Review: 'The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical' Storms Off-Broadway With A Splash

Review: 'The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical' Storms Off-Broadway With A Splash

The musical adaption of Rick Riordan's best-selling novel is an instant hit with fans.

Picture this: Chris McCarrell slides down to the edge of the stage, hair disheveled and lips curled into Percy’s infamous, troublemaking smirk, sits eye-level with his audience, and sings his opening line with a cutting combination of snark and weariness: “Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.” When “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” was first announced in January, fans of the series were both excited and understandably anxious, worried that Joe Tracz and Rob Rokicki’s production might indulge in the abounding inaccuracies the movie adaptions’ interpretations of the characters and plots offered. Once McCarrell’s Percy runs onstage, spinning sharp, playful cheek into every line and making faces at the audience throughout the show’s opening number, “The Day I Got Expelled,” though, all fear of a repeat of those mistakes floods away. His entire performance as Percy completely captures every aspect of Percy’s personality, from his anger to his gentle compassion, from his sarcastic and confused sense of humor to his often self-deprecating dejection. His characterization makes its way into his posture and into every word of dialogue, and got so deeply to the core of the character that I found myself crying as he leaned precariously from the second level of the set’s scaffolding during “Good Kid,” despite having heard the song on repeat since its release when the show was first announced.

This deep understanding of the source material extends to every part of the musical, from its characters to its DIY aesthetic and set design to the way it moves its plot. George Salazar’s performances as Grover and Mr. D were equally amazing, the former hitting every aspect of the character’s combination of excitement and nerves, and the latter inducing countless laughs throughout the show. Kristin Stokes, who has only gotten better since the show’s first run back in 2014, portrays all of Annabeth’s pride and drive while still emphasizing Annabeth’s sharp-witted, high-spirited side. Every character Carrie Compere plays is astounding, though the standout is her interpretation of Sally, who is kind and resilient and every bit an echo of the text as the rest of the show. Jonathan Raviv captures Chiron and Poseidon hilariously, Sarah Beth Pfeifer somehow manages to move seamlessly from playing Clarisse to playing woodland creatures, and James Hayden Rodriguez’s Luke is instantly charming. Every character is carefully crafted to match their novel counterpart, an aspect of the show that even extends to their interactions with other characters. The fact that this show goes out of its way to show moments like Luke, Annabeth, and Grover sitting together and talking in the background of a scene, a familiar girl in a floppy hat and braids telling Percy that she and her brother arrived at the Lotus Hotel in 1939, or Silena joining Clarisse’s capture the flag team all show just how involved with the text not only the actors are, but the show is as a whole.

This attention to detail is also found in the dialogue and plot, as a good amount of the lines are lifted directly from the books. A large part of the movies’ failure to please fans was in the fact that they used the base the books created and created their own stories out of them, completely deviating from what the heart of the series was actually about. Many will be happy to hear that this musical tells the story of “The Lightning Thief” from start to finish (which shouldn’t be that hard a feat, but apparently is). It's important to note that the show isn’t just a word-for-word reading of the book, though. It uses the musical form to its advantage to tell a loyal and yet unique version of the story, craft its own hilarious sense of humor, and use music and action to emphasize some of the characters' most important traits. I’ve written before about how a musical is the perfect medium for adapting the Percy Jackson series because of the ability it offers to fluidly blend inner monologue into the story through song, and this musical used that power to its full extent. Since Percy’s actual dialogue in “The Lightning Thief” is normally a bit more biting and angry than the humor found in his narration (See: Percy’s comical opening chapter leading up to his first line of dialogue, “I’m going to kill her.”), the musical is able to use its tone to create the light-hearted atmosphere of Percy’s narration and provide him his inner thoughts through song, both while staying true to the way Percy genuinely speaks. The show’s more stylized moments, like Annabeth and Luke’s arms forming Thalia’s tree as she sings quietly and Grover tells Percy her story with tears in his eyes, (an effect that had me crying for the third or fourth time that night), Annabeth’s choreography during her “I Want” song, “My Grand Plan,” being incorporated into her battle training with her dagger, and Luke singing a twisted reprise of “Good Kid” during the musical’s climax, all take scenes and characters from the novels and heighten them through the unique qualities and opportunities theater offers to create emotions and images that cannot be crafted on paper alone. Additions and changes to the story and moments deleted from the book are done with care, especially for the tone of Percy’s narration, from new scenes like Annabeth teaching Percy how to hold his sword to alterations like Cerberus becoming a DJ for Charon’s incredible introduction to the Underworld. The creators of this show clearly understand the advantages they have working in theater and know how to use them to tell their story effectively.

