Opening Nightmare by El Szalay





Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have not interacted with me whatsoever in the past month, you already know that Shaker’s production of The Spongebob Musical opened and closed this past weekend. All three performances were phenomenal and I am so unbelievably proud of the cast, crew, pit, and everyone involved in bringing this show to life. Not to mention, this show is officially the highest selling show in recent Shaker theatre history, with two of the three performances ending with only 30(ish) tickets left unsold. I am thrilled that my first and last high school musical broke this record. But, if I’m being completely honest, I was terrified for this show up until opening night. Considering that I hadn’t done a musical since middle school and that Spongebob is a surprising difficult show to put on, it’s perfectly normal that I panicked about it. In fact, I had multiple nightmares about something going wrong on stage. Most of them were realistic, like tripping during a big dance break or my costume ripping on stage, but I had quite possibly the weirdest nightmare of my life right before tech week.

To set the scene, this dream took place on opening night. We had all taken our places for the beginning of the show and the opening number starts when the cast collectively realized that our set had been torn down and replaced. If you remember what the set for last year’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac looked like, that’s basically what our new set looked like, except it was blue and on the wrong part of the stage. No one told us about the change, but as we say in theatre, the show must go on. We tried to continue through Bikini Bottom Day like everything was normal, but missed nearly all of our entrances because our blocking didn’t work with the new set.

I have an entrance from the audience at one point during the opening number. After making my way through Stage 3 to get to the back of the house, I enter the room during Mr. Krabs, Plankton, and Karen’s verse. But for some reason, Mr. Krabs wasn’t on stage. Instead, they were sitting in the audience with a microphone to sing their lines. There was a spotlight on them, so I assume this was somewhat intentional. The thing is, their microphone was breaking up so badly that you couldn’t hear what they were saying. As I move down the aisle to make my entrance, our director cuts us off and asks to speak with the cast. Yes, in front of a paying audience.

We all go backstage to talk to our director, and it was at that point I realized I was dreaming, because our actual backstage space looks way different than what I saw in my dream. There was a door that took us out to a parking lot. However, this parking lot wasn’t in Shaker. I can only assume it was in Akron (you’ll see why I say that). The whole cast was crying over how horribly the show was going as our director asked us why our show was going so poorly despite how good our runs were earlier that week. I don’t remember what else he said in this tangent, but it ended with him saying “and now I have to call the police.” The whole cast started crying even more, because our performance was god awful, but it most definitely wasn’t illegal! Our director seemed confused and said “no, I don’t mean on you guys, I mean on those guys.”

We all turn to look at what he was talking about and were greeted with a bright orange bus heading down the street towards the Akron airport. There were a few people on it, but there were two people in large penguin costumes similar to the Duolingo owl costumes, but penguins. The real kicker was the fact that the bus was driving down the street without one of its back tires. The entire cast instantly stops crying and forgets about our terrible performance as we all tell our director that he should most definitely call the police. As he explains the situation to the police, someone in the cast looks off into the distance and says “oh, and that building’s on fire.” We all turn around and there’s a massive skyscraper in the distance and, sure enough, it was on fire.

And then I woke up.

And for what it’s worth, our set was in place on opening night. And we only had a few minor technical difficulties. And there weren’t any fires or penguin costumes.

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