Rob Reviews "The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical"
Sometimes, it helps to not only go into something as cold as you can but also to have a balance of someone who is for most purposes the exact opposite. Upon finding out that “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” was coming to town for a quick run at Dallas’ Winspear Opera House, one of my nieces loudly proclaimed to her father that Uncle Rob needed to take her to it. Upon finding out that we would have the opportunity to attend Press Night for it, there was no one else on my list to bring. Since she has read ALL of Rick Riordan’s series of books (and even re-read the source material for this one right before we saw it), I was just as intrigued to see this through her eyes as I was for myself.
There were a LOT of families of all walks of life in the room with us as the lights went down and started the story of Jackson (Chris McCarrell, who played the role in the off-Broadway production), a teenager who doesn’t seem to fit in. After being expelled from his fifth school as a result from an “incident” on a class field trip to a museum, his mother (Jalynn Steele) takes him away for the weekend in order to tell him that he is actually a demi-god, the product of a human mother and a Greek god of a father. From there, he attends Camp Half-Blood, where he meets figures from his past and new friends as he winds up on a mission to find lightning stolen from Zeus by his brother, Hades (Ryan Knowles), before it is used to incite war between the gods themselves that could destroy the world.
The best way that I can describe this production is as “new Broadway”. With an active cast of only seven performers, I was impressed in how each of their multiple roles (outside of McCarrell and Kirsten Stokes as Annabeth) with mastery and are able to do the little things to distinguish each of their characters to the audience. (On a side note, this is one of the most completely talented casts, top to bottom, that I have seen in a VERY long time.) The music seemed a bit cheesy at first with “Prologue/The Day I Got Expelled,” but once it gets its feet underneath it (or maybe I just got accustomed to it), it compliments the story very well. I cannot say that this thing drags or weighs down, with a four-piece live band in the rafters that keep things moving nicely and tech that is simply top-notch. However, the real test would come from my niece and her assessment of the show.
As the story unfolded, her smile seemed to just get bigger and bigger. There were times where I would lean over an nudge her to be greeted with an emphatic nod that this adaptation was doing what it was supposed to do. Her feelings could simply be summed up when she told me that this version was actually closer to the source material than the movie that was released in 2010. She did say that the second act was a bit rushed, but it hit all of the right notes at the right times to keep the story moving.
For me, I REALLY enjoyed this and can see why this is touring the country, bringing out the kids and lining them up at the merchandise stands, which we totally saw at the Winspear. I may actually be intrigued a bit to check out the book when I decide to make time to read (and from what my niece tells me, there are a LOT of books in this universe), so take the family to see this when it comes to a city near you!