Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: The Lightning Thief Musical - Theatreworks USA

The Lightning Thief
Theatreworks USA
Based on: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Genre: Musical, Action, Comedy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: So perfect

I first found out about Theatreworks USA's adaptation of The Lightning Thief around May through a Syracuse Drama page since not one but TWO Syracuse University alumni are in the show! Orange Mafia forever!!! Anyway, as soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to go - there was absolutely no doubt in my mind. A Percy Jackson musical?! I was sold. And so I waited several months until I finally got to see the show last Thursday!

Theatreworks USA's production of The Lightning Thief is part of their Free Summer Theatre campaign, designed to allow children to experience theatre for free! The way it works is that the general public can go to the theatre before the show to get free tickets. It's as simple as that! (For more ticketing information, check out the website link above.) Since tickets are distributed starting an hour before the first show, I went to the theater about two hours before the show. The venue, Lucille Lortel Theatre, is conveniently located a block away from the Christopher St PATH station in Downtown New York City and it was super easy to get to. I also had absolutely no problem getting tickets (I was first in line) and I even got front row tickets!

After anxiously awaiting the start of the show, I was pleasantly surprised by the pre-show announcement. At most theaters, there is an announcement prior to the start of the show asking that guests silence their cell phones, refrain from photography, etc. Imagine my surprise when I got an announcement from none other than Mr. D warning the audience that monsters are attracted to cell phones and noisy children. At that moment, I knew the show would absolutely capture the spirit of the book.

After that, I continued to have so much fun watching the show. There are six actors in the show who take on all the different roles and you could tell that they were all having a great time as well. It's such a fun, high energy show from the opening song all the way to the closing. I couldn't help laughing non-stop because it was so funny! The feeling of the show actually reminded me a bit of A Very Potter Musical.

I'm going to apologize in advance for the next part of my review because as a Theatre Design major, I couldn't help but include my thoughts on the design.

The set of the musical was pretty minimalistic but the way it transformed throughout the show was really cool. The main part of the set is a few columns in the back with scaffolding, designed to look like the museum that Percy visits in the beginning of the book. The scaffolding was really cool because it had a bunch of notches for the actors to climb up and down, and it was also low enough that they could easily jump down. I also really enjoyed the way the props were done! My favorite aspect was the way they made the water shoot out when Percy used his powers. While one might think it would have been something literal like a water gun, it was much more genius than that!

The costumes were great as well! I thought the costume designer did a great job with implying the mystical characters in a way that was quick for the actors to change into. For example, Mrs. Dodds was easily transformed into a fury by pulling her sweater over her head to reveal a scary face on the inside and the other actors bringing her wings. Some other great costumes were Grover as a satyr with fuzzy legs, Chiron as a centaur with a cool tail and built out foam leg muscles, and, my favorite, the Oracle!

In addition to the set scaffolding having notches for the actors to climb on, it also had strips of light down the front. The way the strips lit up added a very mystical feeling to many of the scenes. I also really liked the way small, portable lights were used to create other aspects on stage, such as motorcycle lights.

Overall, everything about the show was incredible! While the movie adaptation strayed a lot from the book, I felt the musical was as true to the book as an hour long musical could be. There were a bunch of kids at the show and they all loved it - even my mother, who has never read the books and has only ever seen the movie, loved it! I highly recommend seeing this show if you live close enough to New York City. Don't miss out! Go see it before it closes on August 22nd (Full schedule here). Otherwise, check out information on how to get The Lightning Thief National Tour to come to your area here!

- Kiersten

What book would you love to see as a musical?
Let us know in the comments!

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