggles with being labeled a "simple sponge" and a lowly fry cook, and wants to prove that he's capable of even bigger tasks like saving the town.
- Patrick just wants people to listen to him for once. When he finally gets an audience in the form of the sardine cult, he's quick to bask in all the attention he's getting. Unfortunately, this tears a rift between him and his real friends.
- In the cartoon, Sandy came to Bikini Bottom for a research project. That's still the case here, but now there's the addition of her wanting to get away from Texas because she was treated like an outcast there. Not that being the only land critter in a town full of sea creatures bodes well for her either...
- The show reveals that Squidward's need to perform stems from a rough childhood where he was labeled a loser by all of his classmates (this is hinted at in the cartoon, in which he was labelled "Most Likely to Suck Eggs" in his high school yearbook). The only support system he had was his mother, and now that she's dead, he'll stop at nothing to become a star just to make her proud.
- Cartoon Pearl is cheery and her over-emotional nature is played for laughs. In the musical, she is deeply troubled by her dad's choice to prioritize his profits over his family.
- Even Patchy the Pirate is hit with this, although it's mainly Played for Laughs. He's tired of society looking down on pirates for being who they arrr, and even has an entire song about the social struggles that pirates have to go through.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Thanks to the Anthropomorphic Shift, a lot of the characters undergo this. SpongeBob himself is played by the muscular Ethan Slater, Plankton and Karen are personified by onstage actors who occasionally carry puppets/props of their cartoon selves, and even the intentionally unattractive-looking (but still appealing) Squidward is played by Gavin Lee.
- Adaptational Dye Job: Since Pearl Krabs is generally played by actresses of African descent in the musical, she sports dark brown hair here; in the original cartoon, she's a blonde. This could be justified in that her hairstyle is supposed to represent Pearl's enormous whale head, and thus, the color of her hair doesn't particularly matter.
- Adaptational Jerkass:
SpongeBob: Hello, Larry the Lobster!
- Downplayed with Larry the Lobster. While he was a slightly cocky but overall friendly guy in the cartoon, he leans a bit more towards Jerk Jock here, at least at first.
Larry: Watch where you're going, puny dude!
- In the original TV show, Old Man Jenkins... or rather, the many, many versions of him, are portrayed as cranky old men at the very worst. In the musical, he's a Fantastic Racist who leads an Angry Mob against Sandy for being a land mammal (this is presumably due to Plankton's influence). Fortunately, he gets better at the end.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the cartoon, Karen is something of a neutral Anti-Villain who unenthusiastically aids Plankton in his schemes. Here, she's just as maniacal as her husband, and is much more willing to help him take over the town. She even joins him in an Evil Laugh at one point. It's implied in the opening number (wherein Karen acts more like her cartoon self) that this is due to his evil plan actually succeeding this time, which apparently makes her more interested—Plankton mentions to her that she "used to love his evil schemes", to which she responds "Well what can I say? The magic's gone."
- Adorkable: SpongeBob, as played here by Ethan Slater.
- Affectionate Parody: Of the play Our Town.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Sandy reveals that she was actually treated like an outcast back in Texas, as her colleagues couldn't wrap their heads around a girl squirrel who was super intelligent and did karate. This is part of the reason why she came to Bikini Bottom in the first place, and even still, she's scape-squirreled by some of the town because she's a land mammal.
- Ambiguous Species: Since they are original to the show, it is not made clear what creatures the Mayor of Bikini Bottom or the Electric Skates are supposed to be.
- An Aesop: When crisis strikes, society either looks for someone to blame, follow, control, or exploit, which only ends up dividing people in the end. The only way to get through it is by coming together as a community and facing the situation head on.
- Angry Mob: Old Man Jenkins leads one against Sandy when he mis-blames her for the volcano erupting.
- Apocalypse How: Via volcanic eruption.
- Arc Words:
- A Simple Sponge pops up quite frequently. SpongeBob's main motivation is to prove that he's anything but.
