(CBS) — You might not think they go along swimmingly, but the music of Chicago’s own Plain White T’s is bringing the character of SpongeBob SquarePants to life.

The multimillion dollar musical is opening in Chicago this summer, but today CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole got a preview.

To some people it might sound like a joke, but heavy hitters from the music world, from Cindi Lauper to Joe Perry and the Plain White T’s are taking part in the project. They are enormously successful but have stayed true to their roots in the western suburbs.

As students, they haven’t walked the halls at Willowbrook High for 19 years, but their music and memories still echo.

“It really wasn’t in my wheelhouse at the time but it certainly is now,” said speech communications teacher Jim White. “Typical teenage band type stuff in the garage and you hope for the best but you have to plan for the worst and you just don’t know if they are going to make it.”

But the Plain White T’s did make it big with platinum releases like “Hey There Delilah” and “Rhythm of Love.”

“They want to know why, go beyond just the book or just the test,” White said.

White fondly remembers guitarist Dave Tirio and vocalist Tom Higgenson from his classroom, tennis team, and school plays. He’s also proud of their continued support of school projects, donating to scholarship funds and performing at benefits.

“They come back,” White said. “They want to give back and they’re the kind of young men that want to give back to their community that helped them become who they are today.”

Nickolodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants may seem an odd partner for the band, but now they are joining the likes of Steven Tyler and John Legend in writing original music to take the sponge from Bikini Bottom to the Broadway stage.

White says it doesn’t quite sound like their music but, “it doesn’t sound out of character as well.”

The show opens here in Chicago in early June and then it heads to Broadway after that.

Vince Gerasole