By Joe Tracz, based on the novel by Rick Riordan; Music and Lyrics by Rob Rokicki;
Directed by Stephen Brackett
Produced by Theatreworks NYC
Off Broadway, Musical
Runs through 5.6.17
Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street
BOTTOM LINE: Teen rebel and unlikely hero Percy Jackson takes audience members on an epic quest filled with monsters, music, and a plethora of Greek gods.
While children’s stories featuring "the chosen one" are a dime a dozen, The Lightning Thief stands apart from the rest by making the ancient contemporary and relevant. It’s not the typical "boy meets girl, boy loses girl" story. Instead, it’s more of a "boy meets Fury in New York City, Fury attacks boy, boy slays Fury, boy loses family, boy tasked with saving the world" type of tale. Theatreworks NYC has bravely taken on the ambitious project of theatricalizing Percy Jackson, the eponymous teen champion from Rick Riordan’s celebrated children’s series about a fatherless misfit who discovers his origins are not so humble. In fact, his parentage is positively Olympian.
Writer Joe Tracz has excellently adapted Riordan’s novel for the stage by infusing wit and nonstop action into the high-stakes quest. Director Stephen Brackett creates a playful world, evoking elements of children’s theater complete with cartoonishly creepy puppets and a motorcycle made of a flood light and handlebars. The audience is particularly delighted to be TP’d by toilet paper rolls streaming wildly from powerful leaf blowers, designed to symbolize Poseidon’s great waves of water.
Carrying the production is Chris McCarrell in the title role of Percy Jackson. McCarrell is a charming young actor with a golden voice and swoon-worthy good looks. He particularly shines when paired with Carrie Comprere, whose versatile voice encompasses a wide range of supporting characters including the soul-singing Chiron and Percy’s dulcet-toned mother. The cantankerous god/camp director Dionysus, played wonderfully by George Salazar, also proves to be an excellent scene stealer and chair kicker.
While the ensemble moves well thanks to Patrick McCollum’s spirited choreography, much of Rob Rokicki’s music and lyrics are drowned out amidst the incredibly loud musical accompaniment. The level on the mics also seems to be a problem, often resulting in an uncomfortably high volume which makes it very difficult to decipher fast-paced lyrics. Audio errors aside, audience members will delight in this theatrical adaptation of Rick Riordan’s popular novel, which stays faithful to the source material and will keep fans of Greek mythology greatly entertained.
(The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical plays at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, through May 6, 2017. The running time is two hours with an intermission. Performances are Mondays and Tuesdays at 7:30; Thursdays at 2 and 7:30; Fridays at 7:30; Saturdays at 2 and 7:30; and Sundays at 3. Tickets are $65-$85 ($30 rush tickets) and are available by calling 866-811-4111 or at lightningthiefmusical.com.)
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is by Joe Tracz, based on a book by Rick Riordan. Music and Lyrics by Rob Rokicki. Directed by Stephen Brackett. Choreography is by Patrick McCollum. Scenic Design is by Lee Savage. Costume Design is by Sydney Maresca. Lighting Design is by David Lander. Sound Design is by Ryan Rumery. Music Director is Wiley Deweese. Orchestrations by Wiley Deweese and Rob Rokicki. Fight Director is Rod Kinter. Production Manager is Bob Daley. Production Stage Manager is Leigh'Ann Andrews.
The cast is Chris McCarrell, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, Jonathan Raviv, James Hayden Rodriguez, George Salazar, Kristen Stokes, and Carrie Compere.