- Best Day Ever or Best (blank) ever, mostly used by SpongeBob as a reflection of his positivity. In the end, it's this very phrase (or rather, song) that helps motivate the characters when all hope is lost.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Poor Pirates", Patchy and his crew proceed to list out the struggles that pirates have to deal with every day. These include not having enough food on ships, suffering from bad hygiene due to their long voyages, and having to deal with slow internet connections.
- Ascended Extra: The foley artist, AKA "the guy making all the sounds", actually stays onstage in the filmed version, and occasionally interacts with the other characters as if he was a citizen of Bikini Bottom. He also gets a speaking line. He even steps out of his foley booth to join hands with the cast during "Best Day Ever".
- Audience Participation Song: Well naturally, the theme song has to be used at some point!
- Back for the Finale: Bikini Bottom Day gets a solemn reprise at the end of the first act, as well as a triumphant one as they celebrate saving the town in the finale.
- Berserk Button: Squidward does not take kindly to being called a loser, due to some bad childhood experiences with bullies.
- Big Bad: Plankton as usual, with Karen acting as his Dragon. While Mt. Humongous serves as the story's main source of conflict, it's because of Plankton's Evil Plan that things start to go south by the end.
- Big Damn Heroes: When SpongeBob falls off the edge of Mt. Humongous, Patrick swoops in on Sandy's jetpack and catches him just in time.
- The Big Guy: Patrick's role in the trio is essentially this, and SpongeBob even straight up calls him the brawn of the group.
- Big "NO!": Played for Laughs and taken Up to Eleven when SpongeBob wakes up on the day of the eruption and realizes it wasn't just a dream.SpongeBob: NOOOOOOO-French Narrator: Ten minutes later...SpongeBob: -OOOOOOO-French Narrator: One hour later...SpongeBob: -OOOOOOO-French Narrator: Fifty years later...SpongeBob: (as an old man) -OOOOOOO.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Unexpectedly said by SpongeBob when he breaks up the fight between the Bikini Bottomites. To Squidward, of all people. It's so unexpected that the latter looks so visibly shaken afterwards.SpongeBob: If you don't stop this, it won't matter either way. There won't be anything left to save!Squidward: Deep thought, SpongeBob, but Bikini Bottom—SpongeBob: I'M NOT FINISHED!
- Bowdlerise: The TV version shown on Nickelodeon removes Karen and Plankton's steamy Big Damn Kiss scene, along with the bikini wax joke used in "When the Going Gets Tough".
- Break the Cutie: Attempted with SpongeBob, but of course, it doesn't work.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- Patchy the Pirate does this repeatedly.
- At the beginning of the show, SpongeBob says hello to the conductor, and the guy in the sound booth. In the filmed version, he also says hello to the people at home.
- Characters repeatedly interact with the band conductor who is in the pit at the edge of the stage. At one point, the conductor uses action figures and a tiny model of the town to show the characters' perspective from the top of the volcano.
- During Bikini Bottom Boogie, several characters head to the front row seats to take a group "shellfie" with a lucky member of the audience. The pictures would then be posted on the show's official Instagram page.
- Broken Bird: Turns out Squidward's need to perform stems from his childhood trauma of being made fun of by his classmates.
- Canon Foreigner: The Mayor, who's a completely new character and has no affiliation with the two other◊ mayors from the show. The Electric Skates are also a new band of characters. The Mayor character was later adapted into the TV series.
- Central Theme: SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward and Pearl all seek love, appreciation or acceptance in their lives.
- Chekhov's Gun: When we're first introduced to Sandy, she's seen putting together her latest invention, a new jetpack. It isn't seen again until Act II, when Patrick uses it to rescue SpongeBob on the top of Mt. Humongous.
