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Walnut Hills High School's THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL

Squidward (Emma Dalton, left) tells SpongeBob (Leo Jenkins, right) all about their one-squid show in Walnut Hills High School’s Production of The SpongeBob Musical.

Review by Grace Rudie, Ursuline Academy Critic Team

Taking a deep-sea dive into a childhood classic, Walnut Hills High School displayed an impressive technical, vocal, and energetic performance of The SpongeBob Musical. The hard work of the cast and crew shone through in every number, leaving the audience clapping and cheering for more.

A twist on the TV show, The SpongeBob Musical introduces the iconic characters of Spongebob Squarepants, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks with applicable life stories and problems. The musical takes place as a volcano is about to erupt and destroy Bikini Bottom. Spongebob takes it upon himself to gather a team to save his town. Fighting back criticism from Mr. Krabs and the diabolical plans of Plankton and Karen, the team works through realistic problems to save their home not only from the volcano but from the mass chaos that follows.

The energy that radiated from the cast was genuinely contagious to the audience, culminating in a full standing ovation. The ensemble stood out, portraying unique and complex characters for every creature living in this underwater world. Also, a stand-out was the noteworthy set. Specifically, the volcano, with its constant moving pieces provided by the deck crew, simulates the stakes of the scene and impending doom that perfectly coincided with the actors in the scene.

A shining star, Leo Jenkins' portrayal of the iconic SpongeBob was show-stopping. Not only stunning the audience vocally in numbers like "(Just A) Simple Sponge," and "Best Day Ever," he added depth with spot-on character movements. However, this show would not be complete without the marvelous portrayal of the neighborhood squirrel, Sandy Cheeks, by Diana Huchinson. Having to sing and constantly climb up the moving volcanic set in her number "Chop To The Top," Huchinson never dropped the country charm and attitude that epitomizes the character.

Every actor in this show deserves to be recognized. The cast worked as a team to bring to life the message of this heartwarming story. The comedy was spot on for the entire cast, including moments from Owen Cummings as the witty Perch Perkins, adding to not only the narration of the show but also capturing the problems that occur in modern media. Other comedic stand-outs are the perfect duo of Brando Donaldson as Plankton and Lily Canter as Karen. They played with the script well and brought new sides to this evil duo. Ella Vaughn also wowed the audience vocally as Pearl.

It would be remiss not to mention the costume crew led by Sadie Gray who phenomenally dressed the cast with odes to the cartoon while also giving the cast flexibility to act and dance with incredible movement. Student choreographers Lael Ingram and Izzy Lachey blew it out of the ocean on every single musical number. The sound crew led by Reagan Warvel, Mary Sullivan, and Norah Miller also did a fantastic job with the numerous sound elements required from this production.

Walnut Hills High School embodied the themes of not only friendship but unity into a stunning performance.

SpongeBob (Leo Jenkins), Patrick (Valerie Dreith), and Sandy (Diana Hutchinson) try to inspire hope in Bikini Bottom in Walnut Hills High School’s Production of The SpongeBob Musical.

Review by Maura MacDonald, Campbell County High School Critic Team

BREAKING NEWS! Mt. Humongous, a nearby volcano, will erupt within the next 48 hours and completely obliterate Bikini Bottom. Will SpongeBob and his friends figure out a way to save the day, or will they give up all hope like the rest of Bikini Bottom residents? Let's dive in and find out in Walnut Hills High School's recent production of The SpongeBob Musical by Kyle Jarrow.

This fun-filled and family-friendly musical tells the story of childhood cartoon character, SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends, Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks, and how they save Bikini Bottom from a nearby active volcano about to erupt. Sandy and SpongeBob come up with a special invention to stop the volcano from erupting called the Eruptor Interrupter. While all other Bikini Bottom residents have given up hope, SpongeBob and Sandy climb Mt. Humongous, drop the Eruptor Interrupter into the volcano, and save the day. This well-composed, musical addresses modern day morals such as the evils of racism, critiquing politics and the media, and finding your true self. This allows the younger audience to enjoy the characters and storyline, while the older audience can read between the lines and understand the hidden morals.

