Charles Murdock Lucas is a scene and media designer based in San Diego, California. He has designed for companies across the United States and internationally. He serves as the Program Director for Opera Hack, sponsored by San Diego Opera and OPERA AMERICA, a first-of-its-kind gathering of artists, and technology experts from around the world dedicated to the advancement of the art form of Opera. Murdock is also the Head of Scene Design, and Head of Projection & Integrated Media Design for the BA and MFA programs at San Diego State University, teaching scene design, projection and integrated media design, drafting, digital painting, advanced media design and animation, collaborative studies, and more. He decided to pursue a Fulbright grant to Bulgaria, which allowed him to combine teaching with a professional project.
As a Fulbright Scholar in Sofia in 2023, Murdock had the pleasure of working with the Sofia Metropolitan Puppet Theatre on their new production of the American Broadway hit “SpongeBob the Musical.” He created the scenic design—that is, the visual world of the story—for the performance. He was one of only two Americans hired for the production, and he collaborated with a team of talented Bulgarian theatrical designers, performers, choreographers, and musicians to bring the story of friendship and community to the Sofia stage. “Working in Bulgarian theater as a professional designer was what inspired me to pursue a Fulbright scholarship there,” says Murdock. “I had worked with the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria in Sofia in 2020 as the scenic designer for another American work, Shrek: The Musical, which had captured a unique audience hungry for musicals. A number of the performers in Shrek were fulltime company members at the Sofia Metropolitan Puppet Theatre, so I met Artistic Director Ivan Raykov and Vencislava Asenova, who invited me to work with the company on Spongebob. The entire company made my family (I brought my wife, two-year-old daughter, and mother-in-law) and me feel very welcome in Sofia, which has become like a second home. I was also honored to teach at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia with distinguished colleagues including Prof. Marina Raytchinova, Prof. Svetoslav Kokalov, Prof. Dr. Manya Vaptsarova, Prof. Dr. Vassil Rokomanov, Ch. Asst. Prof. Dr. Rozina Makaveeva, Boris Dalchev, and Mihaela Dobreva. I very much enjoyed working with the Scenography students on several special workshops that I created especially for my residency, as well as regular lectures, and participating in the critical reviews at the end of each semester. Lastly, colleagues in both of these projects helped me pursue my final goal: a series of in-depth interviews with important Bulgarian theatrical designers and directors, which will be disseminated to the public in a variety of ways. Throughout my time in Bulgaria, I was grateful for the dear friends and adopted family I have made during our stay there.”
SpongeBob: The Musical made its Bulgarian debut on the stage of the Sofia Metropolitan Puppet Theater on February 14. The characters from the underwater city of Bikini Bottom came to life backed by a real rock band, original songs and music by David Bowie, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Panic! At the Disco and many other world famous pop and rock musicians.
The director is West Hyler from the US, who is staging work at the Sofia puppet theater for the second time. In early 2017, he directed Avenue Q, a super-successful performance that continues to gather audiences to this day.
“Attractive for all ages, the musical is an extraordinary explosion of colors, music and dance, a sparkling and captivating feast for all the senses, which, in addition to entertainment, also carries strong messages about friendship, the power of unity and community,” comments the team behind the performance. If you haven’t watched it yet, we highly recommend you do so; follow the web page of the Sofia Puppet Theater for dates of future performances.