by Molly Walsh
Olympia Family Theater is wading into the world of demigods, monsters and the central figures of Greek mythology through the production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. The show premieres at Olympia Family Theater October 6 and runs through October 29.
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is full of rock-tinged tunes and is based on the popular book, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. The book has been adapted for the stage by Joe Tracz and the show’s music and lyrics are by Rob Rokicki. Featuring a multigenerational cast, OFT’s production of The Lightning Thief is set to be a show that dazzles the stage with singing, dancing, action and adventure.
The play revolves around the titular character, Percy Jackson, a tween son of Poseidon. As Jackson uncovers his demigod powers, he is also forced on a journey in search of Zeus’ lightning bolt, just as tensions rise between Greek deities. Paired with his friends, Grover Underwood and Annabeth Chase, the trio’s adventure brings them face to face with monsters, gods and other prominent characters of Greek mythology.
The OFT production of The Lightning Thief is directed by Rebecca Rogers, assistant directed by Anya Guadamuz and musically directed by Heather Matthews. The show’s multigenerational cast includes both teen and adult actors. Percy Jackson is played by 15-year-old Chloe Swanson, a student of Timberline High School, while Annabeth Chase is played by Maisy Rutledge, a 15-year-old student from Olympia High School. Grover Underwood is played by Nathan Groome.
“I’m stoked about the multigenerational cast and that so many of them haven’t been with us before,” said Alayna Chamberland, production manager for OFT and stage manager for the OFT production of The Lightning Thief. “And just the like, excitement to bring such a popular book series to…life.”
For fans of the book series, a fresh inclusion to the classic action-adventure storyline, is the production’s rock-based soundtrack. Chamberland describes the musical as an overall faithful adaptation of the book, with the welcome addition of a rockin’ score as well as enthusiastic choreography from Vanessa Postil.
“It’s like a rock musical…like a rock opera, I would say,” said Chamberland. “It is like, very jammin’ but then with some, like really sweet, somber songs in it that like we are crying at rehearsals. So, I can’t wait for an audience to get in there.”
The rehearsal process for The Lightning Thief has been a fun whirlwind according to Chamberland, especially as many members of the show’s cast are first time actors for OFT. The cast and crew are enjoying the last days of rehearsal, while also developing an onstage rapport with the show’s live band. In addition to playing the production’s soundtrack, the band will also interact with the cast and provide additional sound effects during the show’s run. Chamberland has enjoyed the rehearsal process so far, supporting the progress of the stage production. Knowing the musical is based on a beloved book series, the cast and crew have been especially motivated to put on a quality and energetic production.
“Many people have read the books and … it holds a special place in their heart,” said Chamberland. “And so they really want to do it justice.”
To complement the show’s musical numbers, the production will feature extensive choreography, both for dance and battle sequences. Chamberland said this will be especially highlighted during songs like “DOA,” a disco-inspired number that will combine multi-layered acting and dance choreography. OFT is also working hard to have stunning visuals across the board, including complete and convincing costumes for the show’s mythical characters.
With a mission of producing entertaining, accessible family-friendly theater shows, OFT’s production of The Lightning Thief is primarily geared toward audience members of elementary school age (age 8) or older. Chamberland said parental guidance is recommended for some of the show’s themes including family loss, and some of the show’s louder action sequences. The production is suitable for those who are already fans of the Percy Jackson book series and those who are completely new to the franchise.
Leading up to the show’s opening night on October 6, Chamberland is looking forward to seeing the play performed in front of an audience. With choreography, costuming and props in place, the cast and crew are preparing to give a memorable performance and fill the theater with laughter from the crowd.
“I personally am so excited to get an audience in here,” said Chamberland. “Because there is going to be lots of…laughing and reacting. The script is hilarious, and they’re doing so well with their comedic timing and these like, ridiculous oversized silly props…getting bodies in the seats is really going to bring it to life.”
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical at the Olympia Family Theater
7 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, October 6-29
Olympia Family Theater
612 4th Avenue East, Downtown Olympia
Tickets start at $5, prices are on a sliding scale