"The Lightning Thief" excels in its musical adaptation

By AARON ACEVEDO
On November 6, 2019

Photo courtesy of Larry D. Moore, Wikipedia

If you ask people to name a famous children’s book series besides “Harry Potter,” there is a good chance that most will reply with “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” Originally consisting of five books written by Rick Riordan, the series follows Percy Jackson, a boy who learns that he is the son of Poseidon, leading to him going on numerous adventures in order to save the world.

Combining Greek mythology with a witty sense of humor, the book series has captured the hearts of millions of readers, with its success shown through years on the New York Times Bestseller list and sequel series that keep the original storyline going.

In 2017, a musical for the first book, “The Lightning Thief” was released, garnering large amounts of praise from critics and audiences. Eventually, it was announced that the musical would be moved to Broadway, with previews on Sept. 20th and opening night on Oct. 16.

Although the musical faces pressure from fans to properly adapt the novel, it succeeds with flying colors, creating a musical more than worthy of the gods.

As mentioned before, the series focuses on Percy Jackson, but in “The Lightning Thief,” Percy first learns of his parentage and the impending war between the gods. Someone has stolen Zeus’s lightning bolt, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Joined by his best friend Grover Underwood and his new frenemy Annabeth Chase, the three demigods must travel across America to reach the Underworld and find the thief before a world war occurs.

One of the main criticisms for the 2010 movie adaptation of “The Lightning Thief” was that it barely followed its source material. Skeptics need not worry about that with the musical, as it sticks to most of the main plot points of the book in its 125-minute runtime. It does cut out some parts and some moments feel rushed but considering that it is based on an almost 400-page book, it is an understandable flaw.

The musical itself does not use a lot of intricate sets and props, opting for a minimalistic approach. At first glance, it may sound modest, but the show uses everyday materials, such as leaf blowers and toilet paper rolls, in creative and well-done ways that keep audiences looking forward to whatever will come next.

As for the cast itself, every person in the seven-person troupe does a phenomenal job. There are numerous characters that are portrayed, and most of them are done through various costume changes and hilarious voice work.

The main cast embody Percy (Chris McCarrell), Grover (Jorrel Javier) and Annabeth (Kristin Stokes) perfectly, injecting the charisma and wit needed to bring their characters to life.

The music itself is based in pop-rock, with each song properly portraying the emotions and struggles of the characters while also inserting the comedy that made its source material so attractive to readers.

“My Grand Plan,” “Drive” and “Good Kid” are just three of the many songs that audiences will be tapping their foot too long after the curtain closes.

Each song conveys messages of heroism and self-empowerment, encouraging people to be true to themselves and to face their real-world challenges head-on. The songs work to not only bring their viewers a message that they can be strong, but they also come with catchy lyrics that will effortlessly stay with them.

“The Lightning Thief” is an enriched musical that everyone should see, despite being a fan of the book series. Its feel-good music, phenomenal sets and cast and commitment to the source material are some of the many things to be admired.

It stands as the best adaptation of the “Percy Jackson” books to date, and it welcomes newcomers to the series and veterans alike. Lightning has struck the streets of Broadway, so prepare yourselves for an adventure and grab your tickets for its limited run today!

5/5 stars

 

aaceved3@ramapo.edu

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