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  • Adorkable: SpongeBob is just as dorky and lovable as his cartoon counterpart. Slater's squeaky cartoon voice certainly adds to it.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Originally dismissed by critics for being a cheap cash grab, they found it to be pretty funny and heartwarming.
  • Award Snub: Despite numerous victories in other award ceremonies like the Drama Desk Awards, and being one of the most nominated musicals of the season with twelve nominations, it only received one Tony Award for scenic design, losing out in most other categories to The Band's Visit. Many were upset by this, believing Ethan Slater and Gavin Lee deserved their respective awards and that the Tonys were ignoring it due to its childish overtones.
  • Awesome Music: Thanks to the musical's star-studded team of songwriters, the soundtrack is pretty dang brilliant, from Jonathan Coulton's Bikini Bottom Day to They Might Be Giants's dazzling showtune, I'm Not a Loser.
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    • There was Awesome Music before the show even started. In the Broadway version, while the audience took their seats, the conductor (playing melodica), the sound effects guy (playing bongos), the third keyboardist, the rhythm guitarist (playing ukulele), and the lead guitarist (playing Hawaiian slack-key guitar) had a little jam session of Hawaiian music, to set up the atmosphere of the show.
  • Character Rerailment: Practically everyone.
    • SpongeBob is back to being the naïve, if genuinely, good guy he was before Seasonal Rot kicked in.
    • Patrick is back to just being dim and slightly selfish, whilst simultaneously being a genuinely good person.
    • Sandy's country roots and fondness for martial arts are brought back, though her status as a scientist is still the main facet of her personality.
    • Squidward's back to being a snooty snob with a heart as opposed to being a endlessly tortured punching bag.
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    • Mr. Krabs' greed is deconstructed, as Pearl is feeling noticeably neglected due to it. Beyond that, Mr. Krabs is back to being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and proves in the end that he genuinely loves his daughter, even more than he loves money.
    • Plankton is back to being genuinely devious and evil, whilst simultaneously being comical. Curiously, his wife Karen is hit with Adaptational Villainy, being just as devious and evil as her husband. This is handwaved by stating that Karen is more invested in her husband's schemes thanks to a newfound spark in their relationship.
  • Costume Porn: Every single costume in the show is bright and colorful, and pairing them with the flashy neon set makes for some pretty dazzling eye candy. Also, who could forget Squidward's sparkling sequin suit in I'm Not a Loser? Also, instead of using heavy costuming, the costumes instead invoke the animated counterparts in a cleverly simplistic way. Take SpongeBob (as played by Ethan Slater), for example, his outfit is based on what he wears in the TV show, but the addition of a yellow sweater vest pulls the look together and calls back to the rectangular shape of his cartoon counterpart.
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  • Critical Dissonance: To many critics who watched the Chicago version, the music was fantastic and the costume designs looked amazing. To the people who watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day performance, the musical is a mere cashgrab and the costumes look creepy.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Squidward, already beloved among the show's fans, got a ton of attention and praise from critics, thanks to his big, showstopping tap number in the middle of Act II. In every show, his first line of "Another day, another migraine" is drowned out by thunderous applause from the audience.
    • Pearl also has quite a few fans because of her actress getting a chance to show off some thrilling vocals.
    • Perch Perkins gets a lot of attention for his snappy design and impressive vocal chops in "No Control."
  • Fridge Brilliance: Squidward's mother being deceased actually makes sense when you consider the fact that, thanks to their post-coital biology and tendency to take Mama Bear to the extreme, female octopodes typically die after their larvae are born.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: For MCC Theater's 2018 Miscast gala, Ethan Slater, Gavin Lee, and Wesley Taylor performed "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" (a song sung by a female trio) as their characters. This was six months before the West End revival of Company opened, in which the three women who sing the aforementioned song were gender flipped as men.
