First national tour of “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” coming to Tulsa PAC
The Greek gods are real, and they’re coming to Tulsa. The smash hit “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” will be playing at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center on May 31 and June 1 during the first national tour of the show.
“The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” adapts the subject matter of the first book in the popular “Percy Jackson” series, doing so with much more success than the critically derided 2010 film. As the show’s Twitter account puts it: “We’ve got a blonde Annabeth so we’re already ahead of the curve.” The first run of the show in New York sold out and garnered three Drama Desk Award nominations, including Best Musical.
The actors in the show put themselves at risk for the sake of their craft and the audience’s entertainment. Cast member Sam Leicht, who plays the understudy role for both Percy and Luke, the actor detailed in a phone interview some of the unexpected intricacies of the show, like the cast’s use of real weaponry.
“There’s a lot of fighting in the show,” Leicht said. “We use real weapons. There are a lot of cues wherein the show you have to have eye contact or have a signal to use before you can perform the move.”
In fact, the fighting is so integral to the show that the actors have a rehearsal every day. “Stage combat is pretty intricate; we do a slow counted out version and then an in-tempo version,” Leicht said. Everyone has to do their part to make sure the cast stays safe. Leicht described the process of learning the blocking for the show as an understudy. “In rehearsals I was just watching, and during breaks I would practice some of the dance, practice some of the blocking.”
When the tour started, the understudies had their own separate rehearsals, along with swing out performances where understudies would take the stage. On playing understudy to both Luke and Percy, Leicht said, “It’s a little complicated because Percy and Luke fight each other a lot, so I have to know both of the fighting tracks, which can be a little confusing.”
This first national tour of “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is a rare case in which many touring cast members are reprising roles from the New York version of the production, including Chris McCarrell, who originated the role of Percy and sings on the cast recording of the soundtrack. It speaks to Tulsa’s reputation as a cultural hub that the show is choosing to stop here instead of, say, Oklahoma City.
And the fun, while family-friendly, isn’t just for kiddos. Leicht described his first experience with the show like this: “I had the opportunity to see the New York show, and I didn’t know what to expect, whether it would be for kids or for kids at heart.” He went in with an open mind and discovered that “the show absolutely is for kids, but it’s also for adults.”
Because of its similar subject matter, the “Percy Jackson” series has always lived in the shadow of the more successful “Harry Potter” series, but in “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical,” the “Percy Jackson” universe finds its own niche. Sure, there’s a “Harry Potter” stage play, but an acclaimed and anticipated musical? That honor belongs to the son of Poseidon.