Creating The SpongeBob Musical Set: A Behind the Scene Perspective

Between May 4th and 7th, the Woodgrove High School theater department performed The SpongeBob Musical, a nearly two and a half hour play, in which a volcano threatens to destroy Bikini Bottom, the main setting of the show. The musical follows the events that unfold in the days preceding the scheduled eruption, as SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy have to come up with a plan to stop the volcano, while also having to work against Plankton and his nefarious plans. 

Most of the work done to make the play come to life occurred during Mrs. Pruzina’s 3rd block Technical Theater class. These projects consisted of constructing, painting and decorating sets; organizing and creating props; and costume work. 

Before official construction started, two platforms were transported to Mr. Jose’s workshop, where he and his 6th block class worked to construct legs on the bottom of each platform. This work was outsourced to Mr. Jose and his class to ensure that the platforms were constructed correctly according to OSHA certification and could support the weight of many actors standing on them. Once the platforms had been “legged,” construction of the set officially began on March 22nd by constructing flats, vertical set pieces used to create backgrounds and scenery. There were three flats in total; one for SpongeBob’s pineapple, another for Patrick’s rock, and a third for Squidward’s moai house. There were also two existing flats, which were much larger in size and had been used in previous shows. These flats were modified to create Mount Humongous, the large volcano featured in the musical.

The set designer for the play was Francis Arlington, who had a specific vision on what the set should look like. This included utilizing pieces of trash, such as plastic bottles, cardboard, and soda cans as a realistic representation of how the ocean collects garbage and waste pollution. One of Francis’s ideas involved using thin pieces of wood at the top of Mount Humongous, attaching red tissue paper to the ends, and blowing it with fans to create the look of burning matches. Thomas Louis, the actor who played Patrick, suggested that the cardboard boxes used for the Bikini Bottom houses be modified to look like car mufflers. Pieces of trash were attached to the pit wall, as well as Mount Humongous. Even the Super Sea Star Savior headpiece worn by Patrick was created from a milk carton. 

Many creative design choices were executed on set, such as using pool noodles cut to create coral and barnacles. Blue and green fabric was hung from the lighting battens, and the iconic flowers seen in the background of every show were cut from foam and attached to the walls on each side of the stage. 

In the show, Squidward’s workstation at the Krusty Krab takes the form of a boat with a cash register where he takes orders. To create this, a triangular end piece of a bookshelf formerly used in the library was reconfigured by attaching pieces of baseboard trim to make the front of the boat and then painted white with a red stripe. 

For the scene with Squidward and the Electric Skates concert, a tap-dance floor, which had been partially assembled by a previous year’s’ tech class, was fully finished to create a performance platform. Concrete was poured into 5 gallon buckets with pieces of PVC pipe inside of them, which would hold a frame for a band shell structure in place. 

Over the course of nearly 6 weeks, a crew of over 25 people worked hard to make the set of SpongeBob the Musical a reality. Sandwich boards advertising the play were created and placed around the community, lights were programmed,and costumes were sewn. On the day of opening night, batteries were put into the cast microphones, and there was an overwhelming amount of excitement and anticipation. 

SpongeBob the Musical set record attendance numbers for Woodgrove and is considered by many to be one of the best plays the school has hosted.