NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new musical that just opened on Broadway promises to enlighten kids and their parents.
“The Lightning Thief” is popular with teens, but there’s a message for everyone, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports.
In the show, Percy Jackson is on the mission to save the world and in the process, he unearths some dark secrets about himself.
The musical is based on the popular children’s book series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Chris McCarrell stars as Percy.
“I mean, this is my younger self’s theater dream coming true. I’ve always wanted to be in the trenches when it comes to new works and shows that I believe in coming to their truest potential,” he said.
Percy gets kicked out of school, lands at Camp Half-Blood and finds out he’s the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. But he’s not alone. He meets a new group of like-minded campers.
“I think Percy Jackson represents a lot of things to a lot of different people. But for me, it’s a boy who is in an environment that isn’t tailored for his skill set,” McCarrell said.
Actress Kristin Stokes portrays Annabeth.
“I’m a demigoddess and my mother is Athena, and I kind of attribute all those qualities. She’s smart, she’s brave, she’s very straightforward. She helps Percy along with his quest,” Stokes said.
In the books, the gods live on Mount Olympus, which is the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. CBS2 interviewed the cast and creative team on the observation deck of the iconic New York City landmark.
Jorrel Javier plays Grover and Mr. D in the show.
“It’s been an incredible experience for me. I’ve been a massive fan of the books ever since I was in middle school, so for me, it’s kind of been this full circle moment where I’ve lived in this world for the past, like, 10 years or so. And so to be able to do it eight times a week is really, really magical for me,” he said.
Percy and his friends, who are the daughters and sons of gods and goddesses, conquer demons and monsters after Percy is falsely accused of stealing a lightning bolt.
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Getting to Broadway has been a road trip for the musical’s creative team.
“It first toured as a one-act version across the country, and then we developed it into a two-act, which also had a national tour,” director Stephen Brackett said. “It’s just such a reward to open our doors to the biggest theater audience in America.”
Brackett says social media has helped them along the way.
“Social media is a big part of the world now, right? And we knew early on that social media would be a real ally to find our audience. And I have to say, a lot of our audience has talked about the show and have conversations about the show through social media. So it felt like a really important aspect of the show for us to tap into. And so, we’re encouraging lively debate and conversation about the show while kind of [using it to] feed them access to the behind-the-scenes and giving them glimpses into our lives of creating,” he said.
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Composer and lyricist Rob Rokicki says he turned to rock music and instruments to create the score for the musical’s “angsty” teenage characters.
“Well for me, form always, you know, dictates function. So in this case, you know, a lot of rock music is really helpful for a lot of angsty teenagers. And that is a really great way of getting story in large sequences done, as well, in kind of a verse, chorus structure. I wrote a lot on different instruments depending on the character I was writing for,” Rokicki said. “So, Annabeth is very smart, I would write kind of note-y, computer-like things on a piano. Percy is very angsty, I would turn to an electric guitar, and I hope that the audience feels the kind of surge of like ‘urrgghhh’ of that electric guitar, of that angst comes through. So that’s kind of where I would start from, always from character, situation and story.”
Stokes says the story is relatable.
“Whether you’re a child or an adolescent or a parent or a Greek god or a demigoddess, you know, I think the moral of the story is you have to take responsibility for yourself,” she said.
“These are kids from broken homes, without much means, that are using what they have to fight monsters in the real world too, right? And I think that message resonates with a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds,” Rokicki said.
“The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” runs through Jan. 5 at the Longacre Theatre.