Review Roundup: THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL National Tour Opens in Chicago
With more than 100 million copies of the book series sold worldwide, this global phenomenon has found a new home on the live stage in a "mesmerizing" theatrical event that proves "lightning can strike twice!" (TheaterMania). Following a sold out run in New York City, where it garnered 3 Drama Desk Award nominations, including Best Musical, this "winning adaptation" (The Hollywood Reporter) is coming to rock a city near you.
As a son of Poseidon, Percy Jackson has newly discovered powers he can't control, monsters on his trail, and is on a quest to find Zeus' lightning bolt to prevent a war between the Greek gods. Based on the best-selling Disney-Hyperion novel by Rick Riordan and featuring a thrilling original rock score, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is an action-packed theatrical adventure that has been celebrated by audiences and critics alike.
THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL has a Drama Desk nominated book by Joe Tracz, music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki, and is directed by Stephen Brackett, with choreography by Patrick McCollum, with set design by Lee Savage, costume design by Sydney Maresca, Obie award winning sound design by Ryan Rumery, lighting design by David Lander, fight direction by Rod Kinter and orchestrations by Wiley Deweese and Rob Rokicki. The production is being presented by special arrangement with Rick Riordan and the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: The show's greatest asset is indeed its music. Penned by Rob Rokicki, the lively pop score has a distinct forward drive, a nice amount of musical diversity and a few terrific balladic showcases for the two top-drawer actor-singers in the show, Chris McCarrell, who is excellent as Percy, and Kristin Stokes, who plays the sparky Annabeth. When that pair is in control of the musical storytelling (and Percy disappears too much from the weaker Act 2), you can see what this show could be. Unfortunately, though, almost everyone in the cast is stuck with three or four roles, which saves money, for sure, but tends to lead the mostly young actors toward sketched cliches. It also doesn't help the audience empathize with Riordan's even-handed slate of characters - throughout the Percy Jackson series, he makes the point that everyone has their issues. Even the gods.
Alex Huntsberger, Chicago Sun-Times: Not every story needs to be turned into a musical, the same way not every story needs to be a movie, and Rick Riordan's best-selling 2005 young adult novel "The Lightning Thief" is the perfect example. Riordan's modern-day story of young Perseus "Percy" Jackson, half-god son of Poseidon, was adapted into a movie in 2010. The result was - what's the right way to put this -extremely bad.
Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy, Chicago Parent: Percy Jackson fans will revel in the fact that The Lightning Thief sticks so closely to the book. For those who haven't yet read the bestseller, Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon who finds himself with difficulty fitting in, with powers he can't control and monsters on his trail. After Percy and his mom are attacked by a uber-scary Minotaur, he finds himself at Camp Half-Blood with other half-human, half-God kids who rail against their absent parents. Percy finds his place with his pal Grover (the hilarious Jorrel Javier), a satyr, and Annabeth (Kristin Stokes), the beautiful, tough daughter of Greek goddess Athena, team up for a quest.
Misha Davenport, BroadwayWorld: McCarrell is absolutely flawless as the show's titular hero. His Percy is awkward and engaging; a teen who wields snark as a shield and can't understand why things never seem to go his way. His emotionally raw delivery of "Good Kid" is the type of song likely to become a teen anthem. You'll be awed by his talent. He's that good.
The Fourth Walsh: The seven member ensemble is solid! At the heart of the show are the trio warriors of McCarrell, Javier and Stokes. Although their camaraderie has a very Harry Potter-Hermione-Ron vibe, this threesome can also sing, dance and hold their own in a monster fight. Many of the ensemble play multiple roles. Two standouts are Ryan Knowles and Jalynn Steele. A hilariously funny Knowles goes from a prancing Chiron to a convulsing Medusa to a laid-back beach comber. He engages by continually popping-up as very different and distinct characters. Steele also transforms from supportive mom to irritated daughter of Aphrodite to vivacious hostess of Hades. Her "D.O.A." number is a show stopper.