Nautical Nonsense on the Eastside Stage

After months of preparation, Spongebob opening garners huge success



For most Eastside students, last Thursday was an ordinary evening. But for the residents of Bikini Bottom, it was the last night before the end.

Since September, the Eastside thespians have spent their evenings in the auditorium preparing for the Alachua County premiere of Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical, an unexpectedly complex show based on the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.

When a giant volcano threatens to destroy Bikini Bottom, it is up to Spongebob and his team to stop it from erupting and save the day — but it won’t be easy. 

Full of songs from an all-star musician lineup, explosive dance numbers, evil schemes and cultist sardines, the show is far from what most would expect.

“I think that this show is full of surprises,” Luke Seeley, playing Perch Perkins, explained. “You’re never gonna know what’s coming next.” 

This show marks Director Tammy Meyers’ 53rd and final production with Eastside. In the midst of intense preparation, Meyers has worked closely with her successor Daniel Lytton and choreographer Calypso Hadid to ensure the show is her biggest and best yet.

Lily Eyman, playing Spongebob Squarepants, has offered insight into how this show’s rehearsal process measures up to previous productions.

“We put a lot more time and effort into making sure everything was really really exciting and something the audience would really enjoy,” Eyman said. “The rest of the shows we’ve done have also been really good shows, but I feel like this one really caters to what an audience might see.”

“This show we had a lot more time and preparation that really paid off,” Seeley added. “We’ve been able to put a lot of effort into little details and technical moments.”

The extra work from the cast and crew seemed to pay off, with overwhelmingly positive responses from audience members. 

One senior, Adriel Bolocon, highlighted some of his favorite aspects after opening night.

Rory Sowers (center) lights up the stage as Sheldon J. Plankton

“I think that the performances were all outstanding,” Bolocon stated. “They were all so distinct and there was so much life and character that came from every actor.”

“I think that my definite favorite was Rory Sowers as Plankton. He just brought so much physical comedy in his mannerisms and the way he conducted himself as this evil, diabolical, Napoleonic complex kind of small man. I thought it brought so much humor to the play.”

Maggie Newman, another student in the audience, was enthusiastic to share her opinion.

“I was transfixed by every single performer in the show,” Newman professed. “It was lovely from beginning to end.”

Also in the crowd was Eastside’s own principal Mr. Leroy Williams.

“The show was amazing,” Leroy enthused.  “It was one of the best shows ever it was humorous, entertaining, warming, electric … [they] did a phenomenal job. I was just amazed.”

Lily Eyman (left) and Flora Xu (right) star as Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star.

Beyond the performance of the actors, the cast and audience alike were moved by the depth of the messages the show communicates, which have taken on many interpretations by those who have seen it.

Eyman has offered what she has learned while starring in the show. 

“The show is super relevant to people of all ages,” Eyman explained. “There might be a misconception that it’s a kids show, but it teaches a lot of life lessons about the importance of teamwork and all working together as one. Throughout our rehearsal process we have learned that and applying it to our show which is about that same idea is a really incredible thing to be able to see.” 

Even without the same hands-on experience as the cast, Bolocon took away a similar message.

“I think it was really clever to have some of these really contemporary modern social problems put in this package of a kids show. Some people might not take it seriously for its comedy and its childish kind of sensibilities, but I think that there’s a really mature story about acceptance of different people’s values and of different groups.” Bolocon said. 

“I think that the theme of acceptance within the play is really mature for a show that is based on a childhood cartoon.”

The show is running for an additional four performances, and it’s not too late to purchase tickets here or at the door.