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: During I'm Not A Loser:
- Costume Evolution: Meta example. Early promotional posters for the Chicago run used very different costumes◊ from the ones used in the actual show (notable differences include a brown long sleeve for Squidward, a plain, pattern-less short sleeve for Patrick, and silver pants/shoes for Sandy). The SpongeBob costume, which consisted of a yellow sweater vest and wig with brown shorts◊, was the only one that made it into the show itself. Once the show hit Broadway, however, SpongeBob's design was completely redone: the sweater vest became a yellow plaid shirt, the pants were now longer and included suspenders, and the yellow wig was dropped completely◊.
- Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: Mr. Krabs tells SpongeBob to cover his eyes for "Daddy Knows Best". SpongeBob obligingly does so.
- Crowd Song: A good number of the songs fall under this, the most notable ones being Bikini Bottom Day, No Control, When the Going Gets Tough, and "Best Day Ever".
- Cry Laughing: The Mayor breaks down into this when it looks like they don't have the money for an escape pod.
- Daddy's Girl: Pearl Krabs, though she wants to be more independent and live her own life.
- Darker and Edgier: Although the show is just as wacky and lighthearted as the cartoon, the stakes are much higher now, as SpongeBob has to save the town from an apocalypse. The song No Control is a notable example of the show's darker, more serious moments.
- Dark Reprise: Bikini Bottom Day gets a solemn, yet hopeful, reprise at the start Act II as Spongebob talks himself into going on with his and Sandy's plan to stop the volcano.
- Deadpan Snarker: Squidward retains this trait from the cartoon. Even when the whole town considers punishing Plankton and Karen for their crimes, he just remarks:
- Death by Adaptation: Squidward's mother, a relatively minor character in the TV show, is implied to have died sometime before the events of the musical. According to Word of God, this was done deliberately in order to make Squidward a more grounded, sympathetic character, (and to give him a stronger motivation). For what it's worth, the show did occasionally imply that Squidward thinks his mom is dead, despite the fact that she's clearly still alive (in Krusty Towers, he considers making cookies the way his mother used to a ridiculous request and refers to his mother in the past tense, despite her physically appearing in the episode to help Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob; in Ghost Host, the Flying Dutchman gets under Squidward's skin by pretending to be her ghost and moaning about how Squidward never called his mother).
- Distant Duet: SpongeBob and Patrick have one in the form of (I Guess I) Miss You. Patrick sings it in Bikini Bottom while SpongeBob sings it on Mt. Humongous.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Mrs. Puff decides to get wasted in the time leading up to the apocalypse.Mrs. Puff: I'm gonna do all the living I should have done before! Gimme another kelp juice, Johnny! Carpe diem!
Johnny: Who are you callin' a carp?!
- Duet of Differences: Daddy Knows Best is one for Mr. Krabs and Pearl. While Eugene sings about the joys of money, Pearl comments on how he's too greedy to pay attention to her. Bonus points for both their parts being completely different music genres that clash with each other in the end; Mr. Krabs has a hearty sailor's ditty while Pearl sings a soulful ballad.Mr. Krabs (referring to his money): Can ya hear it, Pearl?Pearl (aside): Daddy, can you hear me?
- Easily Forgiven: Averted. After Sandy's 'Eruptor Interruptor' device saves the town, Old Man Jenkins (who had previously led a mob against her) affirms everyone should be welcome in Bikini Bottom - Sandy included. Sandy appreciates it, but isn't sure she can trust the townsfolk again after they'd threaten her. Spongebob says she doesn't have to - but begs her to stay in town and give them another chance to do better. Sandy agrees, partly because it's still where Spongebob and Patrick live, and they're part of "her team".
- Eleven O'Clock Number: Squidward's big Broadway tap number, "I'm Not a Loser".
- Establishing Character Moment: "Bikini Bottom Day" might as well be called "The Establishing Character Moment Song". With every main character that's introduced, we get a good taste of the kind of people (well, fish) that they are. SpongeBob jumps out of bed ready for the best day ever, Patrick plans on staying home and watching television (and struggles to think of a word that rhymes with "rock"), Squidward comes out to tell his neighbors to pipe down, Sandy is shown putting together her latest invention, and so on.
