This summer, dive into Bikini Bottom as Kokandy Productions kicks off its 2023 season with Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical, directed by JD Caudill, playing June 22 – September 3, 2023 at The Chopin Studio Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. This “spectacular, effervescent” show will have audiences swimming with one of our most beloved contemporary pop culture icons. Ready to soak it in? Tickets are now on sale at bit.ly/SpongeBobChicago. The press opening is Friday, July 7 at 7 pm.
SpongeBob stars Frankie Leo Bennett as the bright, bold and boldly optimistic SpongeBob SquarePants. He is joined by a motley crew including Sarah Patin (Sandy Cheeks), Isabel Cecilia García (Patrick Star), Tommy Bullington (Eugene H. Krabs), Parker Guidry (Sheldon J. Plankton), Quinn Rigg (Squidward Q. Tentacles), Amy Kim (Karen the Computer) and Jennifer Ledesma (Pearl Krabs). The Bikini Bottom ensemble includes Connar Brown, Maddison Denault, Sydney Genco, Fia Hunter, David Lipschutz, Ele Matelan, Nicky Mendelsohn, Nataki Rennie, Shane Roberie, Quinn Simmons and Kelcy Taylor. Swings include Amelia Bell, Abbey Demorow and Kenny Miller.
The cast of Kokandy Productions’ The SpongeBob Musical includes (top, l to r) Frankie Leo Bennett, Connar Brown, Tommy Bullington, Maddison Denault, Isabel Cecilia García, Sydney Genco and Parker Guidry (middle, l to r) Fia Hunter, Amy Kim, Jennifer Ledesma, David Lipschutz, Nicky Mendelsohn, Sarah Patin and Nataki Rennie and (bottom, l to r) Quinn Rigg, Shane Roberie, Quinn Simmons, Kelcy Taylor, Amelia Bell, Abbey Demorow and Kenny Miller.
The SpongeBob Musical is based on the beloved animated series created by Stephen Hillenburg and features a book by Kyle Jarrow, with original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alexander Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and T.I., and songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley. Additional lyrics are by Jonathan Coulton, with additional music by Tom Kitt. The musical production was conceived by Tina Landau.
When the citizens of Bikini Bottom discover that a volcano will soon erupt and destroy their humble home, SpongeBob and his friends must come together to save the fate of their undersea world. With lives hanging in the balance and all hope lost, a most unexpected hero rises up. The power of optimism really can save the world! This all-singing, all-dancing, dynamic stage show is set to make a splash with audiences young and old.
Kokandy Producing Artistic Director Derek Van Barham comments, “We’re so excited to dive into our 11th season – a season with a splash zone! We really couldn’t think of a better way to spend the summer than The SpongeBob Musical, inviting Chicago into our very own Bikini Bottom. Just the mention of the show, its characters and its uplifting message are enough to brighten anyone’s day. There’s something for everyone in the world we’re going to create. Come on in – the water’s (more than) fine!”
The production team includes Jonathan Berg-Einhorn (he/him, Scenic Designer), Jakob Alderhalden (they/them, Costume Designer), G "Max" Maxin IV (he/him, Lighting Designer), Mike Patrick (he/him, Sound Designer), Patrick McGuire (he/they, Properties Design), Steve Labedz (they/them, Projection Design), Lolly Extract (she/her, Puppetry Design), Sydney Genco (she/her, Make-Up Designer), Keith Ryan (he/him, Wig Designer), Ele Matelan (she/her, Foley Design), Quinn Simmons (they/them, Assistant Choreographer), Corbin Paulino (he/him, Stage Manager), Megan Flanery (she/her, Assistant Stage Manager), Leo Batutis (they/them, Assistant Director), J Alan (J/her, Associate Choreographer), Brennan Urbi (he/they, Casting Associate), Nicholas Reinhart (he/him, Production Manager), Manny Ortiz (he/him, Technical Director), Lynsy Folckomer (she/her, Sound Engineer), Scot Kokandy (he/him, Executive Producer) and Derek Van Barham (he/him, Producing Artistic Director).
