The SpongeBob Musical’s Tristan McIntyre on playing Plankton
“I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and cannot wait to bring the show here!” exclaims Tristan McIntyre, who plays Sheldon J. Plankton in an upcoming production of The SpongeBob Musical at the Dolby Theatre in LA.
In a March 6 interview, McIntyre said he is a proud graduate of Beverly Hills High School, like the show’s director, Tina Landau, a 2018 Tony Award nominee who also conceived the show.
With characters from Nickelodeon’s popular and long-running television series, SpongeBob SquarePants, this production “explodes with energy and features and original pop- and rock-infused score by Grammy Award-winning songwriters,” with “humanity, heart, and pure theatricality,” according to its producer, Broadway in Hollywood.
In addition to McIntyre, the show features Lorenzo Pugliese as SpongeBob SquarePants, Beau Bradshaw as Patrick Star, Cody Cooley as Squidward Q. Tentacles, Zach Kononov as Eugene Krabs and Daria Pilar Redus as Sandy Cheeks.
“He’s the villain of the entire SpongeBob series,” McIntyre says of his character Plankton. “In the musical, he also functions as the antagonist.”
Plankton interferes with SpongeBob and his friends trying to save their home from an eruption of Mount Humungous so he can create an entire new town based around his Chum franchise, McIntyre said.
McIntyre is overjoyed to be playing a villain in his 20s since he did not expect to play such a role until his 30s or 40s.
“Playing a villain is the best,” McIntyre says. “In our show, he’s a malicious, lovable villain. He happens to be the one everyone loves to hate.”
Growing up, McIntyre and his sister would watch SpongeBob on television every weekend for hours.
“It was a huge part of my childhood, like most kids nowadays,” he recalled. “I never thought I’d be the tiny villain, though. That part is crazy to me.”
McIntyre was all the more surprised because he hadn’t originally auditioned for the part of Plankton. The show was mostly cast in New York and McIntyre showed up to the single day of auditions in LA hoping for an ensemble role. He was then called back to audition for Plankton, including having to rap.
Fortuitously, the offer to play the role came only a week after McIntyre’s early graduation from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts. The show began in New York in September and will continue for another six months after its three-week run in LA.
“This is like my senior year of college except I’m learning on the job,” McIntyre said. “The first lessons had to do with stamina, duration, how to take care of your body—which they don’t teach you in college and they should.”
But the biggest lesson had to do with listening on stage, which McIntyre was taught in college but has only internalized after performing on stage eight times per week, with more than 100 performances under his belt.
“The word ‘listening’ has a whole new meaning,” McIntyre said. “When you’re doing something for this long, it just forces you to really hone into the action on stage and respond naturally and be still and be present and live in the moment. I’m still learning.”
It took McIntyre four months or about 90 performances before he felt truly comfortable in his role since he was so new at touring.
“It was a big learning curve for me to feel good about what I was doing,” he notes.
He initially wanted to perform musical theatre on Broadway, but attending USC turned McIntyre into a film and television actor.
“My goal now is being able to do both,” he said, anticipating moving to New York after the show’s run. “I just keep my options open because I’m interested in so many things, all in the realm of performance and acting.”
In the meantime, McIntyre hopes LA audiences will enjoy his character’s story arc and have fun being absorbed into the underwater world of Bikini Bottom.
“It’s a party on stage for all ages,” he says. “At the end of the day, your problems are not as big as you think they are.”
The SpongeBob Musical will run from March 24 to April 12 at the Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., with performances Tuesdays through Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 1pm and 6:30pm. Tickets start at $39. For tickets and information, call (800) 982-2787 or visit broadwayinhollywood.com.