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  • Writer's pictureDana Romero

Behind the Scenes with Kaleigh Lay: Director's Insights on Bringing Bikini Bottom to Life

Stepping into the vibrant and imaginative world of "SpongeBob The Musical" has been an exhilarating journey for all involved. As the director of this captivating production, Kaleigh Lay has led the cast and crew through weeks of rehearsals, bringing to life the beloved characters of Bikini Bottom on stage. In this exclusive interview, Kaleigh shares her insights on the directorial process, unexpected moments, collaboration with the production team, and the heartwarming journey of creating a polished final product.

**1. As rehearsals have progressed, have there been any unexpected moments or discoveries that have influenced your directorial decisions?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** Some of the biggest surprises happened at auditions. I fully didn't expect everyone to end up where they did, but some moments just solidified what the characters would be like. Emily Roy's absolute slay as Plankton and Jay's complete commitment to the iconic Mr. Krabs voice were just some of the delightful surprises that have enriched our production.

**2. How has the cast's understanding of their characters evolved during rehearsals, and how have you worked together to fine-tune their performances?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** Everyone came in with some idea of what these characters were, but having one vision of our Bikini Bottom is what made it click. I encouraged each person to think of their character's place and backstory in Bikini Bottom. What is their role in this community? Once everyone could identify that, we could all work towards the same goal, creating a cohesive and dynamic ensemble.

**3. Are there any particular scenes or musical numbers that you feel have come together exceptionally well during the rehearsal process?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** I am so excited about "Simple Sponge." It is sooooo daunting as a number because the gimmick has to work, and it relies on every aspect of tech: costumes, lighting, choreo. Once it came together, I definitely breathed a sigh of relief. "Super Sea Star Savior" is also wayyy more fun than I expected. I dance along every night, and the energy is contagious.

**4. Now that you've seen the actors bring their characters to life, has your initial vision for the production evolved in any way?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** My vision is always very solid before I begin a show. For me, there's no reason to do a show without a vision for it. So, my vision for this one is that even though we live in an imperfect world, an imperfect community like Bikini Bottom filled with people serving their own interests, we can be like SpongeBob and stay and try to make it better. That has not changed from the first rehearsal to now. I think it is part of what has gotten our cast through some difficult moments, and I am so proud of them.

**5. "SpongeBob The Musical" features a vibrant and imaginative world. How have you collaborated with the production team to capture the essence of Bikini Bottom on stage?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** Anyone can tell you, I am NOT a person who normally prefers big flashy sets. But this show required it, so I relied heavily on my team. It really was a team effort as well as a blessing from other local theatre companies with some props, costumes, and sets which allowed us to pull the whole thing off.

**6. What aspects of the production, such as set design or costumes, have exceeded your expectations during the rehearsal period?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** I have barely had to think about costumes. I told the cast what I wanted, and they all showed up completely in my vision with very little prompting. I saw them all in costume for the first time at the Essies and almost cried I was so excited.

**7. How have you navigated challenges or hurdles that arose during rehearsals to ensure a smooth and polished final product?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** I try to take each issue one at a time. There have definitely been stressful moments, and sometimes we all had to work harder when those arose. But coming into opening night with very few loose ends dangling makes it all worth it. We can't wait for an audience.

**8. Can you share any standout moments from rehearsals that have reaffirmed your excitement for this production?**

**Kaleigh Lay:** Learning "Poor Pirates" was a blast. We laughed so hard that day! When the extraordinarily difficult tap number came together and everyone was on the same beat, I wanted to jump up and down like Squidward. And the end of "Bikini Bottom Day" always gets me so pumped. Honestly, I love watching this show and my cast. This is all for them!

Stay tuned as we continue to bring the magic of "SpongeBob The Musical" to life on stage. The journey has been filled with joy, challenges, and a lot of heart, and we can't wait to share it all with you!

Iberia Performing Arts League (IPAL)

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