Who lives in a pineapple under the sea and will soon be bringing Bikini Bottom to a theatre near you? Ahead of The SpongeBob Musical splashing into the Southbank Centre for the summer, we caught up with Lewis Cornay to find out all about life as a stagey sponge.
You’ve been touring the Spongbob musical for a couple of months now. How is it going?
It’s been going really well. It’s fun touring because you get different reactions from the audience at different venues. Different jokes land well in different areas.
Do you have a favourite tour venue so far?
I’d have to say Cardiff. I loved Cardiff. I thought the audiences were amazing. The theatre is absolutely beautiful and the kids really seemed to love it there.
Were you a fan of the cartoon before you got the role? (If not, are you now?)
Exclusive, hot off the press – I actually wasn’t – Not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t know much about it. I didn’t watch SpongeBob growing up. (I was more of a Tracy Beaker kind of guy!) Then when the musical came out on Broadway, I listened to it and I loved it. It seemed so like my sense of humour. So I watched a bit then and once I got the audition I obviously needed to watch it. I was shocked at how funny and grown-up it is. It’s really not just for kids. It’s so trippy and hilarious, so I love it now!
You play Spongebob. What do you enjoy most about the role?
What I enjoy is having the opportunity to run around the stage like an absolute idiot for about two and a half hours and never be told off. The kid inside of me that wanted to be naughty is allowed to be on stage, do the most stupid things I could think of and get away with it. And he’s so chronically optimistic that I’m hoping some of that will rub off on me.
How easy is it to get into the character of a sponge?
I guess it’s just seeing the good in everybody and everything, so it’s a really lovely opportunity to get into that headspace. And vocally it’s just a lot of warming up to make sure that my voice is high and screechy like a SpongeBob voice.
If you could play any other character in the show, who would it be and why?
I’d have to say Squidward because the character is so dry and so funny and he has this amazing, showstopping number in Act 2. It’s a big tap number – it’s very showbiz and I would just love the opportunity to do that. And he has four legs; what a fun challenge!
If you could live in any fruit in any location, what would it be and where?
I love this question. It would have to be a peach because I loved James and the Giant Peach growing up so I’d want to be James. And then for location I would say Thailand because I’d really love to go to Thailand. So, a Peach in Thailand, please – What’s not to love?
A couple of questions from Quaver (age 9): Where did you train to be an actor? And do you make new friends when you’re acting in a show?
I went to the Guildford School of Acting and got a degree in musical theatre. And yes, I make lots of new friends when acting. One of the best things about being an actor is all the different people and different families you make in every show. Because you do such strange hours, and we’re all attention seekers, we all become really close. And the great thing is a lot of the time we’re from very different walks of life. We don’t always have the same interests but there’s always something that bonds us .
The SpongeBob Musical is coming to London just in time for the summer holidays. Why should families have it on their ‘must see’ list?
We’re really excited about coming to London. There are so many reasons why families should come and watch it. It’s a show that’s been crafted over years. It’s not just for kids; it’s really for every member of the family. For the younger audiences we have the characters they might know and love. And it’s like a sensory feast with all the brilliant music, the gorgeous sets and costumes, and all the bright lights and colours. And for the adults, we have very intelligent Broadway humour – it’s witty and quick. And the score is written by a range of incredible artists including Panic at the Disco, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend – The list goes on and on. It’s a really feel-good show and something that we could all do with at the moment. I would thoroughly recommend it (and not just because I’m in it and biased)!
The SpongeBob Musical is currently touring the UK and Ireland. It will play at the Southbank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall from 26 July to 27 August 2023. For more information, tour dates and tickets head to www.spongebobstage.com.
Photo credit: Mark Senior