Theatreworks NYC presents a new version of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical at Lucille Lortel Theatre
By: Patrick Christiano
Joe Tracz adapted the book for The Lightning Thief from the best-selling young adult fiction series of the same name by Rick Riordan, and Rob Rokicki, wrote the music and lyrics. The musical presented by Theatreworks NYC, a group that has produced over 130 children oriented shows since 1961, and directed by Stephen Brackett is a fast- paced fun filled delight. Low budget, yet thoroughly entertaining the evening for children of all ages centers on a young man, Percy Jackson intensely played by Chris McCarrell, who suddenly realizes he has powers he can’t fully control, when he discovers he is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea.
We first meet Percy, who suffers from dyslexia, when he is living with his loving mother and his foul-smelling step-father. However soon he is placed in a summer camp for “half-bloods,” children that are half god and half human. While there he meets the aggressive (Kristin Stokes), the daughter of Athena, Grover, a friendly satyr, and the hostile Mr. D the camp’s director, Dionysus, the god of wine (both played by George Salazar).
Percy quickly discovers his true-identity that he is a demigod and is propelled by his new-found knowledge to attempt to prevent a war between the gods by finding Zeus’s missing lightning bolt. Zeus believes Percy has stolen the lightning bolt, and Percy must travel to Hades, where he is pursed by monsters, to prove him wrong and prevent a war between the Greek gods.
The story moves along at rapid speed spiced with juvenile dialogue that is witty, many sight gags, and an infectious pop/rock score filled with songs which sound alike, but nonetheless put forth some universally positive messages for everyone.
As Percy Chris McCarrell is appealing in the leading role turning in an engagingly high-spirited performance that starts out strong and sustains with passion throughout the evening. The remaining cast of six includes Carrie Compere, James Hayden Rodriguez, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, Jonathan Raviv, Geroge Salazar and Kristin Stokes, who play multiple roles and more than make up for the lack of special effects. They are likewise tremendously energetic and fully committed in a staging by Stephen Brackett that rarely slows down for a moment and is perfect for children of all ages.
An earlier version of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical debuted in New York in 2014 as part of Theatreworks USA’s free theatre series before touring. The Off-Broadway production now features an updated score, expanded script, a larger cast, with a live band.
The staging features musical direction and orchestrations by Wiley DeWeese, choreography by Patrick McCollum (The Band’s Visit), and fight direction by Rod Kinter .
The Lightning Thief is now playing at the Lucille Lortel Theartre, for a limited engagement scheduled to run through May 6, 2017. Tickets are $65-$85 and can be purchased by visiting www.LightningThiefMusical.com or by calling 866- 811-4111. Photos: Jeremy Daniels