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Best written reviews for “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” performed by South County High School in Lorton, Virginia. Reviewed on May 12, 2023.

Hannah Moghaddar

Chantilly High School


When a boy-turned-demigod claims that his father supplied his knack for mischief, he means every word. South County High School's production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical highlighted the formative nature of youth and the catharsis of escaping one's secluded bubble. Sit back, toast up your blue marshmallow, and prepare to be "back next summer" for a week of troublemaking on and beyond campgrounds!


Derived from Rick Riordan's first Percy Jackson novel, the theatrical rendition of The Lightning Thief debuted in 2014 through a brilliant collaboration of writing by Joe Tracz and musical composition by Rob Rokicki. At the story's epicenter is twelve-year-old Percy, who miraculously discovers that he is Poseidon's son amidst frustration over a school suspension. Drenched in a downpour of grief and resentment, Percy becomes determined to seize Zeus's lightning bolt to prevent tumult in the mythological realm. Forming an outlandish yet mighty triad with Annabeth, Athena's daughter, and Grover, his best friend, Percy finds a home at Camp Half-Blood and endures a "killer quest" filled with rebellion and reunion.


Stellar performances enlivened the novel's beloved characters while delivering lively twists throughout. Serving as the pinnacle of clashes ranging from devastating losses to jubilant victories, Zach Smith portrayed Percy with unwavering engagement and urgency. Smith's robust tenor voice, which supplied a consistently flawless belt, proved especially impressive in songs serious ("Strong" and "Good Kid") and lighthearted ("Killer Quest!") alike: an emotional range considering Percy's childlike, impulsive nature. Elevating Annabeth's role beyond merely a sidekick, Emmie Caplan channeled ruthless yet cautious notes of the revered character through precisely executed fight choreography, a steadily enthralling high belt during "My Grand Plan," and an assertive posture while interacting with Percy, Grover, and Luke.


Members of the featured ensemble added essential complexity. Particularly engaged in her elaborate choreography, Keira McLaughlin showcased Thalia's grace and docility with smooth yet precise reaches, kicks, and turns. Each of McLaughlin's moves was driven first and foremost by yearning: an evident testament to her cognizance of mythological strife.


In tandem with the actors, technical elements seamlessly juxtaposed reality and the underworld, reinforcing the story's whimsical nature. The collaboration between sound (Leah Lewis and Steven Gigrich) and lighting (Phil Gigrich and Natalie Mitchell) employed clever audio-visual illusions, most notably the simultaneous beeping sound effects and declining white light as an elevator descended into the depths of the underworld. Other immersive moments in which both cues aligned included abrupt bouts of thunder and lightning during the second act and the simulation of the woods during the song "Lost" through a green cyclorama and quiet yet captivating natural soundscapes. Intricately adorned props, such as Percy's winged shoes, road signs, and Vienna Boys Choir puppets, achieved a splendid balance between realism and fantasy, solidifying the storyline while remaining minimalistic enough to avoid interrupting its progression. Wildly distinct period costumes (Kaitlin Luong) during "D.O.A." remained remarkably reminiscent of figures like Amelia Earhart and Elvis Presley. Luong's red wings for Mrs. Dodds proved equally exhilarating to witness, engineered with flexibility and mobility as well as appearance.


As campers packed their bags and said goodbye to newfound lifelong friends, they carried with them a different kind of magic: the willpower to enter worlds beyond their own as a means for empathizing with even the most conniving perspectives. Fierce yet endearing, South County High School's rendition of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical reminded audiences that whether treasured god or common passerby, every person is filled with "grand" plans.

Juliah Perdue

Duke Ellington School of the Arts


"The Gods are Real." Yes, Greek Gods. And their half-blooded children were brought to life at South County High School's production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. 


The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is based on the wildly popular young adult book series by Rick Riordan. The show, with a book by Joe Tracz and music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki, made its New York debut off-Broadway in 2014 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, where it played an extended run and was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards. The musical follows the story of Percy Jackson, a teenager who discovers that he is a demigod, the child of a mortal and a Greek god. With his friends, he embarks on a quest to retrieve Zeus' stolen lightning bolt and grow closer to his human and immortal parents. 


Zack Smith led the production as Percy Jackson with various tactics and expressions. By Smith's side was Grover (Javier Quiroz-Rubi), a satyr sworn to protect and love. Quiroz-Rubi consistently brought fantastic energy and solid vocals to each scene. Emmie Caplan's rendition of Annabeth was spectacular, and her powerhouse vocals in numbers like My Grand Plan bestowed intensity to the production. Zack Smith, Javier Quiroz-Rubi, and Emmie Caplan joined to create a heartwarming group of friends with believable chemistry and comical expertise. 


There were many talented vocalists and actors featured in the production. Included in this list was Clarisse, the daughter of Ares portrayed by Natalie Beasley, who perfected her challenging vocal tasks with endurance and played her fierce character well. Mr. D (Marcus Martinez) executed the show's comedic text so well that the audience could not resist laughing. 


Overall, the show's ensemble brought strong and amusing elements to the production, such as a boys' choir of puppets, smooth transitions, and impeccable timing. One of the show's highlighting factors was its many dances choreographed by students Lilly Bottlick, Keira McLaughlin, Natalie Beasley, Sarah Peckham, Parker Bryant, McKenna Porter, Amaris Stokes, and Meredith Wiegel. The versatile and skillful choreography contributed to the storyline and engaged the audience.


The immersive lighting designed and executed by Leah Lewis, Phil Gigrich, and Natalie Mitchell included many precise and swift cues and creative use of coloring that established the mood and atmosphere for every scene. The lighting designers' innovation was displayed during scenes where flashlights were used to depict symbols, events, and revelations. Students Parker Bryant, Zibby English, Megan Haight, Abby Sharrett, and Kamryn Shuler were included in the phenomenal team of student directors. 


Whether a diehard fan or a newcomer to the series, you will be swept up in the excitement and magic of South County Highschool's Production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.


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