- Eureka Moment: When Spongebob tells Sandy it's up to her to think of a way to stop the volcano, then hastily adds "No pressure!", Sandy gets an idea to stop the build-up of pressure in the volcano to stop the eruption.
- Evil Counterpart: Plankton and Karen are this to SpongeBob and Sandy. Both SpongeBob and Plankton figure out very different ways to handle the disaster (SpongeBob wants to save Bikini Bottom, while Plankton wants to abandon it and take over a new town), and they both struggle with their own individual identities (SpongeBob deals with being a simple sponge, while Plankton deals with being small). Sandy and Karen act as the brains of their particular groups, and aid their companions with fantastical gadgets (Sandy has the Eruptor Interruptor, Karen has the Avalanche Maker 3000).
- Evil Laugh: For such a tiny villain, Plankton can let out a pretty sinister cackle. In the Chicago production, his voice even distorts.
- Evil Overlord:
- On the day of the apocalypse, the Mayor becomes a tyrranical ruler who commands the citizens with an iron fist, and recruits Larry the Lobster to punish anyone that doesn't follow her rules.
- And of course, Plankton plans on becoming this once everyone migrates to a new land.
- Evil Plan: Taking advantage of the panic ensuing in Bikini Bottom, Plankton hatches a scheme to convince everyone to migrate to a new land, where he'll hypnotize them all into liking his chum burgers and ultimately becom the ruler of the new town. Unlike the cartoon, he seems to show no interest in stealing the Krabby Patty secret formula this time around.
- Expy: The cult of sardines that worship Patrick during Super Sea Star Savior are very much the show's equivalent to the cartoon's anchovies.
- Eyepatch of Power: The actor portraying Plankton sports an evil-looking eyepatch, in reference to the character only having one eye.
- Fantastic Racism: Plays a major part in Sandy's conflict; Old Man Jenkins and his mob mis-blame her for the apocalypse simply because she's a land creature. It further escalates when someone spray paints "LAND MAMMALS GO HOME" on a makeshift sign; Sandy responds by karate kicking the sign in half.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: On January 4, 2020, a sing-along version of the musical aired where the bouncing ball took the form of whomever was singing in their cartoon form. If two people sang, a jellyfish played the bouncing ball. If it was the ensemble, a flower-cloud or a bubble bounced over the words.
- Friendship Song: BFF (sung by SpongeBob and Patrick) is a textbook example. Let's have some fun together, we'll be best friends forever / BFF, that stands for us!
- Funny Background Event:
- Towards the end of Bikini Bottom Day, Plankton and Karen can be seen trying to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula from Mr. Krabs, to no avail.
- During SpongeBob's verse in When The Going Gets Tough, Patrick raises his hand at one point but Squidward quickly slaps it down.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Sandy slaps Spongebob when he freaks out about the prospect of climbing Mt. Humongous.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- In some performances, when the town chooses the Electric Skates to perform over Squidward, you can see Squidward mouthing some inaudible expletive along the lines of "Son of a bitch..."
- It's Played for Laughs, but Plankton does some rather... interesting moves during When the Going Gets Tough, like grinding on Pearl and doing a spanking gesture to Mrs. Puff. There's also this line:Plankton: Before that sucker blows, we gotta get the fish out!
- It's also implied that the reason Karen's more enthusiastic about assisting her husband in his evil plan is because it's putting the spark back into their marriage.
- Of particular note is Plankton asking Karen to call him "big guy" instead of "Sheldon", then moaning every time she says it until they start passionately making out.
- The "Bikini Bottom Boogie" song contains the line "Kiss my jellyfish!"
- Mrs. Puff's drinking problem.
- At the top of act two, Patchy refers to Hell's Kitchen, a real district of New York City, by name.
- When SpongeBob, Sandy, and Patrick return from Mount Humongous to see Bikini Bottom in chaos, Perch Perkins can be seen bound and gagged.
