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/ Source: TODAY
By Gina Vivinetto

"SpongeBob SquarePants" fans, get ready to see the show's characters in a whole new way!

The hit cartoon celebrates its 20th anniversary in July, and Nickelodeon is marking the occasion with the one-hour special "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout." In a zany twist, the show's voice actors will play their animated characters in human form.

"SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" will feature the animated series' stars playing human versions of their characters. Robert Voets / Nickelodeon

The all-new mixed live-action and animated special will find SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) and Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) journeying to the surface world, where they meet a few familiar faces during lunchtime rush at The Trusty Slab restaurant.

Meanwhile, the residents of Bikini Bottom are busying themselves planning a surprise birthday party for SpongeBob.

"SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" star Tom Kenny. Robert Voets / Nickelodeon

The upcoming special also stars Rodger Bumpass (Squidward), Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs), Carolyn Lawrence (Sandy Cheeks) and Mr. Lawrence (Plankton), along with guest star David Hasselhoff, who'll don his "Baywatch" swim trunks to play himself just as he did in 2004's "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie."

Former "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff, who appeared as himself in 2004's "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," will make another cameo in the one-hour special.Robert Voets / Nickelodeon

"I experienced the world of SpongeBob first-hand when I appeared in ‘The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,’ which was an amazing experience," Hasselhoff said in a press release. "After making that cameo, kids around the world recognized me from the movie. How awesome to now come back to be part of the 20th anniversary special."

Additional guest stars include Kel Mitchell ("All That"), Jack Griffo ("The Thundermans") and Daniella Perkins ("Knight Squad").

The 20th anniversary special comes less than a year after the passing of "SpongeBob" creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died of ALS last November at the age of 57.

"Steve Hillenburg gave me the gift of a lifetime when he asked me to voice his porous alter ego, SpongeBob SquarePants," said Kenny. "He changed my life and all of our lives. To reach the 20-year mark is a huge milestone and we wanted to celebrate by throwing a big party, Bikini Bottom style."

Kenny added, "SpongeBob only comes up to the surface world on special occasions and this time one stop on his journey is The Trusty Slab restaurant. Stepping on the set and acting alongside my friends and fellow cast members was a true out of body experience. Fans are truly going to love it."

"SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" will premiere July 12 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Nickelodeon.