When it was announced that the bright-eyed yellow sponge and his aquatic compatriots of "Spongebob Squarepants" were being brought to life in a musical adaptation, doubt and criticism rained down on the idea like it was monsoon season.

The public’s apprehensive response was not, however, without merit as the release of the live-action musical of animated motion picture, "Shrek" was a major flop with live audiences. But, just as it seemed that "Spongebob" would meet the same sad fate as the green-skinned ogre, avant-garde director Tina Landau washed up onto the scene and molded the hit 90’s cartoon into a Broadway hit.

Towing the line between cartoony and classic theater

One major hurdle was conceptualizing a cast of animated marine life (sans Sandy Cheeks, the scientific squirrel) into live action characters. In an interview with "Playbill," Landau expressed her disinterest in creating a “theme park show.”

The director abhorred the thought of encasing human actors in foam costumes or prosthetics and chose a more offbeat approach instead.

What intrigued Landau the most about "Spongebob Squarepants" was the immersive yet bizarre world of the titular character’s hometown, Bikini Bottom. Landau was fascinated by how the entirety of Bikini Bottom was represented by “found objects.” As a result, the director steered the production’s creative helm towards the Dada-esque, instructing the designs to follow a “DIY mentality.” Using unorthodox materials such as hula hoops, skateboards, and umbrellas, and set designer, David Zinn brought the nautical wonders of Bikini Bottom to life, gracefully omitting the obnoxious theme park vibes expected of such a flamboyantly colored cartoon microcosm.

The obstacle of casting

Yet again, Landau’s took creative license and chose actors based on how well they embodied the spirit and physicality of their cartoon counterparts. Moreover, Landau opted to use color palettes and makeup to create flattering costumes that served as an homage to the animated characters. Spongebob’s actor donned his signature yellow in the form of a checkered button-down, red tie, and plaid pants (including, of course, his squeaky black shoes).

Patrick wore a pink Hawaiian shirt and green swim trunks and Sandy Cheeks sported a white pantsuit and afro.

But it was the music of the show, that had Spongebob critics and fans alike hot on their toes.

Landau recruited an all-star composition team to create the musical’s score. Legends such as Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie contributed to the soundtrack.

Even Panic! At the Disco, T.I,Sara Bareilles, and the Plain White T’s were in on the musical action. With such big-shot composers on the bandwagon, the quality of the score appeared to be solid, but expectations were not. Landau’s decisions were yet again met with reluctance, the musical’s month-long stint at the Oriental theater in Chicago (during which the show was simply titled, "The Spongebob Musical") was greeted with overall positive reviews, eventually making itself to the great wide way.

Opening night on Broadway

On December 4th, 2017 'Spongebob' made its Broadway debut in New York City’s Palace Theater

The musical was met with a tidal wave of applause, including rave reviews from the particular pen of "New York Times" critic, Ben Brantley.

According to Brantley, the performance of Broadway newcomer, Ethan Slater, who portrayed the star role of Spongebob himself, was perfectly tailored for the role. Lauded for his elasticity in both expression and body as well as his all-encompassing cheer and optimism, Slater’s performance was deemed as iconic as the Joel Gray’s portrayal of the MC in "Cabaret" or Carol Channing’s performance as the title role in "Hello Dolly." Indeed, the short-statured but buff Slater certainly did not meet the expectations of neigh-sayers who expected the live-action Spongebob actor to be gratingly irritating and nerdy. On the contrary, Slater’s promotional videos on YouTube and featured appearances on Backstage and Broadway.com have earned him a place in the hearts of fawning fans, a majority of which are females gushing about his “muscular” arms.

Overall, judging from the public's reception, "Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical" cannonballed into unanticipated greatness!