- After Plankton's evil scheme is revealed, Mr. Krabs calls Plankton "Bad Word Number Eleven", and Plankton replies with "How dare you call me a (dolphin noise)!", a Mythology Gag to "Sailor Mouth".
- Unfortunately, some of these things were a little too taboo for Nickelodeon, and ended up getting cut for the TV version.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: Plankton, the show's main villain, is the only character in Bikini Bottom who sports slick black hair, and it even has two ponytails in the back that represent his antennae.
- Gospel Revival Number: Super Sea Star Savior is a direct parody of this.
- G-Rated Drug: One of the Electric Skates apparently has an addiction to "seahorse-radish".
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: While Sandy has brains and Patrick has brawn, SpongeBob worries that he lacks any special skills that'll help save the day. In the end, he finally realizes what he can bring to the table: positivity and moral support (or as Patrick puts it, "Management skills!")
- HeelFace Turn: After his Evil Plan fails, Plankton eventually warms up to SpongeBob's encouragement at the end, and when the town is saved, he and Karen celebrate alongside the rest of the citizens.
- "I Am" Song: (Not A) Simple Sponge.
- Improbable Weapon User: When Larry the Lobster becomes the Mayor's bodyguard, he arms himself with a jellyfish on a stick, using it like a taser, a prod, and a shotgun.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Spongebob, who has been hinted to have a crush on Sandy, assures Sandy that he "understands (Sandy) has to do what (she's) gotta do" after Sandy says she wants to try and find a new home because she still doesn't feel like she fits in well in Bikini Bottom. This illustrates SpongeBob's increased maturity over the cartoon version, in which he never showed any indication that he would respect Sandy's decision to leave if it was what she really wanted.
- "I Want" Song: I'm Not A Loser for Squidward. (Not A) Simple Sponge also counts as one for SpongeBob.
- Irrelevant Act Opener: The musical opens with Patchy, who has no relevance in the storyline and is basically there to boast about being the biggest SpongeBob fan in the world.
- Continued at the beginning of Act II where he brings in a group of other pirates and they sing a song about how poorly they're treated in the modern world before being shooed away by security.
- Kung-Foley: Every instance of Sandy and SpongeBob doing karate moves is accompanied by an exaggerated sound effect (provided by a foley artist backstage).
- Large Ham: Since it's based on a cartoon, this is to be expected.
- Last Day to Live: Becomes a poignant element in the final act of the show with thanks to the volcano eruption.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Patrick assures Spongebob by saying "You're, like, the most responsible, most dependable, most absorbent sponge I've ever met!"
- Leitmotif: The melody for Best Day Ever can be heard sprinkled throughout the show, although the actual song itself isn't sung until the end of Act II.
- Lemony Narrator: The French Narrator, as usual.
- Literal-Minded: When Spongebob asks Patrick if he's "manager material", Patrick initially thinks he means stuff like polyester.
- Minor Character, Major Song:
- Perch Perkins gets his share of the spotlight with No Control, in which he sings the lead part.
- The Electric Skates have their own number titled Bikini Bottom Boogie.
- Missing Mom: Squidward's mother, who is said to have passed a while before.
- Mistaken for Profound: The sardines become obsessed with Patrick, hanging on to his every word, even nonsense like "Life smells weird."
- Money Song: "Daddy Knows Best", sung by (you guessed it) Mr. Krabs. Well, his part is all about money at least, the other half of the song is actually about Pearl detesting her father's greed.
- Monkey Morality Pose: When Mr. Krabs and Plankton start cursing each other out, Patrick is covering his eyes, Spongebob is covering his ears and Sandy is covering her mouth.
- Mr. Exposition: The French Narrator, at least at the beginning. He makes sure to explain things thoroughly for audience members who aren't well-versed with the SpongeBob universe. For example, he points out that Sandy is a squirrel from Texas, and briefly summarizes the rivalry between Mr. Krabs and Plankton.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- The props and set pieces used in the show consist of normal, everyday objects, like pool noodles, giant balls, pink umbrellas that represent jellyfish, and large orange boxes on dollies that come together to form Mt. Humongous.
