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Q&A: Danny Skinner of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’

Category Actor Spotlight

|by Jeryl Brunner |

Meet the actor who plays SpongeBob’s best friend, Patrick Star

In the innovative new musical SpongeBob SquarePants, we are united with all of our friends living in the undersea world of Bikini Bottom. Danny Skinner makes his Broadway debut as Patrick Star, SpongeBob's devoted best friend. Directed by Tina Landau, the effervescent show contains original songs from a dizzying array of artists  including Yolanda Adams, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, They Might Be Giants, T.I. and Tom Kitt. And with the groundbreaking designers behind Fun Home, Hedwig and Spring Awakening, it is indeed a beautiful Bikini Bottom day. 

Danny Skinner as Patrick Star in 'SpongeBob SquarePants' (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Danny Skinner as Patrick Star in 'SpongeBob SquarePants' (Photo: Joan Marcus)

What do you love about Patrick Star? 
Danny Skinner:
I love how much of a friend he is to SpongeBob. I have been working on this show for the better part of six years leading up to this Broadway production. Through this process, I have gotten to become really close with Ethan Slater, who plays SpongeBob. We were two of the originals from when we started six years ago. I really love getting to do it with him. The  show celebrates friendship and community. Getting to plug into that every night and bring that joy to the audience is really delightful and especially with Ethan. I look forward to it every night. 

Patrick is a different kind of smart. Some people like to call him dumb. I don’t like to call him that. He’s sensitive. He’s very impulsive. He likes to eat and he likes to sleep.  Maybe he’s a little bit lazy. But he’s also a really good friend. He has some ideas that he wants to be heard and he wants to be respected by the community.  I can really get behind that. 

Growing up, were you a fan of the series? 
Danny Skinner:
I was a huge fan. I remember the very first time that I watched SpongeBob SquarePants. I got up on my parent’s bed and turned on the television. When I saw Patrick, I thought, oh gosh, there's a cartoon character who looks like me. That was such a big deal especially being a big kid. Seeing a character who looks like you makes you feel, oh yes, I do have a place in the world. And fast forward to now, I would have never dreamed that there was a world where there would be a SpongeBob musical. Let alone that I’d be that character. 

When did you know you had to perform? 
Danny Skinner:
I grew up in Texas, and so one of our local churches did a bunch of musicals, like The Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof. I remember my father got involved and did the opening scene of the Music Man where they are on the train. I remember sitting there. I was in kindergarten. I looked up and saw them working on that scene, put my toys down and watched. 

I said that’s what I want to do. My friend got to play Winthrop who sings "Oh oh the Wells Fargo wagon is a comin' down the street…” When he started singing I was burning with jealousy. I said, I want to do that. My heart was taken by theater. From that moment on, I knew I had to do it.  Then I did a bunch of shows in middle school in my classroom. But the first real stage show I did was for my high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I got to play Bottom.

What do you love to do when you’re not working? 
Danny Skinner:
I'm a big movie watcher. I consider myself kind of a cinephile. I love watching just the most obscure type of stuff, especially B horror movies. They're just so over the top ridiculous, they are hilarious. Trying to create a very specific look with very little resources is noble and inspiring. You have to think on your feet and some of these B movies are great showcases of that. There are so many B movies I adore, but I really love Dario Argento’s work. He is the Italian master of horror, especially Suspiria, which is glorious in its ridiculous gore and storytelling.

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