Fans of Rick Riordan’s book The Lightning Thief will be delighted with Silhouette Stages’ The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, playing at Slayton House Theater through October 23. The musical, which is adapted from the book and originally commissioned, created, and produced Off-Broadway by TheaterWorks USA, is directed here by TJ Lukacsina as a slightly edgy yet still sweet story of a boy who finds out he’s actually a demi-god, known as a “half-blood.”
The Lightning Thief is full of catchy rock n’ roll music, starting with the opening number, “The Day I Got Expelled.” The middle school–style angst is evident right away. Reid Murphy as Percy perfectly captures a frustrated kid who’s sweet, but annoyed at, well, everything. We learn that Percy is living with his single mom and smelly stepfather in “Strong,” where one phrase from the lyrics sets up a key message for the rest of the musical: being normal is a myth. Murphy’s Percy connects with the audience and is delightful to watch throughout the musical.
The plot is fast-paced, and the audience is quickly treated to Percy’s first interaction with a mythical creature (a Minotaur) and his arrival at Camp Half Blood, a safe haven for the result of gods and humans, shall we say, intermingling. Ethan Kintsler gave a strong performance as Mr. D (as well as other characters like the aforementioned malodorous stepfather), who is a cranky and dismissive Dionysis begrudgingly serving as the camp’s director.
A strength of the show is the supporting cast members who play multiple memorable roles. Julia L. Williams is a villainess extraordinaire as Clarisse La Rue (daughter of Ares, god of War), Medusa, and Ms. Dobbs, the math teacher who is actually a Fury in disguise. Otega Okurume’s facial expressions and stage presence endeared him to me as Luke, Percy’s counselor. And every time Imani Corbin was on the stage, her dance talent, which stood out among the cast, caught my attention. Cheryl Campo commanded the stage as Sally, Percy’s mom, but also as the Oracle and Charon. As Mr. Brunner and Poseidon, Christopher Kabara provided a plethora of comic relief among the overflowing emotion from the tweens and teens.
Other highlights from the first act included “The Campfire Song,” a cozy tune where we see the camaraderie among the campers as they commiserate about their trials and tribulations as often-neglected children of gods, and the brief but well-executed “The Oracle.” Hats off to Costume Designer Deana Cruz-Conner for creating a clever and mesmerizing experience for the audience during that number!
After intermission, the musical focuses on the quest itself, and again the pacing and energy pack a solid punch, but we do get some slower ballads as well. In “My Grand Plan,” which I thought was one of the best songs in the musical, Leah Freeman as Annabeth stood out with her hauntingly beautiful vocals. “Drive” has an almost Mumford and Sons–esque quality to it, and the conflict is made more complex by Percy’s best friend and protector Grover, played by the charmingly earnest Nick Thompson, sharing an emotional flashback in “The Tree on the Hill.”
The second act also takes us on a wacky journey through the woods in New Jersey, to Vegas, to a Los Angeles record company headquarters, which serves as the entrance to the underworld, and to Hades’ lair itself. All of this with hefty doses of humor and lightheartedness to keep things enjoyable and mostly age-appropriate for the upper-elementary through high school set.
As Director TJ Lukacsina tells us in the playbill’s Director’s Note, “…gods and heroes can look like any of us.” This production, with its diverse and talented actors, a main character who is explicitly neurodiverse (Percy has ADHD and dyslexia), rock n’ roll music, and engaging plot, is a must-see for fans of the book, and I imagine even those who have not read it will thoroughly enjoy it, too.
Running Time: Two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical plays Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm through October 23, 2022, presented by Silhouette Stages performing at Slayton House Theater at Wilde Lake Village Center, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, MD. Tickets ($24/adults, $20/students/military/educators, $15/children 0-12 ) can be purchased online.
COVID Safety: Proof of full vaccination is required and masks must be worn at all times inside the building. Silhouette Stages’ full COVID-19 Safety Plan is here.
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical The Lightning Thief
Book by Joe Tracz
Music and Lyrics by Rob Rokicki
Percy Jackson – Reid Murphy
Annabeth Chase – Leah Freeman
Grover the Satyr – Nick Thompson
Luke Castellan – Otega Okurume
Sally Jackson – Cheryl Campo
Mr. Brunner – Christopher Kabara
Clarisse La Rue – Julia L. Williams
Katie Gardner – Imani Corbin
Mr. D. – Ethan Kinstler
Director – TJ Lukacsina
Assistant Director – MarQuis Fair
Music Directors – Ginny Moses & Carolyn Freel
Choreographer – Rikki Howie
Stage Manager – Rebecca Hanauer
Assistant Stage Manager – Tyler Hart
Fight Choreographer – Russell Rinker
Costume Designer – Deana Cruz-Conner
Properties Designer – Jessie Krupkin
Set Designer – Stephen Foreman
Sound Designers – Ethan Hogarty and PJ Jani
Sound Effects – Brent Tomchik
Projection Design – Amy and Richard Atha-Nicholls
Production Photographer – Ana Johns