What To Expect From The Off-Broadway Musical Adaption Of 'The Lightning Thief'

What To Expect From The Off-Broadway Musical Adaption Of 'The Lightning Thief'

An analysis based on the musical's three-year development.

Earlier last week, Percy Jackson found his way back into the headlines despite the last movie adaption of the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series' release in 2013 meeting poor reviews and the character himself becoming a minor character in Rick Riordan's current series about the Greek gods, "The Trials of Apollo." On Tuesday, the author revealed on his blog that Percy would be heading Off-Broadway to the Lucille Lortel Theatre in "The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical," which, as the name suggests, will be a stage adaption of the first book in the series. Though this was the first that many heard of a stage adaption, the new musical will actually be a rewritten and extended version of an adaptation that premiered in the same theater in the summer of 2014. While the version of the musical premiering this spring will feature a new score and updated script to fill about an hour of additional runtime, we do know enough from the original and what's been released about the new adaption to make a few guesses at how the production is going to go.

The press release on Tuesday may not have told us much, but it did reveal a few intriguing details, the most exciting of which may be the casting of Chris McCarrell as Percy. Best known for his portrayal of Marius in the Broadway revival of "Les Mis," a role I was fortunate enough to see him in last summer. Chris McCarrell definitely has the youthful voice and energy that are necessary to Percy's character along with the ability to show the downcast, dejected side of him that the earlier books tend to focus on, all of which is easy to see in "Good Kid," the song posted with the press release. The release also revealed that the musical will keep the low-budget aesthetic of the original and that this version will "flesh out characters, deepen relationships and include more of the quest," according to Theaterworks representative Barbara Pasternack.

The main source of excitement among fans, though, is not what we've learned from the press release, but what we already know from the original version of the musical. My sister and I saw the show twice in its first life, once in New York and once with the original national tour cast, and found both times that the production was very clearly made by and for people who know and love the story. Despite being only an hour long, the musical was able to make references to books throughout both series, including Bianca appearing in the Lotus Hotel and a subtle nod to Percy and Annabeth's fate in the book that had been most recently released at the time, "The House of Hades," and knew exactly which moments and relationships were important to highlight and capture, like the chapter "We Capture a Flag" becoming an electric duet between Clarisse and Annabeth, or Percy and Sally's visit to Montauk being given its own song, "Strong," to highlight their relationship. The writers also seem to understand that a musical is one of the most ideal ways to adapt the Percy Jackson series, since theater allows for Percy's narration in a natural way that most other mediums would struggle with. Monologues, soliloquies, and the like are made to illustrate the interior mind, allowing for the first line of the book to act as the first line Percy sings to his audience. The first page that Percy dedicates to warning his readers of what may come of reading the book is given to a combination of Percy and a Greek chorus that spends the opening song warning him and the audience of what is to come. Whether or not these moments actually make it into the new version of the musical (though I'm confident that at least "Strong" will make an appearance, since the phrase "be strong" comes up in "Good Kid"), they are signs that the writers are aware of the content they are adapting from and know what it is about the books that made it a staple for a lot of people's childhoods.

Hopefully, more info on the stage adaption will come out in the coming weeks, especially info on the casting on Annabeth and Grover. Whether or not that happens before tickets go on sale January 31st, based on the early productions of the musical, I know I'll definitely be looking to buy a ticket for this spring. For the info that has come out on the production so far, be sure to read Rick Riordan's blog post on the subject or visit the musical's website.

Cover Image Credit: Westport Now

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Why YouTube's New Regulations Discriminate Against Small Channels

No 1,000 subscribers? No money.

On January 16th, YouTube made changes to its Partner Program. These changes pertain to the threshold for monetization. Originally, content creators were eligible for monetization if they had 10,000 or more lifetime views, that is, 10,000 public views.

Now, creators will be required to have 4,000 hours of watch time from the past twelve months, as well as at least 1,000 subscribers. If a content creator does not meet these criteria, they will be unable to monetize their videos.

In a blog post, YouTube announced that this change in monetization regulations is being put in place in order to "prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube". YouTube also claims that they have arrived at the decision to create these new regulations after "conversations with creators". However, the online response by creators towards YouTube's new policies have been almost entirely negative, with many people saying that it would be better to simply punish the channels that are misusing the platform instead of punishing the platform as a whole.

YouTube themselves have stated in the previously mentioned blog post that these changes will effect a significant number of platform users, but have tried to write this off by explaining that 99% of the effected users are making less than $100 a year on YouTube. However, this really isn't a fair excuse.

