Abilene High sophomore Carrie Mercer (right) is playing the lead role of SpongeBob in the combined AISD musical SpongeBob the Musical, while Cooper senior Lily Kovac is playing SpongeBob’s friend, Sandy Cheeks.

Abilene High School and Cooper High School theatre students are combining this year to present SpongeBob the Musical, Feb. 2-4, at the AHS auditorium. Show time each night is at 7 p.m. and admission is $10 per person. The music will be played by a live orchestra, featuring nine students and 10 adults.

The central themes of SpongeBob The Musical celebrate friendship, cooperation, and the power of unity and inclusion, all of which will be displayed in more ways than one during the three performances.

Theatre arts students at both Abilene and Cooper high schools were put together last summer to begin auditioning, learning music and lines, and forging friendships for the first combined musical in the AISD since the two schools performed Seussical the Musical in 2015.

Auditions occurred in September and rehearsals began Nov. 1. From there, it’s been a whirlwind of learning lines, music, designing, building, painting sets, and putting together costumes. Not to mention Eagles meeting and getting to know Cougars and vice versa.

“That part of this was a little scary because I’m just a sophomore, and I have to lead the show,” said Abilene High’s Carrier Mercer, who plays SpongeBob. “And I have all these people on stage that I don’t know but with whom I want to build relationships. But it’s been a total blast. I love going to rehearsals, knowing I will see new friends.”

Cooper senior Lily Kovac plays SpongeBob’s friend, Sandy Cheeks, and admitted that – like Mercer – she didn’t know much about SpongeBob, having not watched it growing up. But the show has grown on her. 

“To say I wasn’t happy about doing SpongeBob would be an understatement,” she said with a laugh. “SpongeBob wasn’t something I grew up watching, so I had no affection for the show or the characters themselves. Some of us were slightly disappointed that we would have to do a show we knew nothing about. But I can say my opinion has changed about these characters and finding the true meaning within the show and how beautiful the message that’s in the show.”

And that message? For Kovac, it goes back to the central themes of the show.

“The show is a message about friendship and unity. Throughout the show, Sandy struggles with her fellow community making her an outcast. The message is the beauty behind friendship and coming together all for a certain goal and that everybody has their piece in the puzzle and has something significant, and they can show that in different ways.”

That message is never more apparent than at the end of the first act when Mercer, as SpongeBob, stands at the front of the stage with Kovac as Sandy and sings “Tomorrow Is.”

“That song is about how the world is going to end and how we say we believe we can save it,” Mercer said. “Lily and I hold hands on the front of the stage, and that, to me, is meaningful because people wouldn’t think a girl from Cooper and a girl from Abilene High would come together like that in a show because it’s not common. But I hope people leave the auditorium not knowing we’re from two different schools, and it’s clear the cast loves each other, and it was an amazing show.”