‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ turns Toby’s Dinner Theatre into pineapple under sea

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'SpongeBob' at Toby's Dinner Theatre (Part 1)

By now, the question has become rhetorical: “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”

The character has become so beloved that we all reply, “SpongeBob SquarePants!”

The Nickelodeon cartoon was adapted into an acclaimed Broadway musical in 2017, and this Friday, “SpongeBob SquarePants” hits Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, Maryland.

“You should come!” Actor DeCarlo Raspberry told WTOP. “It’s not just a show for children. It’s a show for everyone. It’s great, it’s fun, it’s joyous. There’s a few times that you may shed a tear and then you’re gonna laugh. … There is something that has taken place and these three friends have to come together and save the town [of] Bikini Bottom.”

Kyle Dalsimer plays a lead role that earned Ethan Slater a Tony nomination on Broadway.

“It’s definitely one of the most joyful roles I’ve ever gotten to do,” Dalsimer told WTOP. “There’s so much excitement, almost looking at the world through the lens of a kid where it’s the first time you’re seeing everything everyday. Everything is so bright and joyful and, no matter what, it’s going to be a good day because you’re going to make it a good day.”

Raspberry portrays SpongeBob’s starfish sidekick Patrick Star.

“I mean, it’s Patrick Star!” Raspberry said. “I’ve been enjoying playing Patrick working in rehearsals, not just because he is the best friend of SpongeBob and they have their own relationship, but this show explores Patrick a little bit, it gives him a little arc and shows him in a different light. … This show does a great job of highlighting each character.”

That includes Larry the Lobster, who is portrayed by Shane Lowry.

“He’s a fun guy,” Lowry told WTOP. “He’s one of the town people who is just trying to get through this crisis. As SpongeBob says multiple times, ‘It’s the last day and it could be the best day ever.’ … It’s been a lot of fun, very different from any other roles I’ve played.”

Lowry also doubles as the show’s set designer, creating an underwater visual world.

“David Zinn, who originally designed it on Broadway, his idea was things you left at the beach or trash that’s fallen to the bottom of the sea,” Lowry said. “When you look at the cartoon, there are a lot of items recognizable to us humans. … I’ve taken usual, everyday, recyclable objects like water bottles, paper plates, cups and created coral, kelp.”

Best of all, the songbook features original tunes by famous music stars.

“Instead of the usual Broadway musicals where there’s one composer and someone who wrote the script, the team came together and brought a bunch of famous musicians in to write a song or two,” Dalsimer said. “There’s songs from Aerosmith, there’s songs from Panic! at the Disco, there’s songs from Cyndi Lauper, from a bunch of different folks.”

Dalsimer’s favorite song is “Simple Sponge” by Panic! at the Disco.

“The show is filled with such fantastic songs, but my favorite probably is ‘Simple Sponge’ from Panic! at the Disco,” Dalsimer said. “It’s sort of this moment of reflection where SpongeBob isn’t sure if he’s able to accomplish what he needs to. There’s a moment of self doubt. He has to decide whether he’s going to stand up and fight through it.”

Rasberry’s favorite tune is “Super Sea Star Savior” by Yolanda Adams.

“It highlights Patrick, it shows Patrick in a different light,” Raspberry said. “You see him having fun, you see him coming into his own and wanting to be accepted for who he is.”

Lowry’s favorite tune is “Chop to the Top” by Lady A.

“It’s a very motivational song,” Lowry said. “It’s a good wakeup song. I love to wake up in the morning listening to it, it’s a good ‘get you pepped and ready for what’s about to happen in the day’ [song]. You’re going to accomplish what you need to accomplish.”

Of course, Toby’s is a dinner theater, so you can enjoy an underwater-themed buffet.

“I had a chat with one of the chefs … and he’s got a lot of fun ideas for themed foods and we always have a themed drink,” Dalsimer said. “It’s going to be a good time.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'SpongeBob' at Toby's Dinner Theatre (Part 2)

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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