From Bikini Bottom to Broadway, ‘SpongeBob’ brings the cartoon to life

NEW YORK — There is so much to take in from the moment “SpongeBob on Broadway” begins.

From the moment the curtain rises, the magic begins as the audience watches a cartoon come to life before their very eyes.

While the world of Bikini Bottom and Krabby Patties remain, along with the characters seen in the cartoon, the story line is different.

SpongeBob is trying to prove his worth, by saving his hometown from being destroyed.
Ethan Slater, playing SpongeBob in his Broadway debut, leads the magical show.

"I love SpongeBob," said Slater, "We didn't have cable growing up, so I watched a lot of PBS at home. I'd go to my friends' houses after school and watch SpongeBob."

Slater always knew he wanted to be on Broadway, but never thought it would happen this soon.

While he was attending Vassar College, he got a call to audition for an unnamed Tina Landau project.

"The body of the email said 'I can't say what it is,’ but I think you'll recognize it," recalls Slater. "

There was a picture of SpongeBob at the bottom and I was sitting in my friends dorm room and there was a poster of SpongeBob faces, so I said ‘I think I am auditioning for SpongeBob.’"

Slater recalls auditioning a few minutes of comedy, without singing.

As for the infamous cartoon voice, he said he was too scared to try it.

"I didn't think it was good enough, so I went in it and did it as me, just a little higher pitched," he said, "It was strong and wrong."

Clearly, Slater did something right and got the part, working for the next five years to make the character his own, including the voice.

"I didn't want to do an impression, I wanted to make it my own," said Slater.

Besides the incredible singing, Slater had to train for some wild back-bending moves and change his diet - so, a bit of a lifestyle change trading pizza for protein and quinoa.

Prior to the show opening, Slater trained with Jonathan Nasoon of Transform Fitness.

"In order to backbend and sing and act, it takes so much focus and presence," Nasoon said, "The essence of it is in the breathing."

You can catch Ethan and the cast of SpongeBob SquarePants eight times a week on Broadway.

For tickets, click here.