I always love going to Hot Springs, but this time my Percy Jackson avid son insisted we had to go see THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL with the Hot Springs School District 7-12 Theater Troupe presented in the beautiful Joyce L. Littleton Craft Auditorium, 401 Emory Street, Hot Springs, and I’m so glad we did. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first I’ve heard of this musical being performed in Arkansas, which is super cool. The show was lively, the dancers were great and the music was awesome!
For those unfamiliar with Percy Jackson, he’s a teenage demigod (half god, half human) who is targeted by monsters and other gods because they think he stole the thunderbolt of Zeus. Percy ends up at Camp Half Blood, where he meets other demigods, learns to fight, makes some friends, and goes on a quest to stop the gods from fighting and save his mother. The musical is slightly different from the movie, of course, but the gist is still there.
Directed by Kaitlin Potts, it was great to see this great group of artists intertwine, and they looked like they were having a lot of fun. Setting aside the demigods, I’m sure it wasn’t too much of a stretch to relate to the angsty teenagers, since they’re all teenagers themselves. Kian McMahan was an excellent Percy. It was easy to root for the troubled hero who set out to save the world. Her singing and dancing were great, but her chemistry with her fellow actors is what stood out the most. Whit Long’s Annabeth gave her character a kind of feminine power. However, the character’s price dedication goes to Bryce Cunningham-Nunn for his portrayal of Chiron. I loved the way he trotted around the stage. It was perfect!
The musical contains catchy numbers. Clarisse’s (Danielle Rivera) song “Put You in Your Place” was fun, especially with the toilet paper shooters; I loved it when all the kids got together to sing “The Campfire Song” to discuss the horror of their pious parents; and kudos to Mya Sanders who was the lead singer of “The Oracle” and “DOA” This girl can sing! In addition, there were several numbers where the stage was covered with very talented dancers. Together they all brought the story to life and made you want to be part of the journey.
The music is more modern with instruments leaning more towards rock. I loved that the band was on stage performing with the rest of the cast. Directed by Michael Sandlin on guitar, the high school band also had Ethan Abel on second guitar, Alex King on drums, Abigail Hedrick on piano, and Landon Demaio on bass.
Hot Springs has a thriving program with a huge auditorium. To see what happens next for Hot Springs Thespian Troupe 78, follow them on Facebook.
Photo credit: Aaron Brewer