GREEK GODS BRING SOME EYE POPPING HI TECH BATTLES AND POP ROCK TUNES THAT WILL MAKE YOU A HALFBLOOD
Percy Jackson has arrived in San Jose, the famous demigod half blood from the best selling Rick Riordan series hits the stage in this Bay Area premiere. THE LIGHTING THIEF comes to San Jose Broadway Center for the Arts for only 5 performances through this weekend and must close May 12th. THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL has a Drama Desk nominated book by Joe Tracz, music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki, and is directed by Stephen Brackett with choreography by Patrick McCollum, and orchestrations by Wiley Deweese and Rob Rokicki. The bright cast of seven is colorful and diverse; the story is set in the present time and the opening number “The Day I Got Expelled” is a pop punk classic that will remind you of American Idiot and Rocky Horror.
General Manager of Broadway San Jose Gretchen Feyer is delighted to present the Bay Area premiere of this new musical. “The Percy Jackson Musical has become a global phenomenon since the book was published in 2005 - we hope this show for all ages will inspire you to find your inner strength” says Feyer. The pop rock musical follows young Percy Jackson, who also discovers that his dad is not a deadbeat; he is actually Poseidon, the god of the sea. This makes Percy a demigod who is half mortal, half god and attractive to monsters. Percy is led to “Camp Half Blood”, a haven for other kids like him, where he is sent on a quest by Zeus. The god of the sky is under the impression that Percy has stolen his magical lightning bolt. Percy is tasked with finding the magic bolt and clearing his name.
Feeling his way through his growing identity and powers, Percy Jackson is played by the terrific Chris McCarrell. He has the perfect anxed pop voice, his number “The Minotaur/ The Weirdest Dream” with the sharp cast is full of teen angst. Down front these are not your predictable millennials, but a group of generation Z youth ready to deal with the hi tech era of half bloods, gods and monsters. The fun Jorrel Javier plays Percy’s best pal who is fighting not becoming a “furry’ he sings “Killer Quest” and spins to the adult villian in a flash and blasts the “Another Terrible Day” as the very moody Mr D.
Percy who is classic nerd, full of twitches, stutters, and a stammer, classic dyslexia, McCarrell synced well with Percy’s teen boy self doubt. Add those physical quirks with an excellent sense of delivery, timing, and some pretty serious angst belts and this adolescent rock musical took off at the speed of lightning. Besides reminding me of some classic Green Day tunes, Heathers The Musical, and Rent; the number “The Campfire Song” will pump you full of pop fun. There is no better example of this than McCarrell’s anxed song “Good Kid” where McCarrell’s performance was classic emo as it was a “Dear Evan Hansen” reference.
Percy’s quest takes him to the Underworld all the way in Los Angeles, where he, Grover and Annabeth, played by the powerhouse Kristin Stokes who must work together to defeat and outwit The monsters. Ares, the god of death himself is staged with a giant puppet that caused some of the kids in the busy opening night crowd to gasp. They sing “You Know” and create the adventure that will sweep you out of your seat. The big voice of bass Ryan Knowels begins his story in a wheelchair that will bring Rocky Horror narrative to mind, but his huge voice and 6 foot 6 height steal the show. Later he sings “The Campfire Song”. THE LIGHTING THIEF is a fun primer of the Greek gods that encourages further fun completely to delighted the young audience at Friday nights performance, they love the story and inside jokes with cheers and constant applause.
Balancing out Percy in battle strategy on one side and overall fear on the other, the terrific cast including Izzy Figueroa, Sam Leight, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, James Hayden Rodriguez, T Shyvonne Stewart and the gifted Jalynn Steel as Percy's Mom. They all band together to fight the demons of this world without bouncing into a Harry Potter banter. Grappling with questions of identity, worth, and strength, each found a way to forge ahead for the sake of the others and in doing so emerged stronger. “Killer Quest” with the company closes the first act as the teens gather together to fight evil and have Percy’s back
Stokes as Annabeth in the show stopping song “My Grand Plan” that opens the second act. There are many great examples of character solidifying songs in this show, this one allowed Stokes to really twist home the confusion that comes with growing up as a girl, paired with beautifully pleading vocals. The cast is strong and all play many roles that will keep you guessing. Knowles as Chiron, Hades, and Medusa was a scene stealer every time he stepped, wheeled, or galloped on stage. His remarkable range of intricately layered personas were fun to watch and were always perfectly balanced on the edge of camp and kept the kids in the opening night crowd cheering him on.
Jalynn Steele as Sally, the oracle, and Charon had touching, deep and awesome vocals in the catchy punk pop songs. The number “D.O.A” was filled with swagger and power, while “Strong” was as nostalgic as marshmallows and campfire memories. James Hayden Rodriguez as Luke amp up the turmoil as the over the top story went into hyper mode, in the number “The Last Day of Summer” and as Ares, Rodriguez was a solid god of war. Pfeifer as Fury and Clarisse was an angry combination of feisty and satire bringing electric rock screams in “Put You In Your Place”.
Backing up the impressive cast is a solid production team. The hyper direction by Stephen Brackett is a fast forward romp and two hours of eye candy effects. Award-winning Sound Design by Ryan Rumery brought the thunder of this rock musical. As you enter the theatre to find your seat the thunder is pounding. The scenic design by Lee Savage perfectly framed this epic hero’s adventure is more than a comic book - the set is simple and sparse but the rails of rock lights bring the jazzed cast down stage. The band is perched on both sides of the two level set. Lighting Design by David Lander cleverly creates a concert-like feel and eye popping colors flair and add some hi tech magic. Lander keeps that “Bolt” lit whenever is flows in the story. The use of light and fog in the fight scenes keep this show full of non-stop action. The high flying choreography by Patrick McCollum is as good as any Avengers movie. The inventive puppets by Achesonwalsh Studios bring a fantasy godly world to the San Jose Stage and you don’t want to miss the “bolts” of spellbinding monsters.
The traditional ideas of Greek mythology become heroes in this kick Rock Musical. THE LIGHTING THIEF challenges its book fans and audiences who are lucky enough to take this wild ride will have the best time. A full throttle adventure THE LIGHTING THIEF is the kind of musical that makes you want to be a kid and connect with the need for adventure and belonging inside us all. Next up at BSJ is a new production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF that opens May 21, and this summer WICKED flys into San Jose August 14th. But in the meantime you just have 4 more opportunities to see this eye popping pop rock musical - it closes Sunday May 12th.
SAN JOSE’S CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS PRESENTS
THE LIGHTNING THIEF:
THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL
Book by Joe Tracz, Music and Lyrics by Rob Rokicki
Directed by Stephen Brackett
Choreography by Patrick McCollum, and
Orchestrations by Wiley Deweese and Rob Rokicki.
FIVE PERFORMANCES ONLY!
MUST CLOSE MAY 12, 2019
Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission
Center for the Performing Arts
255 S. Almaden Blvd.
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel
THE GOOD KID