The lead performers did a wonderful job at captivating the audience and carrying the storyline. Lead actor Leo Jenkins, who portrayed SpongeBob Squarepants, and lead actress Diana Hutchinson, who played Sandy Cheeks, both shared beautiful harmonies during "Chop to the Top," which signified their characters strong friendship.

The supporting cast led by Valerie Dreith who portrayed Patrick Star, and Brando Donaldson who played the mischievous role of Plankton, both kept the audience enthralled as they created hysterical sub-plots from the saviors of Bikini Bottom. Choreography led by Izzy Lachey, an ensemble member, and danced by Emma Dalton, who portrayed Squidward, created a lively setting, especially during their tap solos in "I'm Not A Loser." The most monumental aspect of the cast was their vocal talent. Female vocalist, Ella Vaughn, who portrayed Pearl, had an intense belt and beautiful vibrato which embodied her role of whale who was never recognized by her father, Mr. Krabs.

The technical aspects of the show were impressive considering the story took place "under the sea". The set design, created by Chloe Goodman, was inspired by a beachy setting which featured a tiki bar, colorful projections, and a lot of coral. The most monumental technical element was the student orchestra, "The Bikini Bottom Boogie Band" and foley artist, Mary Sullivan. They composed hilarious sound effects and tropical music to set the animated mood.

Walnut Hills High School's production of The SpongeBob Musical was a comedic, feel-good experience that incorporated the heart-warming feeling of making a difference through friendship.

Patchy the Pirate (Wolf Singer) interrupts the show to sing a protest song about pirate prejudice in Walnut Hills High School’s Production of The SpongeBob Musical.

Review by Malayna Pope, Randall K. Cooper High School Critic Team

Dive into a nostalgic and heart-warming tale of a certain square sponge with the cast and crew of Walnut Hills High School's The Spongebob Musical. With their high energy cast, seamless transitions, and perfectly executed choreography, this cast and crew kept audiences laughing and remembering the times of their youth through this stage adaptation of a timeless TV series.

The Spongebob Musical takes the audience down to the town of Bikini Bottom where the ever optimistic Spongebob Squarepants makes everyday the best day. When Bikini Bottom is threatened by the eruption of Mt. Humongous, Spongebob teams up with his friends Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks to save the town and prove he is more than "just a simple sponge."

The cast and crew of Walnut Hills High School's The Spongebob Musical took on the challenge of notable characters and a high-energy show through their masterful set and lighting designs as well as their excellently developed characters. There was never a dull moment onstage as every actor embodied their character down to their vocals and movements. To pair with these excellent performances were masterful technical elements featuring simple yet detailed sets and purposeful lighting designs.

Leo Jenkins brought Spongebob Squarepants to life through his excellent physicality and versatile vocals. Not to be outshone by the titular role, Sandy Cheeks, played by Diana Hutchinson, captivated audiences through her rich vocals and her strong stage presence in this complex role as she complimented Spongebob in their journey to save the day.

In her humorous performance as the naive Patrick Star, Valerie Dreith rounded out this execellent main trio. No story is complete without a villain, and Brandon Donaldson handled the role of Plankton with such diabolical facials as he brought audiences in on his sinister plans.

The technical team of this production executed the challenge of bringing to life such an iconic setting through their amazing sets and complimentary lighting. The simple set design included a captivating mountain as well as some stationary colorful rocks and flowers that rounded out the underwater world. The vibrant lighting helped showcase the pivotal moments in scenes as well as set the various different moods throughout the show. Mary Sullivan's live foley effects brought the show together through everything from the clicking of Mr. Krabs to the peril crashing of a boulder.