Yes, $100 is not a lot of money, but think about it this way. This is money that these creators could be using to improve their videos and grow their channels. Now, however, they no longer will be earning the money to do so.

If YouTube wanted to gain more users and dedicated viewers, it is more likely that they would of implemented a different policy, perhaps one that makes stricter guidelines for content. By making it harder for small channels to monetize their views, YouTube appears to only care about their larger channels, often run by internet celebrities who partner with YouTube's streaming service, YouTube Red, to create or star in feature length films or television shows.

It is worth noting that the majority of the top comments on the YouTube blog post are "sub for sub", that is "subscription for subscription". Most of the people commenting this have also included additions such as "if everyone reading this did a sub for sub we could all get at least 1,000 subscribers".

It's clear that while the new guidelines are definitely a blow to smaller channels, many smaller creators are banding together and supporting each other. Many larger creators have spoke up online, offering smaller creators ways to make money while they build up their subscriber base, such as starting up a Patreon (a membership platform where people can give money to creators and receive small gifts or prizes in return).

If YouTube wants to continue to gain users, they shouldn't make changes to the platform that penalize smaller users. Yes, the bigger users bring in the money for YouTube, but in order to continue to grow as a platform, they need to appeal to new users, and encourage smaller channels to keep creating.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay

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'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Is A Hidden Gem Of The 90s

The first film based on our favorite pizza-eating dudes is a lot deeper than you'd think.

Like many, I have been a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise since I was a young boy. I have fond memories of watching the original cartoon, playing the various video games, playing with the toys and reading the comic books. Also, like many, I have fond memories of the live-action films that were released in the early 1990s.

While looking back on the first three film I noticed that films two and three didn't exactly hold up well. While "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" is fun, it's overall a shallow experience. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" was a straight-up bad film with obnoxious writing and characters. However, that wasn't the case when I decided to watch the first film.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was released in 1990 and was a really big hit that year. Looking back at the film, I was surprised to find a sizable amount of thematic depth in the film. I know that sounds surprising coming from a movie based on a cartoon that was used to sell toy, but if "The LEGO Movie" has taught me anything it's that even films based on products can have great characters and depth.

The film's theme is primarily that of fatherhood. Through the characters of Splinter (Kevin Clash) and Shredder (James Saito) we see examples of loving fatherhood and exploitative fatherhood. Splinter is portrayed as an old fashioned father who disciplines the turtles, but always shows them that he loves them and would risk his life for their well being.

By contrast, the Shredder is a surrogate father figure to many of the disenfranchised children and teens of New York City. The Shredder uses their adolescent love of games, smoking, and a sense of belonging to lure them into his criminal empire (The Foot) and uses them to commit various street crimes. He he gives these emotionally troubled youths a "family" and in return he receives loyalty from them.

In many ways this is how real world street gangs maintain a sense of loyalty among its members. Most gang members start as children from broken homes and families. These young people find their escape in the gang which becomes a surrogate family to them. In return they pledge loyalty to that "family" and do everything in their power to protect their "family" from those that would harm it, such as police or rival gangs.

We see both of these examples of fatherhood play out in the film. We see Splinter try to reason with one of the members of the Foot and tells him the story of his origin. This act of kindness and the desire to understand the boy results in the boy helping our heroes in the final fight. We also witness Splinter putting his own life at risk to protect his sons, both when he is being interrogated by Shredder and during the final battle.

Shredder, on the other hand, cares only for his criminal empire and his desire to wipe out his enemies. He may seem like a "cool dad" who brings you games and totally "gets" you, but he eventually reveals that he wasn't all that great and wasn't the type of father you needed. This is punctuated by the boy beginning to fear him when Shredder discovers that he's been talking to the imprisoned Splinter behind his back, and when Shredder's henchman takes out his frustration on one of the Foot ninjas and doesn't seem to care.

The films is good for many other reasons as well. The characters are likable and the costumes are great examples of practical effects work. The fight scenes are really well done and impressive, especially when you remember that actors in hot and bulky costumes had to perform them. The film also has a well-realized gritty aesthetic that reminds viewers of the original comic Ninja Turtles and give New York City this realistic, lived-in feel.

While the film's dialog isn't that great, and the pacing and cinematography are nothing to write home about; it is still a well made children's film that may go a bit deeper than you realize. If you are a fan of the franchise or you have children who are curious about the things their parents loved as kids, then I recommend you give it a watch. It's certainly better than most of the Ninja Turtles films you see nowadays (wow, do I feel old saying that)!

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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