When Zeus’s master lightning bolt is stolen and Percy Jackson becomes the prime suspect, he must find and return it to prove his innocence and prevent a war between the gods. But to succeed on his quest, he must travel to the underworld and back, solve the riddle of the Oracle – which warns him of betrayal by a friend – and come to terms with the father who abandoned him.
That’s the premise of Westfield High’s upcoming show, “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.” Show times are Thursday-Friday, May 4-5, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, May 6, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, students; and $15, adults.
Online ticket reservations at https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/15474/ are strongly encouraged. Tickets at the door may only be purchased by cash or by checks payable to Westfield High School.
Adapted from Rick Riordan’s best-selling book, and featuring an original rock score, the musical has a cast and crew of 50 and is suitable for all ages.
“As soon as it starts, you feel like you jumped on a train that just keeps moving,” said Director Enza Giannone-Hosig. “The quote on our show T-shirts is ‘Normal is a myth.’ Percy doesn’t think he’s normal; he’s impulsive and has ADHD. But his mom tells him to embrace his differences because that’s what makes him special.”
Scenes take place in some 20 locations – mainly at a camp in Long Island, N.Y., and in Los Angeles, New York City and the underworld. Costumes feature early 2000s styles – baggy jeans, bright colors and tie dye – juxtaposed against various mythical creatures.
“Because the actors love this story so much and are so invested in it, they have big dreams for this show,” said Giannone-Hosig. “It’s really high-energy and we’re having fun. The kids are a well-oiled machine, work hard and are so passionate, it’s a joy to be around them. And our show is something the whole family will enjoy.”
Playing Percy, 13, is sophomore Graci Vlattas. “He’s a demigod and the son of Poseidon, but he doesn’t know it at the start,” she explained. “But because of it, he’s attacked by a Greek monster, and attacked again while his mom and friend Grover are there. So his mom sends Percy and Grover to Camp Half Blood, where Percy’s pushed into the world of Greek mythology and learns he’s a demigod with magical powers.”
Vlattas plays him as a sarcastic, temperamental teen who’s also trying to do his best. “It’s fun because I grew up reading all 25 Percy Jackson books in the main series, so I can put myself into the character,” she said. “So that’s why I wanted to play Percy – I’m obsessed with him. And it’s fun switching between all his emotions – oblivious, brave, angsty and a relatable, lovable character.”
One of her favorite songs is “The Weirdest Dream,’ which is mixed with “The Minotaur” number. “It goes from a brutal fight to a funny, dream sequence,” said Vlattas. “It’s so funny and great to perform.”
As for the show, she said audiences will enjoy “the comedy and whimsy of the characters. The story is upbeat and lighthearted and is a fun adventure that’s easy to follow. And it’s such a fun journey – with big plot twists and dance numbers – so even if you’re not familiar with the books, it’ll transport you to a new world that you’ll love.”
Senior Elias Collier portrays Charon, ferryman to the underworld and a struggling singer. “He’s flamboyant, lively and bubbly, with lots of pep,” said Collier. “He prefers to have a singing career, instead of his regular job. He’s friendly, but professional, and enjoys bringing people to the underworld by car and getting paid for it.”
Having fun with his role, Collier said, “I like all his songs and it’s fun making exaggerated motions to play him. And he’s different enough from me, while similar, which makes it easy to get into character.”
“D.O.A.” (dead on arrival), which Collier sings, is his favorite number. “It’s club-like in its choreography and glow-in-the-dark wave lights,” he said. “I wear large, platform shoes – which are fun to dance in – and do my signature move at the end to give it a flourish. It’s also high in my singing range, so I get to challenge myself. And it’s a light and bouncy, pop-type song, in contrast to my other songs, which are darker rock music.”
He said audiences will enjoy themselves because “It’s a silly show – a comedy/action adventure with lots of slapstick humor. People should expect the unexpected.”
Playing Grover, Percy’s best friend, is senior Teresa Seraphin. He’s a satyr – half goat/half human – so, said Seraphin, “I get to do lots of bleating, which is fun. When Grover was younger, he was supposed to protect three other people and failed; and one of them, Thalia, was turned into a tree by her father, Zeus. Grover feels terrible about it and believes that, by succeeding on this quest with Percy, he’ll prove to everybody – especially himself – that he can be the protector he’s supposed to be.”
“Grover’s also silly, so he’s fun to play,” continued Seraphin. “I get to laugh a lot, jump around and wear a costume with furry goat legs, a tie-dye shirt and little horns. And I like performing the song, ‘Drive,’ with Graci Vlattas and Scarlet Anthony. I sing the first verse and chorus, and then they join in. It’s an upbeat, hopeful number before we go on a crazy journey.”
Seraphin also choreographed the show, with help from student Annabelle DuBard. “Our big dance number, ‘D.O.A.,’ was my favorite to choreograph,” said Seraphin. “It has a ’70s disco feel and brings in real-life pop stars who died too soon and lets them party. I’ve been dancing since age 5, and choreographing is a great way for me to express myself artistically. It’s a cool feeling and very rewarding to see it all come together onstage and all my hard work pay off.”
Senior Anna Kaplan portrays Percy’s mother, Sally Jackson. “She’s kind and a young, fun, cool mom who wants what’s best for her son and will do anything to protect him,” said Kaplan. “She’s also giddy and happy-go-lucky. And she believes that being normal is a myth and the things that make you different make you strong. I like that she’s gentle and lovable. She only appears a few times in the show; but when she does, it’s impactful.”
Kaplan especially likes the song, “Strong,” which she sings, with Percy joining in at the end. “It’s pretty and has a nice tempo,” she said. “It also has a good message – don’t be embarrassed to be different from other people. Instead, be proud of it because you’ll then be a stronger person.”
She said audiences will love this show because “It’s a spectacle with lots of cool things to look at, including the special effects and lighting. And the characters are lovable and relatable.”