Posted on: November 27, 2023 Posted by: Zuzanna Fudala Comments: 0

By Zuzanna Fudala, Staff Writer

What Ho! Heroes be warned there are spoilers lurking about!

As a fan of the Percy Jackson series when I was younger, that still holds a place near and dear to my heart, I had high hopes about seeing ‘The Lightning Thief: the Percy Jackson musical’, long before Moraine Valley put on the production. However, I admit that I had placed my hopes too high and was a bit disappointed. After some consideration, however, my opinion has become more lenient than what I originally thought about the show. 

Of course, I would like to point out that my disappointment is not with the Moraine Valley cast and crew. The actors all played their parts wonderfully, and like with every MV cast production, we have some talented and budding thespians in our midst. I look forward to seeing more from them if they choose to continue auditioning for future productions. I especially liked Shannon Miller and her portrayal of Mrs. Dodds, Eric Wilder-Lindsey as Grover, Dr. Tom Dow (faculty) as Chiron, Paris Ward as Charon, Saniah Johnson and her portrayal of The Oracle, and Hannah VonBruchhaesuer and her portrayal of Clarisse. 

While I would have liked for the set to have included more than just platforms, Greek columns, and some other minor sets such as banners and seats, I understand that the set was based off of the original production. For a school production I think this type of set fits well considering that school productions have more factors to consider than a show featured on Broadway. However, seeing as this was based off of the Broadway show, I expected something more grand on their end.

Since there is so much going on in the Lightning Thief, the scenes change frequently. For example, in Act 1 the scenes change from The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, to Percy’s home, to the beach, Half-Blood Hill, and various places in Camp Half-Blood such as the amphitheater and the big house.

 

Not only that but for musicals, the songs take up a fair share of the show, and if the numbers feature scene changes then that makes things harder. If the show were a play and not a musical there would be some more leeway to feature some scenes instead of condensing them. Perhaps there would be more room for frequent or elaborate scene changes as well. Then again, there is so much going on in the book I can see it being hard to condense everything for a stage.

As for the costumes and props, I would have liked to have seen at least the campers wearing Camp Half blood t-shirts as in the books, but after an interview with the director, Dr. Craig Rosen, I learned that the reason for the lack of CHB shirts was to give each character their own personality. Looking back at it now, I like the idea since in a way it’s a context clue for the audience, especially for those that read the books and can say, “Hey! That’s a child of Aphrodite!” or “That’s a child of Athena!”

Since there is so much going on in the Lightning Thief, the scenes change frequently. For example, in Act 1 the scenes change from The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, to Percy’s home, to the beach, Half-Blood Hill, and various places in Camp Half-Blood such as the amphitheater and the big house.

Not only that but for musicals, the songs take up a fair share of the show, and if the numbers feature scene changes then that makes things harder. If the show were a play and not a musical there would be some more leeway to feature some scenes instead of condensing them. Perhaps there would be more room for frequent or elaborate scene changes as well. Then again, there is so much going on in the book I can see it being hard to condense everything for a stage.

As for the costumes and props, I would have liked to have seen at least the campers wearing Camp Half blood t-shirts as in the books, but after an interview with the director, Dr. Craig Rosen, I learned that the reason for the lack of CHB shirts was to give each character their own personality. Looking back at it now, I like the idea since in a way it’s a context clue for the audience, especially for those that read the books and can say, “Hey! That’s a child of Aphrodite!” or “That’s a child of Athena!”

All in all I think that the Moraine Valley cast and crew did a good job with the production. 

My disappointment mainly stems from the writing and creation of the musical. 

Although the show’s target was originally younger audiences before gaining popularity, I feel that the writing could have been a bit more polished. I think that the playwright Joe Tracz could have done better when writing the show. It just seemed rushed and more of a first draft in some instances.

Aside from that, act one progresses a lot slower than act two, and act two is really condensed  so there are some parts that get bypassed that are important to the flow of the story. It honestly felt like act two was written at the last minute at times. Like with the set and scene changes, I think the show would be better executed if it were a play instead of a musical.

While there were some memorable moments that referenced the book and some funny scenes and jokes that would have been AMAZING to have been featured in the book (such as Percy calling Grover a furry), there were some parts that seemed so blah and others that never happened in the book that had really contributed to my disappointment.

For example, when Percy, Annabeth, and Grover meet the squirrel. I don’t recall them ever meeting and talking with a squirrel, a poodle named Gladiola yes, but not a squirrel which made me confused during that scene. Now only that but when the three meet Aunty M (Medusa) Annabeth is flattered at Aunty M’s statement that she has beautiful eyes and at the request for a picture when in the book, Annabeth is the one that almost immediately senses danger and warns the group that they need to leave Aunty M’s. 

I did love the music, specifically the compositions. I thought they were well written and catchy, although the lyrics for some of the songs did not hit as well as their compositions but were still pretty good, and others were amazing. “Strong” has got to be my favorite and I think it is one of the best songs in this musical. It really shows the dynamic between Percy and his mom and just how much she loves him; “Put You in Your Place”, “The Campfire Song”, “ Good Kid”, and “D.O.A.” all tie for second for me. Rob Rokicki did a really great job overall with the sound track.

I digress, originally I had a lot harsher opinions about The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. However after doing some research and interviews, I suppose it’s not as bad as what I originally thought. Albeit cheesy and kind of B-list, as a production for younger audiences I’d say it fits the bill perfectly. Would I have loved this musical if it came out when I was younger and kept my nose buried in the Percy Jackson series? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt. But, I still think that that there are areas that could have been improved, mainly the writing.