Warren Consolidated Schools Performing Arts Artistic Director Jonathan Gillespie works with students  Maria Bonucchi, playing the part of Squidward, and Will Bernstein, in the role of SpongeBob SquarePants,  in “The SpongeBob Musical.”

Warren Consolidated Schools Performing Arts Artistic Director Jonathan Gillespie works with students Maria Bonucchi, playing the part of Squidward, and Will Bernstein, in the role of SpongeBob SquarePants, in “The SpongeBob Musical.”

Photo by Deb Jacques


WCSPA premiers ‘The SpongeBob Musical’

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published June 9, 2021

 Maria Bonucchi, a senior from Cousino playing the part of Squidward,  and the other students rehearse.

Maria Bonucchi, a senior from Cousino playing the part of Squidward, and the other students rehearse.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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STERLING HEIGHTS/WARREN — “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”

Why, it’s SpongeBob SquarePants, of course, the Nickelodeon cartoon character.

Fans can check out the sea sponge character and his aquatic pals up close when the talented Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts, or WCSPA, students present “The SpongeBob Musical” at 7:30 p.m. June 11-12, and 2 p.m. June 13.

The show will be performed two ways: livestream video, and live on stage at the Performing Arts Center located on the campus of Sterling Heights High School, 12901 15 Mile Road.

Social distancing measures will be in place, and audience members and the performers are asked to wear masks. “The SpongeBob Musical” is a curtain call for Artistic Director Jonathan Gillespie as it’s his last show before retirement.

According to show organizers, WCSPA is the first school in Michigan to perform “The SpongeBob Musical.” Because of COVID-19, this is the first time in over a year that the WCSPA students have performed a show live onstage before a crowd. They can’t wait for opening night.   

“Working on SpongeBob both in the performance aspect and behind the scenes has been a blast,” ensemble and marketing crew member Melaina Brostenianc, a sophomore, said in a prepared statement. “This show is truly like no other, it really grabs the attention of everyone especially with the songs written by more than one artist which include some of my favorites like John Legend, Lady Antebellum, T.I. and so many more.”

“The SpongeBob Musical!” takes the audience to the characters’ home turf at Bikini Bottom. During the show, SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, Squidward and Plankton act, sing and dance their way through everyday problems they need to solve.

Junior Will Bernstein leads the pack as SpongeBob SquarePants.

“It takes the audience back to their childhood,” Bernstein said, adding at first getting into the character was difficult. “Especially with the masks. You have to talk with your body.” But now he has eased into the role. “SpongeBob just wants to prove himself. He’s not just a sponge.”

Senior Maria Bonucchi, as Squidward, is glad to be back center stage.

“It’s hard to figure everything out virtually,” she said. “It feels good to be all together, and we’re able to connect more. I’m so happy to be able to perform my last show on stage. It means so much.”

Ju’el Martin brings the “sarcastic” Plankton to life.

“He’s the villain in the show,” Martin said. “He’s also the comic relief.”

He’s watched the cartoon show while getting into character.
“I used it for a lot of my inspiration. The way he talks, his mannerisms,” Martin said. “I have him as a reference, but I put my own spin on it.”

In sync with the rest of the cast is Autumn Hearn as Sandy Cheeks.

“She’s not a fish, she’s a squirrel,” the sophomore said. “I love her character. She has her own vibe. Patrick and SpongeBob are her best friends but sometimes she gets annoyed with them.”

The cast also includes Xander Wee as Patrick. Senior Natalie Cornish is the show’s stage manager.

WCSPA is an award-winning, nationally recognized program that specializes in all aspects of theater, including acting, dancing and technical staff. Students in grades 9-12 attend class in a two-hour block at Sterling Heights High School. The students attend their other classes at their home school. The players must audition to be in the program.

For Bernstein, WCSPA has provided for a number of experiences.

“The atmosphere is the most accepting atmosphere I’ve been in,” Bernstein said.

The Warren Mott student will pursue an acting career, preferably in film. He has plans to attend Tisch School of the Arts, either in New York City or Los Angeles. One actor he’d like to work with is Leonardo DiCaprio.

“I’ll go through a lot of auditions with a lot of noes,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get that one yes.”

Martin started out in show choir, which led him to WCSPA.

“This is what I needed. I found my calling,” the Sterling Heights High School student said. “You have to have responsibility. You have to be able to help rely on your peers and they rely on you.”

Martin also hopes for a film career.

“I go to the movie theater at least twice a week,” he said.

Hearn is a Warren Mott student who has strengthened her social skills while in WCSPA.     

“It’s allowing me to open up,” she said. “It’s allowed me to improve on my acting.”

“I’ve gained a lot of communication skills, being able to work with my peers and technicians, and knowing who to go to when I need somebody,” said Bonucchi, who attends Cousino.  

Visit www.wcspa.net/shows/buy-tickets/ for ticket information.

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