The entire experience of the show, from the way the theater is absorbed by the sound of thunder overhead in the time before the show starts to the orchestra being left a mess of confetti and toilet paper once it ended, absolutely got to the heart of Percy Jackson’s unique tone, story, and characters. The show is still in previews, so it may change a bit before its opening night on April 4th, but from what I’ve seen, I completely trust this production with the story and cannot wait to see what’s in store for the musical once it solidifies into what I’m sure will be a spectacular final product that will be loved by fans for years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Playbill

Popular Right Now

50 Quotes from the Best Vines

If you're picturing the vines in your head, you're doing it right

In 2017 we had to say goodbye to one of the best websites to ever roam the internet: Vine. In case you have been living under a rock since 2013, Vine was -(sad face)- a website and app that took the internet and the app store by storm in Winter 2013. It contained 6-second videos that were mostly comedy- but there were other genres including music, sports, cool tricks and different trends. Vine stars would get together and plan out a vine and film it till they got it right.

It was owned by Twitter and it was shut down because of so many reasons; the viners were leaving and making money from Youtube, there was simply no money in it and Twitter wanted us to suffer.

There's been a ton of threads on Twitter of everyone's favorite vines so I thought I'd jump in and share some of my favorites. So without further ado, here are some quotes of vines that most vine fanatics would know.

1. "AHH...Stahhp. I coulda dropped mah croissant"

2. "Nate how are those chicken strips?" "F%#K YA CHICKEN STRIPS.....F%#K ya chicken strips!"

3. "Road work ahead? Uh Yea, I sure hope it does"

4. "Happy Crimus...." "It's crismun..." "Merry crisis" "Merry chrysler"

5. "...Hi Welcome to Chili's"

6. "HoW dO yOu kNoW wHaT's gOoD fOr mE?" "THAT'S MY OPINIONNN!!!.."

7."Welcome to Bible Study. We're all children of Jesus... Kumbaya my looordd"

8. Hi my name's Trey, I have a basketball game tomorrow. Well I'm a point guard, I got shoe game..."

9. "It's a avocadooo...thanks"

10. "Yo how much money do you have?" "69 cents" "AYE you know what that means?" "I don't have enough money for chicken nuggets"

11. "Hurricane Katrina? More like Hurricane Tortilla."

12. "Hey Tara you want some?" "This b*%th empty. YEET!"

13. "Get to Del Taco. They got a new thing called Freesha-- Free-- Freeshavaca do"

14. "Mothertrucker dude that hurt like a buttcheek on a stick"

15. "Two brooss chillin in a hot tub 5 feet apart cuz they're not gay"

16. "Jared can you read number 23 for the class?" "No I cannot.... What up I'm Jared, I'm 19 and I never f#@%in learned how to read."

17. "Not to be racist or anything but Asian people SSUUGHHH"

18. 18. "I wanna be a cowboy baby... I wanna be a cowboy baby"

19. "Hey, I'm lesbian" "I thought you were American"

20. "I spilled lipstick in your Valentino bag" "you spilled- whaghwhha- lipstick in my Valentino White bag?"

21. "What's better than this? Guys bein dudes"

22. "How'd you get these bumps? ya got eggzma?" "I got what?" "You got eggzma?"

23. "WHAT ARE THOSEEEEE?" "THEY are my crocs!"

24. "Can I get a waffle? Can I please get a waffle?"

25. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAVEN!" "I can't sweem"

26. "Say Coloradoo" "I'M A GIRAFFE!!"

27. "How much did you pay for that taco?" Aight yo you know this boys got his free tacoo"

28. *Birds chirping* "Tweekle Tweekle"

29. "Girl, you're thicker than a bowl of oatmeal"

30. "I brought you Frankincense" "Thank you" "I brought you Myrrh" "Thank you" "Mur-dur" ""

31. "Sleep? I don't know about's summertime" "You ain't go to bed?" "Oh she caught me"

32. "All I wanna tell you is school's not important... Be whatever you wanna be. If you wanna be a dog...RUFF. You know?"33. "Oh I like ya accent where you from?" "I'm Liberian" "Oh, my bad *whispering* I like your accent..."

