'The SpongeBob Musical' opening soon

Stage Door brings Bikini Bottom to Hinsdale for a fun romp under the sea

Hinsdale Central senior Caroline Walsh didn't watch "SpongeBob Square Pants" as a kid. But the Hinsdale resident is having a great time playing one of its main characters, Patrick Star, in the Stage Door Fine Arts production set to open Jan. 26 (see Page 24 for details).

"It's such a fun role," said Walsh, who has been doing Stage Door shows since second grade. "He's so goofy and I feel like it's not what I usually do, so I was really excited to be able to do it."

The group of 99 actors, split into three casts, have been rehearsing since October, but Walsh said she doesn't mind devoting so much time to the production.

"It's super fun for me to go through the whole show with my friends who I share the stage with. You're always creating something whenever you do it. I don't think I've ever done a run that's the same as the last."

Maddie Starr, a sophomore at Central and Hinsdale resident, plays Karen the Computer in the show.

"Karen is Plankton's wife," she explained. "We're the two comedic evil geniuses in the show. I kind of work with him to try to help cause an avalanche to stop SpongeBob from completing his plan."

Starr, who takes voice and tap lessons, has enjoyed bringing humor to the stage.

"I like being the comedic role. I love hearing the audience laugh during our scenes," she said.

Both teens said they enjoy working with the younger cast members.

"For the little kids, it's cool to see those friendships that are getting made," Walsh said. "Right now my best friends are people I met here. Some of them don't do it anymore, but we're still really, really close."

Starr, who started with Stage Door in fourth grade, said she enjoys getting to know all the kids in the different casts.

"It's fun to see how they are growing as people, knowing I used to be that young doing these shows," she said.

In addition to a fun story and amusing characters, the show offers a great song list, said Paula Taylor, SDFA co-founder.

"Every song is by a different artist," she said, naming Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Aerosmith and Sara Bareilles. "It's kind of unique in that way, because my musicals are usually written by the same composer. It's fun because they are kind of pop-y - because they are pop writers - but each song is different. Nothing sounds the same."

The show's setting in Bikini Bottom provides a visual panorama for audiences. Taylor said she and co-founder Don Smith and their team work hard to create professional-looking sets.

"Especially a show like 'SpongeBob,' there is so much to look at, there are so many elements," she said. "It comes from a cartoon, so it has to be colorful and spectacular. We do put a lot of pride into the work we put into the sets."

The actors and their director agree the show will appeal to people of all ages - and they don't need to be fans of the cartoon to enjoy it.

"I would say it's not just for younger kids, because it's just a fun and funny show to see," Starr said. "The story isn't just like the TV shows. There's an actual plot to follow. The ending of the show is happy to watch and it's fun to just experience the show, because we do engage with the audience as well."

Everyone in the cast is having fun, Walsh said, which makes for a fun time for audience members.

"Even if you don't know anybody that's going to be in it, it's going to be a super great experience," she said.

Taylor said the show is heartfelt, warm and uplifting.

"You want to do that when it's negative 10 degrees outside,"

she said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean