By Chip Chandler 

Are ya ready, kids? West Texas A&M University Theatre will take audiences to visit a pineapple under the sea when “The SpongeBob Musical” hits the stage for a two-weekend run.

The deeply silly, family-friendly musical will be staged at 7:30 p.m. April 14 to 16 and 22 to 23 and 2:30 p.m. April 24 in the Branding Iron Theatre inside the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors and free for WT faculty, staff and students with Buff Gold Card. Call 806-65-2810, email artsboxoffice@wtamu.edu or click here: showtix4u.com/event-details/56948.  

“We wanted to end our season on a high note with a show that can help us make the shift back to normalcy, whatever that means,” said director Callie Hisek, the Royal Brantley Professor of Theatre.

“Normalcy,” however, is overrated in the underwater city Bikini Bottom, where dwells SpongeBob SquarePants (played by Zane Wells, senior theatre major from Amarillo), an eternally optimistic sponge; his best friend, Patrick Star (Hayley Hurst, senior musical theatre major from Melissa), an enthusiastic but somewhat dim starfish; and their pal, Sandy Cheeks (Socorra Carrillo, senior musical theatre major from Amarillo), an adventurous squirrel who lives in a diving suit.

Based on the endlessly popular (and endlessly meme’d) Nickelodeon children’s show, “The SpongeBob Musical” finds the trio fighting to save their home when the volcanic Mount Humongous threatens to erupt.

With specific instructions by playwright Kyle Jarrow to avoid taking direct inspiration from the cartoon or the 2018 Broadway production in the staging, Hisek and her cast believe the show will appeal to everyone — SpongeBob fans and SquarePants newbies alike.

“I watched the show growing up, and there are times I knew the exact episode the script is referring to,” Hurst said. “It’s fun to be part of that world.”

“I actually wasn’t allowed to watch ‘SpongeBob,’” Wells confessed. “My mom was afraid it would make me stupid. She was the first person I texted when I got this role, and we had a good laugh about it.”

“If people come expecting a traditional SpongeBob and Patrick and Sandy, they’re not going to get it,” Hisek said. “And that’s OK. We have a very fun version for them to enjoy.”

The show’s creators encourage diversity in casting, echoing the diversity in the slate of songs written by an awesome array of artists — everyone from David Bowie to Panic! at the Disco to The Flaming Lips to Aerosmith.

“There’s no other show like this,” said musical director Bradley Behrmann, assistant professor of musical theatre. “There’s a pirate song by Sara Bareilles, a friendship ballad by John Legend — it’s insane.”

The cast also includes Michael Olinger, senior musical theatre major from Pearland, as Eugene H. Krabs; R.J. Flud, a junior musical theatre major from Midland, as Sheldon J. Plankton; Lauren Landtroop, a senior musical theatre major from Frenship, as Squidward Q. Tentacles; Abigail Martin, a sophomore musical theatre major from Amarillo, as Pearl Krabs; Ray Barber, a sophomore musical theatre major from Conroe, as Perch Perkins; Joey Hill, a senior musical theatre major from Dallas, as Karen the Computer; Sawyer Landry, a junior theatre major from Canadian, as Larry the Lobster and Gary; Orion Macias, a senior theatre major from El Paso, as the French Narrator; Mackenzie Privett, a senior musical theatre major from Portales, New Mexico, as the Bikini Bottom mayor; Spencer Lee, a senior musical theatre major from Odessa, as Mrs. Puff; Kyle Gentry, a senior theatre major from Bulverde, as Old Man Jenkins; Cassidy Horton, a junior musical theatre major from Odessa, as the foley artist fish and Johnny the Bartender; and Kendall Carnahan, a senior theatre major from Canyon, as Patchy the Pirate.

Ensemble members include Amon Fredinand, a freshman dance major from Amarillo; Edgar Camarena, a junior theatre major from Amarillo; Riley Harbour, a freshman theatre major from Amarillo; Peyton Hastings, a sophomore musical theatre major from Sundown; Hunter Lee, a a junior musical theatre major from Phoenix; Caleb Martinez, a junior musical theatre major from Seagraves; Matt Miller, a sophomore dance major from Lubbock; Nijimbere Irene, a junior musical theatre major from Abilene; Nolan Quintanilla, a junior musical theatre major from Canyon; Jewel Schonhoff, a sophomore musical theatre major from Little Elm; Leighson Selman, a sophomore musical theatre major from Amarillo; Aidan Tsichlis, a senior musical theatre major from Plano; Kaitlin Wampler, a senior theatre major from Wichita Falls; and Penelope Welch, a junior dance major from Frisco.