My Experience in the ‘World Renowned Bikini Bottom’


photo by Zach Kennett

The SpongeBob cast after performing “When the Going Gets Tough,” choreographed by me and Sophia Holobaugh.

Natalie Becker, Opinion editor

With EHS Drama Club’s production of “The SpongeBob Musical” opening this weekend, I thought I’d share my experience working backstage and onstage as an actor and one of the student choreographers for the show.

I like to start off by saying that this is one of the best shows I’ve ever worked on. The positive energy from both the cast and crew is one of the reasons this show works so well. I think this is the most unified we as a company have been in a long time.

The Rehearsals

The actors’ rehearsals began in January. We would have music rehearsals on Monday and go through every ensemble number. The roadblock for this show was that we had many snow days on Mondays. It took us a tad longer to learn our music than in normal productions. But now that we’re here, this is probably the best we’ve ever sounded as an ensemble.

The original rehearsal calendar was separated by scene and only the people in those scenes were to show up. But in February our directors, Ashley Melton, Jeff Schmidt and Emily Ottwein, thought it would be best to have anyone not called for rehearsal to be in the choir room working on the music. I think this method worked super well and got us to our goal faster.

One of my main duties for “SpongeBob” was to choreograph two dance numbers: “Super Sea Star Savior” and “When the Going Gets Tough.” This was my first time working with so many people for a dance and I got to use tambourines and skirts. Collaborating with junior Sophia Holobaugh, who plays Karen, on “Going Gets Tough” was such an amazing experience. Our styles mixed very well and we added the hype to the number.

I also have a featured ensemble role.

Juniors Sydney Andrews, Brenden McCauley and I all play characters in a pop boy band called the Electric Skates. Mrs. Melton put Andrews and McCauley on hoverboards and I had my mom rent skates from the YMCA for my character. I had to learn how to skate on quads, play a fake guitar and sing at the same time.

Tech Week

I was prepared for tech week with my skates, but during tech week I became anxious. Any time I was on stage in the skates, I slipped and almost fell. One time I almost fell into the pit, where the orchestra and the pit director, Cathy Vano, resides during the show. I made the executive decision, along with the approval from Mrs. Melton to just go on a hoverboard. Luckily she has multiple hoverboards, so it wasn’t hard to get one.

Speaking of tech week, this was the most fun I’ve had during a tech week. My cheeks hurt after every run because I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing.

I think that’s why SpongeBob works so well. It’s not the fact that we worked our butts off till 6:30 every day for two weeks. It’s the fact that the show provides some truly unforgettable and fun moments. 

When I was backstage waiting in the wings, I heard techies reciting the songs and saying their favorite lines from the show. That’s usually normal during any tech week because it gets ingrained into their heads from hearing it so much. But the techies singing “SpongeBob” wasn’t out of repetitiveness. I think they genuinely loved listening to the show. I definitely think they loved working on the show too.

For the first two days of tech week, we ran without costumes and makeup and just used sound and lighting. Senior Noelle Sonderegger, who plays SpongeBob, suggested to all of the actors to wear PJs for the first day. So I pulled up to tech week in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup pants and was prepared for the next two weeks.

I thought adding costumes and makeup would make me even more stressed. But I felt very relaxed and it kind of felt like I forgot something, but I didn’t.

Mrs. Melton told the actors we didn’t have any specific hair requirements for the show. So, to feel like a true rocker, I spent $5 on blue hair clip-ins from Amazon. I’m thankful that only one of them has broken.

This show required a lot of quick changes for the ensemble. With 30 people in two separate groups and about eight people in the costume crew, I thought we’d have to hold for long periods of time just for people to get out to the stage. There were not many of those and the costume crew was very efficient with helping us actors.

I’d like to give a special shout out to the wardrobe supervisors, senior Caidyn Crouch and sophomore Lillian Davis. Without them and their crew, this show would not be possible.

The In-School Performance

The whole cast, including me, were balls of nerves going into school early on Thursday. As Mrs. Melton always says, our peers are our most lively and harshest audiences. But after sophomore Kaela Johnson, who plays Patchy the Pirate, stormed onto the stage demanding a group selfie with the audience, the nerves went away.

The EHS students loved every minute of “SpongeBob.” TigerTalk Podcasting Club had an exclusive coverage of the show where they interviewed the audience about how they felt about the show. The response was overwhelmingly positive. One girl said that she thought our production was “a Broadway musical.”

Hearing the positive comments about dances I choreographed, scenes I was in and anything to do with the ensemble, I was so enthralled. TigerTalk made my day with their coverage.

Mrs. Melton and the other directors strive to make this show as best as it possibly can be. Especially when our show is being adjudicated for the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Our show has to maintain a certain professionalism when it comes to the adjudication process and we had to make sure we followed the regulations exactly.

What does this mean for “SpongeBob”? Well, Mrs. Melton, Holobaugh and I could be nominated for Outstanding Choreography. The leads and supporting cast could be nominated for their outstanding performances. The ensemble could get a nomination. Tech crews could get nominated for the designs. Most importantly, we could have the opportunity to perform at the Fabulous Fox in May.

Having this added level of stress to three days of shows is nerve-wracking. But I know it will be worth it if I get to perform at the Fox with my favorite group of people. It would also be a great sendoff for us seniors.

I don’t let the fact that this is my last show at EHS bother me. I just strive to remember to make each day “the best day ever.”