The Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA) is an arts high school in Hagerstown (Western Maryland) supported by a foundation that works to enhance arts education at BISFA and in the community. According to Executive Director Andrew S. Lay of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts! Foundation, “Academically, the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts is the #1 high school in Washington County; among the top 10 in Maryland for arts magnet high schools; and in the top 100 of similar high schools across the USA. Students [enjoy] the experience of creating excellence in their various arts disciplines while following an honors/AP college preparatory curriculum.”
Currently, the school is presenting their annual, all-school musical, “The SpongeBob Musical,” at the Maryland Theatre. The entire school is encouraged to participate and students from all eight disciplines are invited to be part of the production, highlighting the gifts and talents of the entire school body. They act, perform in the orchestra, work behind the scenes running lights and sound, create props, build scenery, or produce promotional imagery and video. There is still one more weekend to see the show and information and a review is below.
Friday, April 21 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 23 at 2:30 PM
Tickets range from $10-$25. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting here, in-person at the Maryland Theatre Box Office, 21 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown, MD 21740 or by calling (301) 790-2000. Group sales are available for groups of eight or more and can be purchased by calling (301) 790-2000.
For SpongeBob SquarePants fans, the “Best Day Ever” occurred in 2016 when “The SpongeBob Musical” first appeared on stage in Chicago. The show soon moved to Broadway, eventually earning 12 Tony nominations (winning one). The award-winning musical is now appearing at the Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown, MD, presented by the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA), a fine arts magnet school serving Washington County and surrounding areas. The student actors, musicians, and designers prove that “Best Day Ever” can be experienced today.
The production is a delight for both the eye and the ear…the heart is satisfied as well!
The show is both a celebration of, and an homage to, the beloved character of SpongeBob and his friends in the undersea world of Bikini Bottom. The musical follows tropes from the popular television show: SpongeBob wishes to impress his boss, the money-obsessed Mr. Krabs, but Mr. Krabs does not take him seriously. His friends Patrick (a starfish) and Sandy (a squirrel with an aptitude for science) wonder about their own places in the world as well. All of this is endangered by the threatened eruption of a nearby volcano. While the town descends into comedic chaos, SpongeBob and his friends put aside their own concerns to pool their skills to try to save the day. The show also has several amusing interruptions from SpongeBob superfan Patchy the Pirate (played by Tim Murray) and crew.
Simply put, the show is outstanding, equaling professional productions in terms of musical quality, acting, and staging. Nathan Lushbaugh is excellent in his portrayal of the enthusiastic SpongeBob both in action and in song. Will Turney is an admirable Patrick Star, showing both his distinctive slow wit and also his occasional ennobling qualities as well. He (along with a group of sardines) are stellar in the Jesus Christ Superstar-like number, “Super Sea Star Savior.” Krisalyn Nance is very good as Sandy the Squirrel. Aiden Bohlander is an outstanding Squidward, capturing both his arrogance and self-doubt, and excellent in the unexpectedly delightful song “I’m Not a Loser.” Manuel Mejias and Madryn Hanser are simultaneously brilliant and delightfully bizarre in their portrayals of the evil genius Sheldon Plankton and his computer wife, Karen. All of the actors do great work in capturing the verbal mannerisms, making it easy to accept them as their cartoon character counterparts.
The staging is exceptional, with light used to suggest the surreal, but cheerful, undersea setting of the town of Bikini Bottom. Framed with animated bubbles rising upward, the stage is reminiscent of an aquarium. The flamboyant costumes are similarly well-done—both outlandish and colorful but without being garish.
The show features a wildly diverse range of music with songs composed by such diverse talents as Cyndi Lauper, Steve Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, the Flaming Lips, David Bowie, They Might Be Giants, and Panic! At the Disco, as well as SpongeBob melodies in the style of Broadway show tunes. This soundtrack is performed live by BISFA student musicians—including a Foley sound effects artist—with skill.
Directed by Lead Theatre Teacher David Ryan, BISFA’s “The SpongeBob Musical” is an excellent show, one enjoyed equally by this reviewer and by his fourteen-year-old daughter, who also attended. The production is a delight for both the eye and the ear and will please anyone with even a passing enjoyment of SpongeBob. With an abundance of gleefully silly humor and sly satire, the show’s concern with issues of respect, belonging, and caring means that the heart is satisfied as well. This leaves the audience feeling, in the words of SpongeBob himself, “extra ecstatified”!
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.
About Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA)
Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA) is a Washington County Public Arts Magnet High School which opened its doors to students in 2009. BISFA provides students from all over the region with a rigorous academic education and intensive pre-professional training in one of six arts and two technology based arts areas: creative writing , dance, instrumental music, theatre, visual arts, vocal music, computer game development & animation (CGDA), and photo & cinematography. Admission to the school is determined by an audition, portfolio, and interview process based on students’ interest and potential in their selected discipline.
About The Maryland Theatre
Located in downtown Hagerstown, MD, The Maryland Theatre is the anchor of the Arts & Entertainment District and has a mission to provide quality entertainment, educational and cultural offerings to the community at large. The Maryland Theatre and Performing Arts Center is proud to serve as the home of regional arts organizations such as Symphony Orchestra, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, City Ballet School, Hagerstown Community Concert Association, Authentic Community Theatre, and the Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant; and as the co-presenter of the annual New Year’s Eve Krumpe’s Donut Drop.