The stage is a magical place. Where else would you be able to sit down in a dark room with a bunch of strangers, and watch worlds come alive in front of you? While the art of cinema provides us with spectacles, theater has always been there to provide us with raw emotions. To ask us to suspend our disbelief instead of forcing it with made up visual. Theater has always been an inventive medium in which artists find ways to transport you to other places without a green screen to help them. In “The Lightning Thief – The Percy Jackson Musical,” director Stephen Brackett tackles the story of a young man that has to find himself while traveling across America and fighting monsters and Gods on the way. In other hands this could have been cheesy; in Brackett’s team’s hands, it’s exhilarating.
“The Lightning Thief – The Percy Jackson Musical” is based on a wildly popular young adult book series which already has a film adaptation. So what could Joe Tracz (book writer) and Rob Rokicki (music and lyrics) do differently to make this version special? While some would say the limitations of theater can be a hindrance to the product, there’s other people that would say the limitations add to the thrills. And that’s never been more true than in this project.
While the plot is fairly standard modernized Greek fantasy, it is how it is approached that will make you come back for the second act. The battles are fun, the dialogue is endearing, the light design is captivating, and the sound effects add so much to the environment that losing yourself in the play becomes easy. The relationships between characters are enjoyable — their interactions become the highlight of the show. The musical numbers, which are hit and miss throughout the production, are elevated by a cast that is just having such a great time it’s infectious. Even for a cynical grown adult like me, this was a pleasant diversion, so think about the people this is geared towards!
The cast is fantastic. Led by Chris McCarrell as Percy, this ensemble works with each other in such synchronicity that you are able to not only witness their growth as characters, but as a community. And while McCarrell rocked the stage, it was George Salazar as Grover and Mr. D that steals the show. The song “Another Terrible Day” made the whole room roar with laughter, and that is thanks to the cast being so invested in each step.
If I had a problem with this production it is that the end is anticlimactic, thanks to the book being part of a series. While it is understandable, this is where adaptations can thrive over their source. Having said that, this is a far better adaptation than the film and it didn’t have the filmmaking tricks that team had. So do yourself a service, make sure to go to the Lucille Lortel Theatre and get a ticket for “The Lightning Thief – The Percy Jackson Musical.” It won’t change your life, but it would definitely distract you from life’s troubles.
*Images via Jeremy Daniels
Out of 4 stars:
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