SpongeBob musical champions inclusion

The cast is ready to perform at Dandenong's Drum Theatre. Pictures: SUPPLIED

By Jamie Salter

Smart Communities and Artzmartz Young People’s Theatre is presenting a full scale musical theatre event in Dandenong that celebrates inclusion.

The SpongeBob Squarepants musical is a fun, visually exciting performance that uses the familiar characters of Nickelodeon’s Bikini Bottom community to address central themes relevant to youth today.

It broaches fear and crisis and community working together to overcome adversity, racism, diversity and inclusion.

The show includes a cast of 50 diverse young people from across the South-East and will play to more than 3000 people across its six show season.

Smart Communities is a local charity that provides inclusive youth programs for everyone including youth who are impacted by disability, mental health conditions or who are LGBTQI+ and their families.

Company directors Marita Fayle and Sandra Martin said they were excited to bring the show to South-East audiences.

“More than 70 per cent of our youth identify as LGBTQI+, gender diverse and transgender, persons of colour, young performers on the autism spectrum or impacted by mental health conditions,“ Ms Fayle said.

“The key messages brought to the stage in the SpongeBob musical advocates for social responsibility and inclusion, messages of cultural diversity, LGBTQI+ inclusion and gender equality.

“The show itself is designed to be inclusive in gender diverse casting and costuming and specifically articulates its desire to improve the visibility of LGBTQI+ performers.“

Artzmartz Young People’s Theatre provides a safe place for young people to give them opportunities to be involved in the things they’re passionate about.

Ms Fayle said the cast even had the chance to design gender neutral costumes.

“We firmly believe everyone belongs,“ she said.

One of the shows fittingly lands on World Autism Day on Saturday 2 April.

“Being an organisation that’s passionate about providing a place for these individuals – we’re very excited that one of our shows lands on World Autism Day,“ Ms Fayle said.

“AYPT is the first Melbourne based organisation to perform Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob the Musical and has something for all ages – it’s definitely a show that shouldn’t be missed.“

The show will be held at the Drum Theatre from Thursday 31 March until the Sunday 3 April.

To purchase tickets, visit drumticketing.greaterdandenong.vic.gov.au/overview/artzmartz