- This also serves as a major theme for SpongeBob's character. Throughout the show, he's treated like a "simple sponge"- a plain, ordinary object that doesn't have any use outside of what it's designed for- and this is what pushes him to work even harder in his effort to save the town. During "(Not a) Simple Sponge", a group of ensemble members come out with neon kitchen sponges and form images while SpongeBob sings, adding to the idea that simple objects like sponges can be used in the most extraordinary of ways.
- The Musical: It's a musical adaptation of SpongeBob SquarePants.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Happens to Squidward repeatedly, but eventually he gets his big break.
- Mythology Gag: All over the place.
Patrick: I don't like you!
- The show opens with SpongeBob getting out of bed and saying, "Good morning world, and all who inhabit it!"
- Mermaid Man is mentioned.
- SpongeBob reminds everyone that he can play his nose like a flute and eat lots of ice cream. He also plays the ukulele at some points.
- The iconic "MY LEG!" sound clip is used at one point, sampled directly from "Arrgh!"
- The song Best Day Ever is straight from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
- Dolphin swears make an appearance.
- One of Squidward's first lines is "Another day, another migraine".
- Plankton mentions that he went to college.
- SpongeBob and Sandy's love for karate is taken into account.
- One of the demands of the Electric Skates is Goofy Goober Ice Cream.
- The iconic Time Card gag is used when SpongeBob lets out a Big "NO!" (read the aformementioned trope above).
- It's an easy-to-miss detail, but during Bikini Bottom Day, Mr. Krabs and Mrs. Puff can briefly be seen dancing together, a small nod to their relationship.
- Squidward's name is mispronounced several times.
- Old Man Jenkins suggests sacrificing someone to the volcano.
- Mr. Krabs' refusal to allow SpongeBob to manage the Krusty Krab because he's "just a simple sponge" mirrors The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie where he wouldn't give SpongeBob the management position because he's "just a kid." Likewise, Plankton's plan to hypnotize the people of Bikini Bottom into liking chum is similar to his plan of using mind control to take over Bikini Bottom.
- The final reprise of "Bikini Bottom Day" ends with the cast playing their band instruments terribly.
- When the volcano cuts off all cable access in Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob tells a worried Patrick that they can just pass the time with "Imaginaaation!", complete with the hand gesture.
- When Patrick realizes that the sardines are starting to praise him for his "words of wisdom", he remarks, "Finally someone understands, the inner machinations of my mind are an enigma".
- Pearl's reluctance to run the Krusty Krab reflects the "Bossy Boots" episode where Pearl tried to sabotage her career as manager of the Krusty Krab because she would rather hang out with her friends.
- During "Best Day Ever", SpongeBob points at Squidward to cue him into the song. This time, though, Squidward happily joins in.
- When Plankton and Karen hatch a plan to use the Avalanche Maker 3000 to stop SpongeBob and Sandy, Plankton exclaims, "It's evil, it's diabolical, it's LEMON-SCENTED!"
- At the end, when Patrick volunteers to be a part of the final performance, he asks, "Is mayonnaise an instrument?"
- During "(Not a) Simple Sponge", SpongeBob says that he's the "undisputed master of my own dojo!".
- SpongeBob and Patrick's big argument after "Super Sea Star Savior" is reminiscent of their scuffle from "The Fry Cook Games".
SpongeBob: Well, I don't like you more!
Patrick: Well at least I don't live in a fruit!
SpongeBob: Well at least I don't have a conehead!
Patrick: Well at least I'm not square! Square! Square!
SpongeBob: Pink! Pink!
- Mount Humongous was featured in Giant Squidward as a mountain for skiing; here its a deadly volcano.
- Patrick's tambourine solo in Super Sea Star Savior is reminiscent of his and SpongeBob's knee-slapping in Now That We're Men from The Spongebob Squarepants Movie.
