by Curtis Holbrook
It’s a big week for us Bikini Bottom citizens in SpongeBob SquarePants The Broadway Musical, as well as for the entire Broadway community..... IT’S TONY TIME, BABY! As we gear up for the final push of awards season, I thought it would be fun to share with my fellow theater lovers just what goes into creating a Tony performance.
It has truly been fascinating and awe-inspiring to watch our remarkable leaders - Tina Landau & Co. - navigate how to best represent our show when it comes to a nationally televised performance. It is very rare for any Broadway show to be able to film something for camera exactly how it functions in the show. This is because of many different reasons: dealing with some sort of time constraint, numbers not working out of context, blocking or choreography not working as well for camera… you get the idea. How do you tell the story in the clearest way but also still infuse the performance with the wacky, bombastic, subtle, important, cartoon-ish, NOT cartoon-ish, fun, non-sensical, relatable, human, non-human DNA that our show possesses? Yes, all of those things need to be represented in three-ish minutes, because that is our show.
The first thing that happens is our creative team comes up with what they think is the best possible performance for this specific appearance. Once that decision is made, they inform us as to what number we will present and what the game plan/focus will be. Now, for the Tony Awards specifically, our team has the crazy task of cutting what is normally an almost six-minute number down to three-ish. Woof! But, just like the surgeons that our creatives were in fine-tuning our show’s final product, they have managed to edit our number to still include all the things that make the it spectacular.
Here’s how the magic comes together: We went into a rehearsal studio a couple of weeks ago after a Wednesday matinee, and learned the cuts musically and then married that with what needed to change choreographically. The next Wednesday night we presented our finalized number to the Tony Award creative and production team, and they filmed what is known as a “Scratch Tape." This tape is used by their team to come up with a plan for camera blocking (which camera angles will be the most impactful). This past Wednesday morning, we had a clean-up rehearsal for camera blocking at Radio City and then the actual camera blocking on Thursday! Finally, Sunday is the big day! All of the shows will go to Radio City Music Hall in the morning for a full dress rehearsal, then go back to our theaters and do a matinee performance and then turn right around to do final preparations to appear on the TONY AWARDS! Wowza!
It’s a super exciting time for us, especially because we have a lot of Broadway debuts in our show, AND they get to dance on the Tony Awards while making their debut! I just remember my 16-year-old self watching The Lion King on the Tony Awards with my Mom (who was my dance teacher) and thinking, “Wow... I hope I can perform on the Tony Awards one day.” As Squidward says in our show, “Finally Momma! My moment has come!”