An adventure from New Jersey to L.A. complete with demigods, monsters and epic battles will be staged by Cherry Hill West beginning Thursday.
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson the Musical is based on the book of the same name and its film series. It follows teenager Percy and his friends after he learns he is the son of a Greek god, which sends the group on a quest to find Zeus’ missing lightning bolt and catch the lightning thief.
“The show is a very upbeat production of a ton of friends who are trying to understand what it means to be children,” said Natalie Rappaport, a senior and stage manager for the production. “Children in the sense of having parents, understanding where you fit in that dynamic and how to separate that from being your own individual.
“It’s a lot of trying to make light of otherwise heavy situations in a fantastical world.”
Show director Carolyn Messias noted that The Lightning Thief was chosen by the school because it’s family friendly and relevant: The streamer Disney Plus is planning its own version of author Rick Riordan’s saga.
“I thought it would be a fun thing to do and the kids in elementary school read this book,” Messias explained. “I think our audience really is young families that come to high-school musicals, and I think that is the appeal for this show – it’s something a lot of kids read.”
Messias also loves the music, with its rock ‘n’ and roll feel, and is excited about the show’s choreographed fight sequences and special effects. Tech director Cooper Gorelick acknowledged the challenges of putting on a show adapted from a book rather than written for the stage.
“It’s a lot of different locations that need to be represented very quickly with minimal changes,” Gorelick pointed out. “ … In movies and TV and novels, you can do that very easily. Plays – it’s a little more challenging sometimes, but that’s the fun.’’
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson the Musical is also unique in its double cast, something that hasn’t been done at West since before COVID.
“The people make it what it is, and every production that you watch of the show is very different,” Rappaport said, “because the people playing it are very different, and especially because we have a double casted show this year.
“It’s very very interesting to watch two people make their own versions of a character.”
The student cast known as Poseidon will perform on the show’s opening night Thursday March 16 and Saturday March 18 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 25, at 2 p.m. The Zeus cast will perform on Friday, March 17 and again the following Friday, March 24, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 25, at 7 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/71057.