The cast and crew of Walnut Hills High School's The Spongebob Musical kept the audience laughing through their high energy, phenomenal vocals, and clean sets while teaching us all that we belong and also can be more than "just a simple sponge."

Squidward (Emma Dalton) does a song and dance routine with sea anemone hallucinations in Walnut Hills High School’s Production of The SpongeBob Musical.

Excerpts From Other Top Reviews

"The stage crew, led by Production Stage Manager Lucia Johns, was immaculate, with every set change, even those in the middle of scenes, was done with great execution and attention to detail, with all the scenes surrounding the volcano being particularly impressive. The sounds of the show, designed by Mary Sullivan, were done particularly well, as everything from sound effects to narrations from the French Narrator were always on time and fit the scene like a glove."

-Sam Hicks-Jirkins, Mariemont High School Critic Team

"The most notable pieces of tech were the set and the costumes. The set, designed by Chloe Goodman, was beautiful; in act two, the main set was of Mt. Humongous, which creatively utilized four large pieces that were moved into many configurations as the characters moved up the mountain. Chloe's design was captivating and an amazing achievement. The costumes, designed by Sadie Gray and worked on by Sadie and crew, perfectly resembled the characters' outfits in the cartoon. They were colorful and beautiful. Some of the standout costumes were Karen's futuristic silver dress and purple hair, Perch Perkin's suit designed after the classic tv "no signal" stripes, and Pearl's pretty pink outfit with beautiful pink hair and some stellar platform boots."

-Berkley Dixon, Ursuline Academy Critic Team

"Owen Cummings brought the needed sarcasm and comedy to his character Perch Perkins. Throughout the chaos in Act II, he was able to deliver comedic lines with precise timing. Even targeting a few audience members with his jokes."

-Rachel Bohl, Mariemont High School Critic Team

"Technically, the production captured the magic of the show perfectly. The citizens of Bikini Bottom came to life with colorful costumes and makeup. Student Folley artist Nyla Shahanavaz filled the show with hilarious sound effects like Mr. Krabs crab legs, or Squidward's tentacles hitting the ground. One of the most impressive moments in the show featured several moving set pieces that contorted and shifted into different parts of the treacherous trail to the top of Bikini Bottom's active volcano."

-Alex Bertucci, Campbell County High School Critic Team

"The one and only SpongeBob SquarePants was played by Leo Jenkins. Leo exhibited SpongeBob's cheerful energy every moment onstage. His singing voice was clear and well controlled in songs like (Just A) Simple Sponge." Diana Hutchinson was cast as the rodeo squirrel Sandy Cheeks. Diana understood the emotional depth when Sandy faced being a social outcast because of her differences, and carried some of the more serious parts of the show. She had a powerful voice that shone through on her solos, but could also balance in order to create perfect harmony in songs like 'Hero is my Middle Name.'"

-Bailey Klei, Campbell County High School Critic Team

"The vivacious supporting cast of sea friends helped to fully bring the show to life. Ella Vaughn's vocal performance as Pearl was a highlight of the night, as were Owen Cummings's reports as Perch Perkins. The shows villains, Plankton and Karen, played by Brando Donaldson and Lily Canter, were also hilarious in their plans to exploit the citizens of Bikini Bottom in their demise."

-Anna Grace Hull, Ursuline Academy

"Behind the scenes, the crew brought the production to the next level. With plenty of sound effects, done by Mary Sullivan through the art of Foley, helped replicate the sounds of the kids show this musical is based upon. Both sets, done by Chloe Goodman, Ryan Peerless and Graham Gardner, and crew and costumes, done by Sadie Gray and crew, made the show bright and filled the stage with color. Matching the vivid, almost neon colors of the television show was truly an impressive task. The set team was met with further challenges making Mount Humongous. A maneuvering mountain that had to easily reassemble onstage, including a shocking horizontal ladder that Jenkins and Hutchinson had to climb across required significant creativity and rehearsal."

-Samantha Heilman, Highlands High School Critic Team


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