The Lightning Thief: A Percy Jackson Musical Review

The Lightning Thief: A Percy Jackson Musical was mythical. It truly was from the books and for the books. It came to the Durham Performing Arts Center for two days early this April. As an avid fan of both the books and the musical, I knew this was a show I could not miss. So there I went, in a bright orange shirt on April 10. I was left breathless and further in love with the Rick Riordan universe.

The musical did its first performance in 2017 but has been on a national tour of the past few months. While most of the cast was the same, some new faces brought a new air to the show and only improved what was already worthy of the gods.

The performance of the cast was executed beautifully. From the first moments of the show as Luke, played by James Hayden Rodriguez, came out from behind giant blue silk drapes, I knew I was in for a great show. The whole cast performed with such energy and enthusiasm that by the end of the first song the packed theater of the DPAC was cheering loudly.

One of the first things I noticed about Chris McCarrell, playing Percy Jackson, was how well he fit the role. McCarrell small actions such as playing with his jacket or moving with his hands made a real difference in helping bring the son of poseidon to life. His energy and emotions were contagious. You cried when he did and laughed alongside him.

Jorrel Javier is one of the new actors for the show, playing everyone’s favorite satyr Grover Underwood. He also played Mr. D, the camp director. His performance in “Another Terrible Day” was so hilarious and a great contrast to the tear jerking performance in “The Tree on the Hill”.

Annabeth Chase was played by the extremely talented Kristin Stokes. She has an extremely unique voice and the ability to play Annabeth’s sarcasm and attitude perfectly. Stokes is also the dance captain for the cast. I’ve played the cast recording to death over the past two years, and hearing Stokes’s angelic voice come to life was surreal. She was able to outperform the recording, something not many actors can accomplish.

I touched on James Hayden Rodriguez, who plays Luke Castellan among other minor characters. He was the first character on stage. I will never forget those opening few seconds as he sang one of the iconic lines of the show, “The gods are real, like the greek gods”. Rodriguez’s interactions with the other characters, especially Annabeth, brought Luke directly from the pages rather than his strictly clinical cinematic counterpart. The musical was able to bring the characters alive in the way the movies couldn’t.

Jalynn Steele is another new member of the cast, playing many roles including Sally Jackson, Charon, and Silena Beauregard. Steele blew me away with her incredible vocals during “DOA”. The performance was easily one of the best in the show. She truly brought the music to the underworld.

Sarah Beth Pfeifer sure had her plate full during the show with many different parts. These includes Clarisse, Ms. Dodds, Thalia Grace, Katie Gardner, and more. She quickly was able to change into a new character and was able to play each part different from the last. Her vocal battle with Annabeth in “Put You in Your Place” was amazing. She really brought the strength and intensity of Clarisse to life.  

The mentoring centaur was played by Ryan Knowles. He also played other parts including Hades and Poseidon. Ryan was another new addition to the cast. He played the loving Chiron so well that it is no wonder Percy thought of him as the best teacher. He was able to also bring two of the gods to the stage and away from Olympus, the calm and relaxed Poseidon and powerful and frightening Hades.

This musical was performed beautifully, many well executed parts coming together for a performance worth of the gods. The plot of the musical followed the book precisely, so if you were a fan of the book you would not be disappointed. There were many scenes they acted out in the show that were just like the book. The smallest details such as bean dip, diet coke, dam snack bars, and more were stuffed into the show for diehard fans to enjoy.

My experience at the performance was one of my best memories, something I will hold onto for the years to come. The musical took my breath away, and at the end I was in shock at the art I had just experienced.

I implore you, if you have the ability, go see the show. If you can’t travel to see them, the soundtrack can be found online and is definitely worth the listen. The songs are happy and make you want to dance and sing along with the rest of the demigods. Consider this your very own quest; listen to the musical.

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