34. "Next Please" "Hello" "Sir, this is a mug shot" "A mug shot? I don't even drink coffee"

35. "Hey did you happen to go to class last week?" "I have never missed a class"

36. "Go ahead and introduce yourselves" "My name is Michael with a B and I've been afraid of insects my entire-" "Stop, stop, stop. Where?" "Hmm?" "Where's the B?" "There's a bee?"

37. "There's only one thing worse than a rapist...Boom" "A child" "No"

38. "Later mom. What's up me and my boys are going to see Uncle Kracker...GIVE ME MY HAT BACK JORDAN! DO YOU WANNA SEE UNCLE KRACKER OR NO?

39. "Dad look, it's the good kush." This is the dollar store, how good can it be?"

40. "Zach stop...Zach stop...You're gonna get in trouble. Zach"

41. "CHRIS! Is that a weed? "No this is a crayon-" I'm calling the police" *puts 911 into microwave* "911 what's your emergency"

42. "WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? "

43. *Blowing vape on table* * cameraman blows it away* "ADAM"

44. "Would you like the spider in your hand?" "Yea" "Say please" "Please" *puts spider in hand* *screams*

45. "Oh hi, thanks for checking in I'm still a piece of garrbaagge"

46. *girl blows vape* "...WoW"

47. *running* "...Daddy?" "Do I look like-?"

48. *Pours water onto girl's face" "Hello?"

49. "Wait oh yes wait a minute Mr. Postman" "HaaaAHH"

50. "...And they were roommates" "Mah God they were roommates"

I could literally go on forever because I just reference vines on a daily basis. Rest in peace Vine

Cover Image Credit: Vine

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I've Decided I'm Officially Changing My Name To Donna And I'm Looking For My Dynamos

Here we go again.


I had the pleasure of attending an early viewing of the long-awaited sequel "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," and let me just tell you, it was an emotional rollercoaster. I'm going to try not to give too much away, but I do want to caution you, there may be some spoilers in here (they will absolutely be kept to a minimum).

First off, I want to say that I was expecting to be fairly disappointed. I didn't think it was going to be a bad film, but I did worry that it would never live up to the original "Mamma Mia!" I also couldn't help noticing how entertaining the ads for the film were. In my experience, when a trailer is really amazing, the film doesn't usually have much to add.

This was not the case with the "Mamma Mia!" sequel. In fact, I was absolutely shocked within the first 5 minutes of the film, and the surprises didn't stop there. I don't really want to give much away, so I'll just say that my jaw hung open for at least half of the movie.

Aside from the laughing and the crying at every twist in the plot; the set, costumes, cinematography, and music also gave me all kinds of feelings. The island is more beautiful than ever and I definitely want to steal the entire wardrobe closet from the film.

All of that is great, but what really made "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" an amazing film? It wasn't the talented cast, the set, or the music, but rather the emotions the film made me feel and the lessons it taught me about myself.

In the film, we get to see a whole new side of Donna. We get to watch young Donna as she travels Europe and begins to figure out what she wants her life to be like. There is something so carefree about Young Donna. She sees the world differently.

Young Donna is fearless.

She travels Europe as a young woman, and she is totally alone. She doesn't let fear get in the way of her adventure. She knows exactly where she wants to go and she'll do just about anything to make it happen. It is through that determination that she is able to meet new people, build relationships, experience different cultures, have fun everywhere, and see beauty and potential where others can't.

Donna's friends may not have the same fearlessness that makes Donna so special, but they are some of the best friends a girl could ask for. They are there for each other when they need to be. They're willing to travel Europe to see each other. They aren't afraid to be silly, they don't worry about drawing attention, and most importantly they have fun.

I want to be more like Donna. She went after everything she ever wanted with few plans at all, and everything seemed to work out for her (yes, I do know that it's a movie). It's time to focus on where I want to go and not worry so much about how to get there. Along the way I'm sure there will be beauty hidden in unexpected places, I just have to pay attention enough to notice more of it.

I'm changing my name to Donna.

Ok, so maybe I'm not really changing my name to Donna, but that doesn't mean I can't live with a Donna mindset. If you want to spend more time going with the flow and having fun then I want you to be one of my dynamos. We too can be the greatest band who ever lived.

Cover Image Credit:

Related Content

Facebook Comments