MadKap Productions’ The Lightning Thief: A Percy Jackson Musical is a fun and energetic take on a favorite, contemporary children’s book!

Photos by Kat Phillips Photography

On the way to the Skokie Theatre to see MadKap Productions The Lightning Thief: A Percy Jackson Musical, book by Joe Tracz and music by Rob Rokicki, my very excited 15 year old son informed me that all “young zoomers love Percy Jackson,” and my 9 year old chimed in that “Gen Alpha’s do too!” I, on the other hand, had some trepidation about the evening’s performance. I had taken my oldest son to see a pre-Broadway production in Chicago about 5 or so years ago and did not enjoy the show. MadKap’s production completely changed my mind- The Lighting Thief is a fantastically fun musical and I’m now officially part of the Percy Jacson fan club!

The musical takes the very popular children’s novel written by Rick Riordan in 2005 and sets the story of half-blood Percy Jackson, to music with a lot of fun, energy and cheesy effects, all of which are embraced by MadKap’s amazing ensemble. What’s a half-blood you ask? A half-blood is a child who has one human parent and one Greek Godly parent and as you may imagine, half-bloods are not like the rest of us. Percy’s story takes them first to one of the coolest summer camps on Long Island where they meet all kinds of unique friends and then on a quest to find Zeus’ lightning bolt and prevent a war between the Gods…which would not be good for us normal mortals.

The ensemble of MadKap’s production was phenomenal. According to Concord Theatricals website casting note, “We…encourage you to look beyond traditional casting “types” when it comes to the characters’ race, gender and physical ability. Above all, the characters in The Lightning Thief are gods and heroes – and gods and heroes can look like any of us.” I love this about this show and loved director Miranda Coble’s casting choices. While Percy (P-Jay Adams), Annabeth (Isha Singh) and Grover (Joey Prette) play the same character throughout, the other six actors of the ensemble play the other many other characters of Percy’s story. Singh and Prette were believable as a youthful half-blood and Satyr and carried the show with their energy. Adams, while having an amazing voice that filled the theater with its power, was a little less convincing as a youthful Percy. There was something lacking in Adam’s acting performance that their vocals didn’t quite make up for. Anna Seibert (Sally Jackson/ensemble), Margaret Higgins (Clarisse/ensemble) and Patty Roache (Chiron/ensemble) were also impressive with their characterizations and songs. However, the person that would make me go back for a second viewing was hands down Zach Moore’s interpretation of Mr. D. The laughter was non-stop during Another Terrible Day and my boys and I have decided we wish we had Moore’s version of the song to listen to rather than the Broadway version! Go see this show just for this performance alone.

One of my initial criticisms of this show from several years ago were several low-budget special effect attempts, which seemed lost in the giant downtown theater as viewed from the balcony. MadKap’s production embraced the campy nature of the show and in the intimate space of the Skokie Theatre, I laughed and appreciated these “low-budget” special effects. Rokicki’s songs are upbeat and catchy. The cast as a whole looked like they were having a lot of fun throughout. Overall, it was a  really fun night and show for all ages of Percy Jackson fans from Gen Z to Gen Alpha and even us old Gen Xers. Be sure to get your ticket to Camp Half Blood soon!

The Lightning Thief: A Percy Jackson Musical is now playing at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave, Skokie, through July 28th. Performance times vary; check the website at Skokie Theatre. Find more information about current plays on our Current Shows page and at theatreinchicago.com.

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