Our first Wednesday pick for The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide takes a cue from our sister internet radio station, The AIR, and gives you two picks suggested by Mel Larch, the host of Curtain Call, The AIR’s weekly showcase for showtunes.

First up we have the just-released DVD of The SpongeBob Squarepants Musical. I raved about this show when I saw in on Broadway in 2018, and last year Nickelodeon filmed it for broadcast. Now you can get a DVD of that recording, along with some bonus sing-a-long material and enjoy it over and over. This is a great gift for any fan of SpongeBob Squarepants, and it’s also great for fans of musical theatre, because it’s one of the best shows of the last half-century.

The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! cast includes Ethan Slater as SpongeBob SquarePants, Gavin Lee as Squidward Q. Tentacles, Danny Skinner as Patrick Star, Brian Ray Norris as Eugene Krabs, Wesley Taylor as Sheldon Plankton, Christina Sajous as Sandy Cheeks and Tom Kenny as ‘Patchy the Pirate’. The ensemble includes Kyle Hamilton, Katie Lee Hill, Curtis Holbrook, Jesse JP Johnson, L’ogan J’ones, Jai’len Josey, Kelvin Moon Loh, Lauralyn McClelland, Vasthy Mompoint, Bryonha Marie Parham, Oneika Phillips, Jon Rua, JC Schuster, Abby C. Smith, Robert Taylor Jr., and Allan Washington.

Joining the cast is veteran SpongeBob SquarePants voice actor Tom Kenny as “Patchy the Pirate,” performing the original Sara Bareilles song “Poor Pirates.” Following a critically lauded run on Broadway, The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! was filmed for television in front of a live audience at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in the U.K., capturing all-new depths of theatrical innovation, where the power of optimism really can save the world.

Named Best Musical by the Drama Desk Awards and Outer Critics Circle, and earned 12 Tony Award nominations – the most nominated musical of the 2017-2018 theatre season – winning for Best Scenic Design of a Musical (David Zinn).

Acclaimed Steppenwolf director Tina Landau and the groundbreaking designers behind Fun Home, Hedwig, and Spring Awakening have brilliantly reimagined Bikini Bottom for the Broadway stage, on tour, and now for television, bringing the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart, and pure theatricality. With an original score from some of the biggest names in pop and rock, The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! explodes with energy.

This one-of-a-kind television musical event features original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At The Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, and T.I. (Clifford Harris, Jr.), Domani Harris, and Darwin Quinn, and additional songs by David Bowie, and by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley. Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Additional music by Tom Kitt. Along with “The SpongeBob Theme Song” by Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg, and Blaise Smith.

The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! DVD includes an exclusive extended sing-along version of the musical, as well as a bonus photo gallery. The SpongeBob Musical: Live On Stage! sells for about ten bucks, and is available from almost any store or website that sells DVDS. You can hear highlights of The SpongeBob Squarepants Musical Wednesday at 3 PM EST on Curtain Call, On The AIR.

At 4 PM EST on The AIR, you can hear an episode of Curtain Call that presents highlights of the 2019 Tony Award Winner for best Musical, Hadestown. A new book collects the lyrics and offers insight into the writing process of the show’s creator, Anaïs Mitchell.

Working on a Song: The Lyrics of HADESTOWN
by Anaïs Mitchell
ISBN-13 : 978-0593182574
$16.00 (discounted at Amazon)

Anaïs Mitchell is a singer-songwriter who comes from the world of narrative folksong, poetry, and balladry. Among her recorded works are six full-length albums including the original studio album of Hadestown (2010, featuring Justin Vernon and Ani DiFranco); Young Man in America (2012); and Bonny Light Horseman (2020, with folk band Bonny Light Horseman). Mitchell has headlined concerts around the world. Awards include a Tony Award for Best Score for Hadestown. Her albums have been featured in year-end best lists including NPR, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, and Sunday Times. Hadestown is Mitchell’s first musical.

This is an illuminating book of lyrics and stories from Hadestown—the winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical—from its author, songwriter Anaïs Mitchell with a foreword by Steve Earle.

On Broadway, this fresh take on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has become a modern classic. Heralded as “The best new musical of the season,” by The Wall Street Journal, and “Sumptuous. Gorgeous. As good as it gets,” by The New York Times, the show was a breakout hit, with its poignant social commentary, and spellbinding music and lyrics.

In this book, Anaïs Mitchell takes readers inside her more than decade’s-long process of building the musical from the ground up—detailing her inspiration, breaking down the lyrics, and opening up the process of creation that gave birth to Hadestown. Fans and newcomers alike will love this deeply thoughtful, revealing look at how the songs from “the underground” evolved, and became the songs we sing again and again.

There’s also a small section of color photos and an introduction by Steve Earle.

This is a great gift for anyone who is already a fan of the show, and it’ll also be a treat for fans of Musical Theatre and Greek Mythology. You should be able to order this from any bookseller using the ISBN code.