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First Act theater group highlights female lead, actor with disability in SpongeBob production

The SpongeBob Musical
Posted at 4:43 PM, May 24, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — First Act Theatre Arts opened up its production of The SpongeBob Musical Thursday night with an almost sold out show.

Rising junior Kaitlyn Talken, who plays SpongeBob, said she was hesitant to try for the lead role typically played by a man, but has seen great success.

Kaitlyn as SpongeBob
Kaitlyn as SpongeBob

“Eventually, I decided I could do it and figure it out, and I wanted to go for it and see what happened," Talken said. “I’m really happy that I did.”

Talken and her co-star Cole Wood-McKeown, who plays SpongeBob’s pet snail Gary, have amassed quite the following through social media.

The Cast of SpongeBob
The Cast of SpongeBob

A TikTok with a short introduction of the pair has more than 70,000 views and hundreds of comments.

“I mean, it’s really cool honestly," Talken said of their internet fame.

Comments applaud Talken’s ability to hit low notes, while Wood-McKeown was noticed for his acting chops while living with Down Syndrome.

“I want to be on Broadway,” Wood-McKeown said. “That’s my dream job, to be in a show.”

He’s a part of the HEART program, which gives students with disabilities a chance to shine on stage.

First Act works with HEART students in each production.

“It’s just normal,” Talken said. “And it makes us understand that we are inclusive and accepting of everyone, and that we use the resources we have to help them succeed in the ways that they can.”

The SpongeBob Musical is running through Sunday afternoon. You can buy tickets and check out a list of future shows if you click here.