BWW Interview: Izzy Figueroa Reflects on THE LIGHTNING THIEF, Being a Role Model, and More
The Lightning Thief musical, based on Rick Riordan's book, has been called a cross between Harry Potter and Dear Evan Hansen, which may be one of the reasons why legions of fans are flocking to see the show as it makes away across the country.
Initially developed as a one-hour musical in 2014 by TheatreWorks USA, a full-length expanded version opened at The Lucille Lortel Theatre in 2017 for a limited run and was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards. Earlier this year, the show launched a national tour. The tour will stop at the Durham Performing Arts Center this week.
"It's a wonderful experience because it stays so true to the book, which is the biggest thing for me and what most fans who come to see the show appreciate," says Izzy Figueroa. "It doesn't fall far at all from what you've already read."
Figueroa, who understudies Grover and Mr. Brunner in the show, says it's the combination of staying true to the books along with a rock-infused score that makes the show so appealing.
"The music is so addicting. It keeps you engaged from the moment that it starts to the moment that it's over, and you're entertained for two hours."
Figueroa was working on another TheatreWorks USA show when he first heard that The Lightning Thief was being turned into a full-length musical. Four years later, he says he feels lucky to be performing in a show with such a built-in fan base.
"I knew when the show ran on Broadway, that there were obviously big stage doors just like any other show in New York, but I had never personally witnessed being on the performance side of it," he says. "It's really insane."
"Every city we go to, you walk out the door and these fans are yelling for you, wanting to take pictures with you, bringing you gifts or asking you about things that they've seen on your social media, and you're like, 'oh my goodness, these people actually follow me."
And speaking of social media, the show has a huge following with over 20,000 followers on Twitter alone. In fact, last month, the show used the Twitter platform to reach out to a 14-year-old boy in an LGBTQ + youth shelter after his social worker tweeted out how music from the show, along with the book, was helping this young man cope. The show responded with the now trending #TLTforNICO and supportive messages started flooding in from around the world. And Figueroa says that's what the show is all about.
"This is not only our job," he says. "But we are role models for these kids who are going through these tough times, and we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to be the best role models we can be."
"Everyone is different but what makes you different makes you strong, which is one of the most amazing messages in our show," he says. "That's relatable for kids, that's relatable for teenagers, and parents and people of all ages."
THE LIGHTNING THIEF opens Tuesday, April 9th at the Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information visit:
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.