Title: Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical
Based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg
Book by Kyle Jarrow
Musical Production Conceived by Tina Landau
Directed by JD Caudill
Music Direction by Bryan McCaffrey
Choreography by Jenna Schoppe
Cast (in alphabetical order): Frankie Leo Bennett (he/him, SpongeBob SquarePants), Connar Brown (she/her, Mayor/SG1/Krabby Patty Fish, u/s SpongeBob), Tommy Bullington (he/him, Eugene H. Krabs), Maddison Denault (she/they, Buster/Electric Skate 1, u/s Pearl), Isabel Cecilia García (they/them, Patrick Star), Sydney Genco (she/her, Perch/Sardine 5, u/s Plankton), Parker Guidry (they/them, Sheldon J. Plankton), Fia Hunter (she/her, Mrs. Puff), Amy Kim (she/her, Karen the Computer), Jennifer Ledesma (she/her, Pearl Krabs), David Lipschutz (he/him, Patchy/Electric Skate 3, u/s Squidward), Ele Matelan (she/her, Foley Artist Fish), Nicky Mendelsohn (he/him, Old Man Jenkins/Electric Skate 2, u/s Patrick), Sarah Patin (they/them, Sandy Cheeks), Nataki Rennie (she/her, Sardine 2, u/s Sandy), Quinn Rigg (he/him, Squidward Q. Tentacles), Shane Roberie (he/him, Larry the Lobster), Quinn Simmons (they/them, Sardine 1, u/s Karen) and Kelcy Taylor (she/her, Sardine 3, u/s Electric Skate 1).
Swings: Amelia Bell (she/her, u/s ensemble), Abbey Demorow (she/her, u/s ensemble) and Kenny Miller (he/him, ensemble u/s).
Location: The Chopin Theatre (Studio), 1543 W Division St. in Chicago
Dates: Previews: Thursday, June 22 at 7 pm, Friday, June 23 at 7 pm, Saturday, June 24 at 7 pm, Sunday, June 25 at 5 pm, Thursday, June 29 at 7 pm, Friday, June 30 at 7 pm, Saturday, July 1 at 7 pm, Sunday, July 2 at 5 pm and Thursday, July 6 at 7 pm
Press performance: Friday, July 7 at 7 pm
Regular run: Saturday, July 8 – Sunday, September 3, 2023
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm; Sundays at 5 pm
Tickets: Previews $25 (with code “PREVIEW). Regular run $40. Students/senior $30. There will be a limited number of $15 tickets available for students and artists for each performance. Tickets are now on sale at bit.ly/SpongeBobChicago.
About the Artists
JD Caudill (Director, they/them) is a queer director, artistic director, literary manager and music director, whose recent direction includes I Promised Myself to Live Faster (Hell in a Handbag), After the Blast (Broken Nose Theatre), Southern Comfort (Pride Films and Plays), Bechdel Fests 4-6 + 8 (Broken Nose Theatre), Book of Shadows (Broken Nose Theatre), and other plays at The New Colony, Haven Theatre, The Runaways Lab Theatre, New American Folk Theatre, Hobo Junction, 20% Theatre, Paragon Theatre, Otherworld Theatre, Arc Theatre, 16th Street Theatre, Stage Left, The Syndicates and Red Theatre. They are interim artistic director of Broken Nose Theatre, where they’ve served as a literary manager and ensemble member for the past 5 years, and a proud ensemble member of Hell in a Handbag of seven years. As a director, their mission more than ever is to create queer art for everyone, for they want queer audiences to see themselves onstage more authentically than ever before, and to help non-queer audiences build empathy and understanding for our community.
Bryan McCaffrey (Music Director, he/him) is thrilled to be joining Kokandy in bringing Bikini Bottom to Chicago this summer! Previous projects have included Passing Strange and New Faces (Porchlight Music Theatre), Jack Off The Beanstalk and Christmas Karol (PrideArts), Guys and Dolls, Parade, The Full Monty, Something Rotten and Spring Awakening (Theatre Nebula) and The Addams Family (Williams Street Reparatory).
Jenna Schoppe (Choreographer, she/her) makes her Kokandy debut, and couldn’t be prouder to be choreographing SpongeBob. Previous choreography credits include: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Godspell, Once Upon a Mattress and The Threepenny Opera (Theo Ubique); Yank: a WW2 Love Story (Pride Films and Plays – 2018 Jeff Award for Best Choreography); Nunsense, Call Me Madam, Do Re Mi and The Rink (Porchlight Music Theatre); Mamma Mia, (Highland Park Players); Bobbie Clearly (Steep Theatre) and The Producers (Nightblue Performing Arts – Jeff Award Nomination).
About Kokandy Productions
Founded in 2010, Kokandy Productions seeks to leverage the heightened reality of musical theatre to tell complex and challenging stories, with a focus on contributing to the development of Chicago-based musical theatre artists, and raising the profile of Chicago's non-Equity musical theatre community.
The company's artistic staff is comprised of Derek Van Barham (Producing Artistic Director), Scot T. Kokandy (Executive Producer) and Adrian Abel Azevedo & Leda Hoffman (Artistic Associates). The Board of Directors includes Preston Cropp, Scot T. Kokandy, Danielle Sparklin and Katie Svaicer.
For additional information, visit www.kokandyproductions.com.