If you've somehow missed the hugely popular Percy Jackson book by Rick Riordan or the 2010 movie adaptation, The Lightning Thief is the story of Percy Jackson, a struggling teen (expelled from 5 different schools) who learns that he's the son of a human woman and a Greek god. Although he's been protected most of his life, the monsters from the underworld are now out to get him, so his mom delivers him to Camp Half-Blood, a place for the left-behind children of the gods. The half-blood children learn how to fight and how to use their own godly skills while they wait for a sign or a quest to come from their parent. Many are ignored and frustrated and act out to get attention. Percy is completely in the dark about all of this, and the first act is focused on the revelation, getting to Camp Half-Blood, training, and understanding what it means to be a half-blood. At the end of the act, Percy is sent on a quest and two friends join him. The second act includes their travels, battles, outwitting the evil underworld, meeting Percy's dad, and the conclusion of the quest. The book and its sequels are wonderful for kids age 8-14, filled with well-developed characters, teen angst that kids relate to, and dramatic and heroic moments.
I had trouble envisioning how The Lightning Thief would be transitioned to a musical, since the movie was one of my kids' favorites and I've seen it way too many times. I would recommend NOT seeing the movie to refresh your memory of the story before going to the musical. The musical is a very different take on the story and, due to being confined to a stage and a cast of seven, is inherently limited in scope. Some of the main sections of the book (especially the training at camp and the travels and encounters while on their quest) are raced through very quickly. If you use fresh eyes when watching The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, you'll quickly be able to appreciate it as a fresh, funny, engaging and inventive production. The songs delve deeply into the teen characters to explain who they are and what motivates them. Experiencing "The Day I Got Expelled" and "Good Kid" from Percy helps us understand that he's just your average gawky teen who doesn't get why these crazy things keep happening to him. "My Grand Plan" from Annabeth tells us how smart and strong she is and how hard she's working to catch Athena's (her mother's) attention. Fun songs like "The Campfire Song", "D.O.A." (with a stand-out performance from Jalynne Steele) and "Lost" are catchy and move the story along.
Most of the actors play multiple roles, except for Percy. Chris McCarrell was fantastic as Percy -- awkward and geeky and trying hard to be a good kid. Jorrel Javier was wonderful as Grover (Percy's satyr sidekick) and Dionysus, the frustrated Camp director (and god of wine). Javier's voice wasn't as strong but he did a good job with "The Tree on the Hill" and was hilarious interacting with a squirrel in Act 2. Annabeth was a tough character to connect with. Very determined and smart, she made you think that she had another agenda and might be the one to betray Percy. But she reveals her vulnerabilities in the song "My Grand Plan" -- beautifully sung by Kristin Stokes -- and is Percy's strong ally throughout the show. Ryan Knowles plays multiple roles and has an amazing spoken voice range. His roles were vastly different and masterfully-played; my family is still trying to figure out if it really was Knowles playing the smooth-as-Elvis Hades, the laid-back beach bum Poseidon, the fawning and crafty Medusa, and the seriously absurd Chiron.
If you have a Percy Jackson fan in your family, The Lightning Thief will be a fun and memorable show. If possible, try to get seats in the orchestra or floor section. The show and performers connect with the audience in different ways, and you'll be much more drawn into the action if you're seated on the lower level. We were up in the balcony seats and, while we could see and hear the show perfectly, we felt disconnected from the fun ways that the performers were interacting with the audience.
Tickets available now for The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, playing at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester January 31 to February 3, 2019.
Tickets are $34, $49, $59 and $69 depending on seat location. Discounts are available for members and groups of 10 or more. Contact the box office at 877.571.SHOW (7469) for more information.
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The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Friday, February 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM
Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 8:00 PM
Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 6:30 PM
The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts
2 Southbridge St
Worcester MA 01608
I received free show tickets in order to prepare this show review. No other compensation was received.