- SpongeBob calls the Krusty Krab the finest eating establishment ever established for eating.
- It's up to SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy to save Bikini Bottom from peril, much like in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, where they were the three playable characters in the game.
- Named by the Adaptation: Sandy's full name here is Sandra Jennifer Cheeks. In the cartoon, she doesn't have a middle name.
- Near-Death Experience: The volcano threatening to erupt serves as this for everyone in Bikini Bottom.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Mayor of Bikini Bottom is clearly supposed to be the undersea equivalent of Kellyanne Conway, as evidenced by her vocal cadences and her constant blaming of the "fake news" media.
- Ocular Gushers: Whenever Pearl cries, she sprays a spritz of water from her "spout", sometimes right into the audience.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: One of the Bikini Bottom citizens is a beautiful mermaid named Merlina.
- Piss-Take Rap: Plankton's Villain Song, which not even Karen believes will be successful. Downplayed, as the song was written by an actual rapper, and the Broadway production adds a rapid-fast verse for Plankton to wow the crowd.
- The Pollyanna: A crucial part of SpongeBob's character. No matter what situation he's in, he always keeps a positive attitude and focuses on the bright side of things. This especially holds significance in the end, when he encourages everyone to stay positive and have the Best Day Ever in the face of destruction.Chorus: It's a typical...
Chorus: A regular...
Chorus: An ordinary...
All: Bikini Bottom... Day!
- Power Trio: SpongeBob, Sandy, and Patrick form one in Hero is My Middle Name.SpongeBob: Three heroes to the rescue!
Sandy: Team of très to the top!
Patrick: Us, go!!!
- Pragmatic Adaptation: For obvious reasons, Sandy doesn't wear a bulky suit and helmet in the show; instead, it's a sleek white suit that's visually inspired by the original. Her large afro also suggests the glass helmet.
- Pursue the Dream Job: SpongeBob ultimately wants to be Krusty Krab Manager.
- Red-Headed Hero: Originally in the Chicago performance SpongeBob had yellow hair, but on Broadway he sports Ethan Slater's natural red hair.
- Rock Trio: The Electric Skates, which only consists of three members. Originally, they were visually modeled after 70's era Aerosmith (their song was even written by Joe Perry and Steven Tyler), but they were given a punk rock makeover for the Broadway run (think Green Day with multicolored hair).
- Rube Goldberg Device: You see all those wacky props that align the sides of the theater? They're all part of one big Rube Goldberg contraption that launches boulders at the cast during the eruption scenes. For example, one boulder goes down a series of tubes and pipes before getting kicked onto the stage by a bicycle. Sadly, they did not appear in the televised versions since they could not fit in the theater where it was filmed.
- Quarreling Song: When The Going Gets Tough. It's even a rap battle.
- Sassy Secretary: Karen, personified by an actress wearing pointed glasses and a purple beehive, very much fits this role. As the romance between her and Plankton develops, she eventually becomes a Sexy Secretary.
- Self-Deprecation: Squidward's song has shades of this.
- During Daddy Knows Best, Mr. Krabs briefly does the Tevye dance (while singing about money, appropriately). And during the exodus out of Bikini Bottom (which is shot as a parallel to the "Anatevka" number in Fiddler), we actually do see a fiddler on a roof! The Broadway version hammers in the shout out even more by having the cast briefly sing "Bikini-tevka" during said exodus.
- In Hero is My Middle Name, Patrick does a small kickline to the tune of One from A Chorus Line.
- Patchy's Poor Pirates crew consists of a few pirates... and a baseball player (a Pittsburgh Pirate).
- The extravagant headpieces that Squidward's sea anemone chorus wear are reminiscent of the feather fans from Chicago.
- Following When the Going Gets Tough, Mr. Krabs sarcastically calls Plankton "Tiny Dancer".
- Squidward has a line where he says, "I'm a pretty squid, mama", which is a reference to the acclaimed musical Gypsy.
