The Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts (MCAA) will be going under the sea this week as its beginning drama students launch into a youth edition of Nickelodeon’s “The SpongeBob Musical.” Based on the animated television series “SpongeBob SquarePants,” this colorful production features original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, and T.I., with added tracks from David Bowie, and the original voice actors of SpongeBob, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley.
MCAA’s production has been double casted to include a total of 40 student performers with over 60 kids involved between the cast and crew.
“This means approximately 15% of the entire school is involved in this show,” said Matt DeMeritt, MCAA’s theater instructor. “That’s a chunk. It’s one of the bigger events we do over the year, even larger than the spring musical.”
The majority of these students are seventh and eighth graders who have been taking beginners acting classes with DeMeritt at MCAA. A few high school students have been thrown into the mix as well with special opportunities given to senior students Xzalia Lauofo and Sarah Cambra, who have taken on the role of director. Cambra has been focussing on the show’s choreography while Lauofo has taken on more general directorial duties such as blocking, coaching, and management.
“I love theater and being able to do a part that I’ve never experienced was super exciting,” said Lauofo. “It’s been hard, obviously, but also really rewarding. The biggest difference was being able to see how the backstage works. I’ve even had to notate each black out and the times that the stage crew should be coming on.”
“I’ve never done anything like this before and I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way,” added Cambra excitedly. “You have to remember, they don’t know as much as you and always strive to lead them with words of encouragement.”
In the future, DeMeritt said he hopes to expand this directorial opportunity for seniors into more of a practicum class or production course.
“Right now, they’re my TA’s, so they get general elective credit for doing probably the most difficult assignment of their high school career,” said DeMeritt. “So, my hope is that in the future, I can get a UC-approved practicum course or production experience that can look good on their college applications.”
In addition to all the entertainment onstage, Valeri Mathews, an MCAA teacher overseeing the production’s technical side, said that the students were also charged with getting the sets painted, running sound, and designing the lights.
“It’s really a student-run production,” added Mathews.
“The SpongeBob Musical” will open tonight at 7 p.m. in the South Auditorium of Marysville High School, located at 12 18th St. in Marysville. Additional performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee also scheduled for Saturday.
Tickets will be available at the door or online at charter.mjusd.com. The cost of admissions is $10 per person or $5 for students, seniors, and military. For more information, call 530-749-6157.