Granddaughter Hazel (known to me since babyhood as “Hazel Bagel” for absolutely no sensible reason that I can remember) has been destined for the stage since she could chirrup the words of her favourite nursery
rhymes. Over the years since, she has taken on many a starring role in amateur productions, from Dorothy (of Wizard of Oz) to Scheherazade (of A Thousand and One Nights), from Sandy (in Grease) to Cinderella (from Into the Woods). Not to mention the Narrator
in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, alongside her brother Jack, as Joseph. Now there was a Proud Grandmother Moment if ever there was one!
ask her about her chances of starring roles in the professional theatre and how she thinks she will fare in the competitive world of show business, she will respond simply that she honestly doesn’t mind what part she plays - “I just want to be
on that stage!” There is no arguing with that, is there? It also explains why she gave her all in professional pantomime a few years ago, when she made an unforgettable appearance as a burger bun. Regular readers may recall that I wrote all about it
at the time, here on the Daily Blog. If it is, indeed, possible to shine as a burger bun, then (rather appropriately named) Hazel Bagel certainly did.
afternoon I was in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Theatre in Chiswick to watch my Golden Girl take part in her latest theatrical experience. What are you going to see? everyone asked expectantly when they heard I was off to the theatre. I could tell they were thinking
Les Miserables or something equally heart-tugging. Oh, no, I replied, nothing so predictable - I was off to see Spongebob the Musical, no less.
My older grandchildren
all used to love watching Spongebob Squarepants with me when they were littl’uns. I used to tease them by calling the star of the show “Squarebob Spongepants” causing them to howl with disapproval. To be strictly honest (and I do like the
Daily Blog to be truthful at all costs) in the beginning I just managed to get the name wrong, and not on purpose - but it became another of those jokes that grandparents love to make to wind their loved ones up.
Spongebob the Musical is all about ambition, love, friendship, determination, courage, persistence, community - it is also completely, delightfully, deliciously bonkers. It’s set in the watery depths of Bikini Bottom,
a community suddenly under threat from volcanic eruption. This threatening scenario unleashed a regular tsunami of talent from the third year students of the prestigious Arts Ed, hoping to impress any theatrical producers or agents who might be in the audience.
My Little Sister who was with me (along with her fella, her son, and Hazel’s proud parents) was so convinced that the man sitting next to us was an agent that she spent much of the interval commenting most favourably in a penetratingly loud voice about
a particular member of the cast. I’ll let you guess who that was…
There actually was - I kid you not - a burger bun among the cast but for once Hazel
missed out on the opportunity to reprise her role in panto. Probably best not to run the risk of getting type-cast, I hear you say. Especially playing a burger bun which could be somewhat, well, limiting. She did, nevertheless, demonstrate her versatility
by playing, alongside attempting to rule the roost from the top of a step ladder as the Mayor of Bikini Bottom, a number of ensemble roles including a pirate, a cowboy fish and - most memorably - a sardine. I told you it was bonkers.
Playing such a multiplicity of roles meant our girl had to master a bewildering number of fast costume changes, for example, kicking off the Mayor’s red stiletto heels and covering the smart
red Mayoral suit with a flowing sardine robe. No wonder the next time the Mayor appeared on stage she looked a trifle flushed.
I loved every minute of the show.
I loved dear, hopeful Spongebob who doesn’t know how to prove to his employer that he is more than a “simple sponge” and Sandy Cheeks the squirrel who finds herself targeted by some of the fishy community for being a land-based mammal. I
loved the pantomime antics of Patchy the Pirate, the desperation of Squidward to prove herself to her (unseen) mother, the villainy of Sheldon Plankton. Most of all, I loved the unfailing energy of the whole company who never seemed to miss a beat, or an opportunity
to demonstrate the sheer joyful silliness of a show starring lobsters, crabs, jellyfish, plankton, and a sea snail who miaowed like a cat.
Long live SquareBob
Or words to that effect…