For some reason, there hasn’t been a lot of discussion of the fact that there’s a "Percy Jackson" musical. Yes, that Percy Jackson. Of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," the bestselling series about preteens who discover that they’re the children of the Greek gods. The series that spawned a bunch of lesser knockoffs and a ton of quizzes to determine which is your godly parent. That series. The first book has been made into a musical, and the soundtrack has just been released. To those of you who loved "Percy Jackson" as a child but are leery of the idea of your childhood favorites being updated to include snappy dance numbers and a great vocal line, this article is for you. This is why you should drop whatever angsty emo-core music you’re listening to and listen to the "Percy Jackson" musical soundtrack – excuse me, the "Lightning Thief" musical – right the heck now.
Songwriter Rob Rokicki managed to include Percy and his mother’s love of blue food in a touching, inspiring, and not ridiculously out-of-place way. In the song “Strong,” Sally Jackson uses the blue food as a metaphor to express to her son that it’s OK to be different, and that “the very things that make us different make us strong.” This song also acknowledges Percy’s struggles with ADHD and dyslexia without sensationalizing them or treating them like the worst things that could possibly happen to a kid. Instead, they’re treated like parts of everyday life, things that are difficult but not crippling. This matter-of-fact, straightforward acceptance of mental illness is refreshing. For fans of the book, there’s the strong characterization of Sally Jackson to appreciate, and those who haven’t read the original novel will enjoy the tender and humorous portrayal of the relationship between a single mother and her son.
Remember Dionysus from the book? Or know him vaguely as the Greek god of wine and parties? He gets a song to himself, about how much he hates the kids at the half-blood summer camp he supervises – and he sings it directly to the kids themselves. It serves as a good introduction to the world of the novel and the play, and it’s also a nice jolt of humor after an emotionally taxing scene which I will not mention because spoilers. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. If not – life is full of surprises.
The score includes the diverse and varied sounds of the United States, from gospel to rock and roll to your good old-fashioned musical theatre standards. What they have in common is a driving, upbeat rhythm, and a full orchestration that features the ensemble in almost every song. If you’ve ever been part of a high school musical cast, you know what it feels like to wait backstage for your two lines in one song – but this soundtrack gives the ensemble multiple chances to shine. The book and lyrics are both clever, and pay homage to Rick Riordan’s quippy writing style and the humor of a book series narrated by the most jaded and sassiest of preteens. Did you hate the way the ill-advised film adaptation aged everyone up? Fear not – the kids here are very certainly kids.
Songs you shouldn’t miss: “The Day I Got Expelled/Prologue,” “Good Kid,” “My Grand Plan,” “Drive,” and “Another Terrible Day” (the aforementioned Dionysus song). Is that the entire first act? Silly me. It’s just that good.
"The Lightning Thief" stays true to the book, but brings something refreshing to the story without torturing the plot to death the way the feature films did. Go listen to "The Lightning Thief." The Oracle said to.