The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Book by Joe Tracz, music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki, adapted from the book, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Longacre Theatre, New York
As most visitors to the Longacre Theatre will be well aware, Percy Jackson is the youthful star of a series of popular novels for teens by Rick Riordan, not to mention a film and now this musical.
The current incarnation, directed by Stephen Brackett, started life off-Broadway and proved so popular with young audiences that it has stepped up to the top league.
Even so, the production rather betrays its origins, looking more like an enlarged version of the original than an all-singing, all-dancing blockbuster designed or redesigned for a major stage. That is not necessarily to denigrate a show that does exactly what its legions of fans will expect.
For two hours, a cast of seven supported by a rock band exude energy and enthusiasm, doing their best to fill the large stage as they relate a story set amongst American kids today but with strong echoes of Greek mythology.
The protagonist, played by Chris McCarrell, is a rather nerdy youngster who suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. Having literally lost his father, his mother, played by the tuneful Jalynn Steele, also passes.
As a result, the lad ends up in a summer camp for demigods where he meets and befriends two other misfits, Kristin Stokes as Annabeth and Jorrel Javier playing Grover.
As becomes apparent, these are not your usual kids because they come into the category of “half-bloods”, since in each case one of their parents is mortal and the other a god.
It takes time but our semi-mythical Clark Kent discovers that his father is none other than Poseidon, God of the Sea.
Following a series of unfortunate occurrences, most of the spectacle injected thanks to the efforts of lighting designer David Lander plus some simple puppets, the trio sets off on a quest to find Hades in the Underworld.
This is the set-up for a relatively thrilling adventure that will keep the kids happy, while providing enough entertainment to ensure that adult companions are on board too.
The music is always lively with some high points, especially when Kristin Stokes sings about “My Grand Plan” and then the whole company bring the final curtain down with their challenge to “Bring on the Monsters”.
While The Lightning Thief may not be high art, it is entertaining and educational, primarily because while there are willing Percy Jackson and his pals on to overcome a series of challenges and baddies, kids will also painlessly learn the rudiments of Greek mythology.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher