Musical proves to be godly experience for fans
From Thursday, March 28, to Sunday, March 31, “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” tour based on the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, took the stage at the Beacon Theatre, creating an atmosphere mixed with excitement and anxiety. After arguably two of the worst film adaptations of books for both “The Lightning Thief” and “The Sea of Monsters,” the first two books of the five-part series, it is understandable that fans were anxious to see the musical adaptation.
Although it doesn’t directly mimic the first book in the series, the musical holds its own. Some scenes from the book have been altered, but they are still very much in line with the vision and character portrayal developed by author Rick Riordan.
Percy is played by Chris McCarrell, a 28-year-old who is somehow able to portray the attitude and mannerisms of a typical 12-year-old. One major critique made by fans was the casting of Logan Lerman, who was then 18 years old, to play Percy in the movies. Although it is undeniably awkward watching a grown man act 12, McCarrell’s acting skills and vocals allowed him to be successful, while Lerman’s performance fell flat due to a poorly thought-out movie.
As the second act began, it was clear that the musical’s creators embraced the idea of creative licensing. Major components of the first book in the “Percy Jackson” series are the many twists, turns and adventures the heroes endure on their way to the Underworld. The second act spent a short amount of time in Auntie Em’s Gnome Emporium, maybe two seconds at the Lotus Hotel and Casino and absolutely no time in Waterland to get Ares’ shield, all of which were large plot points in the young heroes’ journey west during the book. Rather than using pearls to escape the Underworld, Percy uses a shell from his father, which appeared out of nowhere.
Despite the sped-up pace, which resulted in omitted and changed scenes crucial in the character development of main characters Percy, Grover and Annabeth, there were exaggerations which really made watching the musical a one-of-a-kind experience. The gods were “extra” in every sense of the word. Poseidon was the ultimate surfer dude dressed in his Hawaiian shirt, and Dionysus was over-the-top grouchy and theatrical. The best adaptation of a Greek god was definitely Hades. While expected to be a grim, soulless person, Hades wore a sparkly gold jacket and walked with flair.
The entrance to the Underworld took the disguise of a record shop by the name of “DOA Recording Studios,” which is home to Charon, the gatekeeper for the dead. “The Lightning Thief” perfectly transformed a typical scene into a magnificent concert with Charon being portrayed by a female.
As they travel to the Underworld, Percy, Annabeth and Grover are treated to a song by Charon featuring D.J. Cerberus, which, as Percy aptly says, “slaps.” Instead of feeling like a childish approach to a normal scene, this musical number was more satirical and comedic, feeling similar to songs in the musical “The Book of Mormon.”
Rob Rokicki, the composer and lyricist, was somehow able to bring this very detailed story to life. To fit into two hours, many scenes were condensed into musical numbers. Listening to this music live felt like a rock concert.
While many of the lyrics pertain to struggles that young children may face, like feeling that “if you’re weird, you’re weak,” as sung in the song “Strong,” most of the songs actually relate to real thoughts that go through the mind of young adults. Annabeth sings about the struggles of being taken seriously as a woman in “My Grand Plan,” Dionysus sings about hating his job in “Another Terrible Day” and the three heroes sing about strongly disliking New Jersey in “Lost!”
As some of the older fans may have felt, seeing and hearing Percy Jackson come to life was like being reacquainted with an old friend. While “The Lightning Thief” diverged from the book in some aspects, the book has finally received its redemption since the film adaptation flopped. For two hours, fans old and new were able to step into their favorite book and relive their favorite memories, laugh at the comedic elements unique to the show and rock out to songs about the Greek gods. While the tour has finished its run in New York City, the rest of the tour will be continuing until Sunday, July 14.