A Moonlit Duke University Student as SpongeBob SquarePants

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“If there’s a fork in the road, take it.” –Yogi Berra

For most people, it would be a life-changing decision: study computer science at one of the country’s most prestigious universities or pursue a passion for acting.

Troy Ludwig chose both.

A year ago, he graduated from Helias Catholic Secondary School and achieved academic and theatrical distinction. He has just completed his freshman year at Duke University, where he is studying computer science and electrical engineering.

He is also SpongeBob SquarePants. Ludwig portrays the title character in Capital City Productions’ https://www.newstribune.com/news/2022/may/16/duke-university-student-moonlights-as-spongebob/ “SpongeBob: The Musical”, which takes place in June 9-11, 16-18.

Ludwig’s diverse interests are a left-brain-right-brain dichotomy that you don’t see in most people.

“I love playing,” he said. “It’s my main creative passion, but I also have the ability to be STEM-oriented, so I like to use it.”

He grew up on a farm near Linn and is trained in 4-H. His older brother loved acting, so at age 9 Ludwig gave it a try.

He starred in the springtime musical Helias for the four years he attended, beginning by playing LeFou in “Beauty and the Beast.” As a junior, he played Sebastian, the protagonist crab in “Little Mermaid.”

“I like to say I’m a character actor,” he said. “The more interesting a character is, the more fun I have with them. And if you play a Jamaican crab, how much more interesting can you get?”

He also continued to perform in local theater groups such as The Little Theater and Stained Glass Theater before establishing himself with CCP. In all, he played in about twenty local productions.

When he saw the essays for “SpongeBob,” he thought, “I’m a smaller guy, a character actor. I can sing in a higher register. That’s a perfect role for me.”

But the auditions were the last day of her spring break earlier this year. So he auditioned and told the director if he was needed for a “recall” – a second audition – he wouldn’t be available.

A few days later, director Sarah Sicht called him to tell him he had landed the role.

After his freshman year at Duke, he returned home to join the other 52 production/cast members in rehearsal.

“It’s exciting to have this opportunity to show off my divine talent in singing and acting,” he said.

SpongeBob is ostensibly a kids’ show, but its clever writing and humor appeal to all ages.

Ludwig said anyone who watched the TV show would get the references, as well as the music and plot. As Plankton plans, it’s up to SpongeBob, the eternal optimist, to save the day.

Ludwig appreciates everyone who has contributed to his success, including Rob Crouse, the founder of CCP, who has given him opportunities he otherwise would not have had.

“Shae Marie Eickhoff and my vocal coach, Sue Logston, were instrumental in my development for musicals,” he said. “I learned pretty much everything about acting from Shae and pretty much everything about music from Sue.”

This fall he will return to Duke, where he has already appeared in two theater productions. But his main focus is to study Computer Science/Electrical Engineering.

In this era of rapid development of technology, he hopes to pursue a career in software development.

“Computing and metaverse things have changed the world,” he said. “It’s just fascinating to me because technology has always been around me.”

In the accompanying video, Troy Ludwig rehearses songs from “SpongeBob: The Musical” with the rest of the cast and talks about what it means to him to play SpongeBob in Capital City Productions’ upcoming show.

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