Off Broadway Review THE LIGHTNING THIEF: The Percy Jackson Musical – Normal is a Myth

There’s nothing like seeing a live performance whether it’s on Broadway or off-Broadway, and, fortunately, for many families there are quite a few kid-friendly options.  If your family has teens or tweens obsessed with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, then THE LIGHTNING THIEF: The Percy Jackson Musical at the Lucille Lortell Theatre is a must-see and soon, because the run ends May 6th.  It’s a two-hour show, including an intermission, and there is merchandise for sale on the mezzanine.  George Gensler provides a spoiler-free review of THE LIGHTNING THIEF below. 

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Courtesy of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

“THE LIGHTNING THIEF: The Percy Jackson Musical” Off-Broadway Review

A quick heads-up to those parents who have dark- or noise-sensitive kids: the Lucille Lortell Theatre is small with excellent acoustics, so it can get loud.  There are some quite dark moments, generally to facilitate set changes, so they’re brief.  If the children in your party aren’t bothered by the dark or loud noises, they’ll have a great time.  The show is action-packed, the music is in a modern rock style, and the set, though minimalist, is incredibly versatile.  The theatre was full of kids (school groups, I think) and they all seemed to have a great time.  This show is great for teens and tweens, but younger children will enjoy it, too, if they’re not too afraid of monsters (this is a story about the Greek myths, after all).  Sit in the first five rows of the middle of the audience if your kids like to feel a part of the story (by being showered with confetti or “water”).

Kristen Stokes, Chris McCarrell and George Salazar. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Kristen Stokes, Chris McCarrell and George Salazar. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

THE SET is spare, but efficiently managed.  If you’re familiar with the Percy Jackson story of “The Lightning Thief,” you know that the action takes place in various cities across the U.S. and in several modes of transportation.  The set pieces are ingeniously designed to have multiple functions and are used in various ways.  One piece represented a bus, a train, a tractor, and more.

Lightning Thief Set

THE MUSIC is rock (played by a live band) and the lyrics cleverly convey the teen angst of the story while weaving in the Greek myths eloquently.   My favorite song from the preview was “Another Terrible Day,” but, now, I think it’s “Good Kid.” Chris McCarrell, as Percy, wrung my heart when he sang it during the show. There are over a dozen new songs (to me, since the three during the preview), rounding out the story nicely.

Lightning Thief: Chris McCarrell as Percy. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Chris McCarrell as Percy. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

THE COSTUMES range from traditional teenage apparel (hoodies, t-shirts, etc.) to fantastical outfits designed to evoke mythical creatures and gods from Ancient Greece, but existing in modern-day America.  From Ares’ leather motorcycle pants and jacket to Auntie Em’s chic turban and oversized sunglasses, the costumes perfectly fit the characters and, for the most part, mask the fact that most of the actors are playing multiple roles.

Lightning Thief: Chris McCarrell as Percy fights a Minatour. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Chris McCarrell as Percy fights a Minatour. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Lightning Thief: James Hayden Roderiguez as Aries and Percy Jackson. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

James Hayden Roderiguez as Aries and Percy Jackson. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

THE STORY, for those unfamiliar with the Percy Jackson novels, tells the story of the Greek gods as they are now, which is pretty much the same as they were in Ancient Greece, but with modern clothes (mostly).  After all, as Chiron says in the beginning, the fact that people stopped believing in the Greek gods doesn’t mean they stopped existing.  And they’re still up to the same old shenanigans as they were back then, which is why we have kids like Percy, Grover, and Annabeth, the three protagonists of this tale.  These three set out on a quest to appease the Greek gods who are rumbling over Zeus’ missing lightning bolt.  There are prophecies, battles (against monsters and gods), many clever nods to missing bits of the story (it’s a two-hour show, so not every part of the story could be told in full detail), and real, meaningful insights into teen issues and anxieties.  There are many humorous moments and lots of toilet paper (you’ll just have to see it to understand), but the powerful messages of the original book are all there.  If it brought tears to my eyes, I can only imagine that it will also evoke a response from teenagers who may be experiencing similar issues.

Lightning Thief: Kristin Stokes, Chris McCarrell and George Salazar

Kristin Stokes, Chris McCarrell and George Salazar

THE STAND-OUTS:  The cast is small – just seven actors play all of the roles.  Five of the seven play multiple roles and are so good at it, that it’s difficult to tell that they’re not all different people in those roles.  George Salazar was brilliant as Mr. D. and Grover (as both the American kid and the Greek version of himself).  From his distinctive walk as Grover to his frustration as Mr. D., he was fantastic!  As I mentioned above, my new favorite song is “Good Kid,” but my favorite of the new songs is “D.O.A.,” which was funny and clever and fun to watch.  My favorite message was “the things that make you different are the things that make you strong” – very powerful, especially for teenagers.

Lightning Thief: Chris McCarrell as Percy Jackson and George Salazar as Mr. D. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

Chris McCarrell as Percy Jackson and George Salazar as Mr. D. Photo by Jeremy Daniels

DISCLOSURE: George Gensler received two complimentary tickets to “THE LIGHTNING THIEF:  The Percy Jackson Musical” for the purposes of this review.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  Have you seen “THE LIGHTNING THIEF”?  If so, leave a comment below to share your thoughts on this off-Broadway production.  For more family entertainment news and reviews, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagramtwitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.