- As the residents of Bikini Bottom follow the mayor towards the concert/ evacuation site with their luggage, they form a somber, back-lit procession reminiscent of the ending of Fiddler on the Roof.
- Show Stopper: I'm Not A Loser is this for most, which is ironic seeing as it's Squidward's solo.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Danny Skinner is pretty good at emulating cartoon Patrick's deep speaking voice, but his natural singing voice is much higher, with a prominent southern twang.
- The Song Before the Storm: Tomorrow Is, right before the end of Act I.
- Species Surname: It's SpongeBob, what else would you expect?
- Squashed Flat: Hilariously used in Act II, when Old Man Jenkins literally gets flattened by an enormous boulder (to achieve the cartoony effect, the actor playing Jenkins secretly sneaks off behind the boulder and places a cardboard cutout of himself on the stage). Made slightly confusing as the scene erupts in panic soon after and Old Man Jenkins, dimensional, begins panicking with his flattened self.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: One of the Electric Skates yells "ROCK AND ROLL!" almost constantly. His fellow band member explains that he's been doing this ever since he had a bad stage diving accident in the past.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: I'm not a loser / I don't secretly hate myself... I don't not leave the house/ 'cause I don't not/ prefer to stay at home...
- Take That!: The show does a big "Take that!" to climate change deniers (and by extension, the Trump administration). The townspeople don't listen to Sandy, who's a scientist, and make a crack about 'tidal warming' also being fake. Her role as a scientist adds to the Fantastic Racism that makes them to scapegoat her because they need someone to blame. The sardines, like some religious fanatics, follow Patrick's suggestion to close their eyes and deny that a volcano is actually going to destroy them.
- Team Normal: SpongeBob embodies this trope for the majority of the musical.SpongeBob: We'll be the best team ever! Sandy's brains, plus Patrick's brawn, and... though I don't have a special skill to bring to the table, I'm coming too!
- That Was Not a Dream: At the start of Act II, Spongebob thinks the imminent volcanic eruption and Patrick ditching him for a band of devotees was just a dream, but then Perch Perkins comes on the news to remind him "The end is coming today, and friends are abandoning friends."
- This Is No Time to Panic: Right before the start of "No Control", Spongebob and Patrick start freaking out when Sandy informs them Mt. Humongous is going to erupt.Spongebob & Patrick: THE END IS COMING! THE END IS COMING!
Sandy: Okay, there's no need to panic.
Sandy: I take that back! (starts freaking out alongside Spongebob and Patrick)
- Those Two Bad Guys: Plankton and Karen who spend the majority of their stage time gloating about their Evil Plan in the sidelines.
- Triumphant Reprise: (Not) A Simple Sponge gets a dramatic reprise when SpongeBob climbs to the mouth of Mt. Humongous.
- Tsundere: Like in the show, Squidward shows shades of this toward SpongeBob.
- Unholy Matrimony: True to the cartoon, primary villains Plankton and Karen are happily married. Interestingly enough, their love for each other is noticeably much stronger here.
- Villain Song: When The Going Gets Tough, led by Plankton. Using everyone's fear to his advantage, he convinces the entire town to migrate to a new land, claiming that the only way to face your problems is by running away from them; this, of course, is just a ploy to get all the citizens together, hypnotize them en masse, and become the supreme ruler of their new town.Plankton: I need to sell them on my plan, Karen. But it won't be easy. I'm gonna need to do it in song.
- We Interrupt This Program: Perch Perkins frequently pops in to inform the audience of Bikini Bottom's current state via his news program.
- World of Ham: There isn't a single subtle character in the entire show. Except for Gary.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Many of the characters sport hair colors that correlate with their respective animated counterparts. Patrick presents himself in pink, Mr. Krabs appears in red, Karen's has a metallic purple shade, and even Squidward (who's bald in the cartoon) sports blue hair. SpongeBob originally had yellow hair, but this was changed when the show hit Broadway (he instead bears Ethan Slater's natural red hair).