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.