Being one of the most popular children’s show in television history, SpongeBob has been enjoyed by millions of children and adults for decades. Earlier this year, ‘The SpongeBob Musical’ stepped up to the big stage, embarking on a nationwide tour that will span both the United States and parts of Canada.
Luckily, for fans of the animated show about a comical sponge and his ocean friends, Bikini Bottom is coming to Philadelphia this December and features a South Jersey appeal.
Sydney Simone, a Sicklerville native, graduated from Timber Creek High School in 2014 and then from Coastal Carolina in 2018 with a BFA in Physical Theatre. After going through the rigorous audition process, Simone is now the understudy for Sandy Cheeks in the musical as it tours throughout North America.
Simone says both her parents are actors and have been involved in various aspects of theater, from plays to musicals and dance and more. From a young age, she says she knew theatre was something she wanted to pursue.
“Growing up, they were so enthusiastic about theatre and they were more than willing to throw me into whatever aspects of it that I wanted,” Simone said. “I basically grew up doing dance, and around age six I started going to theatre camp at MainStage Center for the Performing Arts, which was perfect. I did that every summer and I just grew to love it even more and more.”
Throughout middle school, high school and college, Simone went through various voice lessons, dance classes and more in both Philadelphia and New Jersey as she prepared for a potential career in theatre. After graduating, she moved back to Sicklerville and traveled back and forth between New York City as she went on audition after audition.
Starting out, Simone says she was eager to be able to simply audition for roles in various performances.
“In the beginning, it was so nice to just be seen by casting directors and different companies, even if I didn’t get further in the audition process, so that they could see me and hear me and know that I’m looking for work,” Simone said.
Since graduating, Simone has performed in various performances, such as in ‘Ragtime’ with Eagle Theatre, as well as in three performances with the Clear Space Theatre Company, located in Rehoboth Beach, DE.
However, her most recent undertaking as the understudy for Sandy Cheeks for ‘The SpongeBob Musical’ in a yearlong, nationwide performance is one she says she truly cherishes. Simone also performs in the ensemble, performing multiples roles such as a sardine and pirate.
“I still can’t really even process how I feel about getting to be in this show,” Simone said. “It still hasn’t hit me.”
Simone said, like many kids her age, she watched the animated show all the time growing up. Being able to bring the performance all across the country continues to be surreal.
“I would be a little kid watching SpongeBob, whether I was getting ready to go to sleep or before I would go to school, and the last thing I would’ve ever thought is that I’d get to be a part of something like this,” Simone said.
“To be able to continue the story like this across the country to others that were my age when they fell in love with it is one of the reasons I even do theatre in the first place. To even say that I’m a part of SpongeBob… it doesn’t feel real,” she said.
The show, which started in mid-September, will visit cities like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and more over the next year.
The musical comes to Forrest Theatre stage from Dec. 3 to Dec. 15 presented by the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus and The Schubert Organization.
“SpongeBob and his friends spring from television to the Forrest Theatre stage in a Broadway blockbuster event featuring original music from superstars transcending genre and audience,” said Anne Ewers, president and CEO for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. “Appealing to any age, alongside its message of inclusivity, this show is the perfect choice to kick start the holiday season on our Kimmel Center Cultural Campus.”
The show features one-of-a-kind musical event with original songs by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco and more.
Tickets can be purchased from www.TheSpongeBobMusical.com.