Teen Angst and The Lightning Thief


Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Jessica Anthony

Everyone had that series of books growing up. For many, it was Harry Potter, but for me, it was Percy Jackson – and I know I’m not alone in that. It remains one of the bestselling book series of the last decade, and I know that it certainly defined my and many other middle schoolers’ formative years. It captured the middle school essence in a way I have never seen another book series do well since. In a time which, for me, was dictated by which new Fall Out Boy or Panic! At the Disco song I was obsessed with that week, I also binge-read stories about Percy and his friends.

It is this aspect that I would argue made the movies as horrendous as they were, and which makes the new musical adaptation of the books one of my favorite book adaptations of all time, never mind one of my favorite musical scores currently on Broadway. The movie made everyone older and took itself seriously, but the musical currently making its limited New York run goes back to the essence of the books in its self-aware and younger humor.

One of the best ways that the show accomplishes this is through its score. It is a rock-based score that calls on the angsty teenage classics, a sort of diet My Chemical Romance perfect for the misunderstood demigod in all of us. It features power rock vocals not dissimilar to Ann Wilson or Debbie Harry, electric guitar riffs inspired by Metallica, in songs such as “Put You in Your Place” or “Good Kid.”

The musical itself follows the plot of the first installment of the book series, The Lightning Thief, where Percy Jackson’s world is turned upside down after a field trip has gone very, very wrong. Even those not familiar with the book series can find it easy to follow along through electric songs and fantastic world-building that captures what made the books so magical. It is the kind of musical where even friends of mine who have written off theatre entirely can’t help but fall in love with its non-traditional score and cheeky stage presentation. I first managed to see it on its national tour, but it currently resides on Broadway until January 5th. If any readers have ever been interested in getting into theatre, there is no better show to go see than The Lightning Thief.