  • Hype Backlash: When the musical first premiered in Chicago, it received critical acclaim from critics and audiences alike. However, when "Bikini Bottom Day" was performed on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2017, it received a ton of hate from people who had never heard of the musical before that point going from that performance alone. Thankfully, the critical reception on Opening Night was a ton more positive, and most of the hate online had switched to positive support.
    • The Nickelodeon version also got a lot of backlash on social media from fans who were still bitter about the Kamp Koral spinoff and thought this was just another cashgrab in defiance of Stephan Hillenburg’s wishes, not realizing that Hillenburg himself was involved in the production before his death and even attended the premiere, and that the musical was in development long before the spinoff was even announced.
    • When it was announced that the musical got nominated for twelve Tony Awards, many people were flabbergasted at the idea of a SpongeBob musical existing, much less winning a Tony Award. (It only won in one of those categories, however.)
  • Memetic Mutation: Some fans often joke about Stage!Plankton looking incredibly similar to Goro Majima, specifically to how the latter looked in Yakuza 0, with the both of them having black hair tied in a ponytail while wearing an eyepatch (even if Plankton's is over the other eye).
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • For starters, there's the fact that all of the beloved SpongeBob characters that you know and love are doomed to perish in a fiery disaster that could end their entire town as they know it. And although it's supposed to be a heartwarming/Tear Jerker moment, they all accept their impending doom and choose to die together, hand-in-hand (think the climax of Toy Story 3, but on a much larger scale). Don't worry though, they all end up okay by the end.
    • "No Control", while a badass number, can be pretty unsettling with the harsh, blood-red lighting and the sense of paranoia and panic. At the end, everybody screams in terror as the clock slowly and mundanely ticks away; it's pretty funny in the show itself, but on the cast recording, it sounds incredibly eerie.
      • Speaking of screams, some shows have SpongeBob screaming after his part in the song.
    • The fact that Plankton and Karen try to outright murder SpongeBob and Sandy by sending them into an avalanche. Keep in mind, the only other time that Plankton openly tried to kill someone was in the The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and even then, he wasn't the one who was actually gonna do the killing. Here, both he and Karen decide to get their hands dirty and try to dispose of our heroes themselves.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Plankton has an ulterior motive, but he has a legitimate point that evacuating makes more sense than trying to either beat or survive through a volcano. In fact, evacuation is a viable solution in real life.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Many fans were unhappy how the costumes were tweaked after the Chicago run for the Broadway production. In particular SpongeBob went from wearing a yellow sweater vest to wearing a yellow sweater and suspenders — it just doesn't quite work as the original costume did.
    • There were also some changes to the song lyrics and libertto — special mention goes to "Chop To the Top" which was extensively rewritten for the Broadway production; many found the new rewrite to be clunky and not as hummable as the original.
    • The TV version was not filmed on Broadway, so some things had to go. Some were minor and forgivable, like moving the sound effects guy onstage and trimming some lyrics and the second "Bikini Bottom Day" reprise at the top of act two, but some, not so much, such as the removal of the Rube Goldberg devices that represented the boulders.
    • After the TV version aired, it was further trimmed down in reruns, removing some notable songs, including Tom Kenny's appearance as Patchy.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Unlike her cartoon counterpartnote , Stage!Sandy is the victim of Fantastic Racism for being the only land mammal in Bikini Bottom. When an overwhelming and frightening problem arises, people just look for someone to blame and Sandy becomes an easy scapegoat. The show premiered at a time when the immigration debate in the US was getting intense, to say the least, and intended or otherwise, it wasn’t long before people began making the connection.
  • Win Back the Crowd: People who loved the show were disheartened by the negative reception from the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Performance on twitter. The sad thing was, it wasn't really the performance that was bad, but the concept of the show itself was the subject of a lot of blind hate. So much so that it was trending and the head director saw it. Why does this matter? Opening Night was a few weeks later on December 4th, and it had a critically positive reception. After a few weeks of being terrified that critics wouldn't give the show a chance after the bad kneejerk reaction online, everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief to see such a positive turnaround.

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