Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s drama department performed “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” as a musical, based off of the popular fiction series “Percy Jackson” on April 25 and April 26. The musical brought in not only high school viewers but also, children from the surrounding elementary and middle schools, along with their parents.
“It’s really fun, but it is really scary at times, just because you know there are hardcore fans,” Director Jared Block said. “It’s scary because you could totally not misinterpret the show, but misrepresent key moments and really important characters if you don’t focus on those moments.”
In the weeks leading up to the musical, the production stage manager, Alexandra Duffy, and the rest of the cast worked on stage placement.
“All of a sudden we realized we had a couple of weeks until the show,” Duffy said. “So, we started running the show, and we have a music teacher come in and help us play piano for the songs so we know how they go when we have our live band here.”
Senior Alexander Athanasiou played the part of Percy Jackson and brought the key elements of the character to life on stage.
“Playing a role as big as Percy Jackson is both exciting and terrifying,” Athanasiou said. “It’s been a dream role of mine since middle school when I read the books and wanted to be a half-blood too.”
In the musical, Jackson discovers that he is a demigod, a person who is half-human and half-god, and he begins the search for his identity and Zeus’ missing lightning bolt, after being accused of having it. He is joined by his new friend, and fellow “half-blood,” Annabeth Chase, played by senior Isabela Barry, and magical satyr guardian, Grover, played by junior Tanzil Philip.
Two of the three directors, junior Andrea Peña, who played Clarisse, and Philip, also had prominent roles in the musical. Many members of the drama department were part of the cast and the production team.
Due to copyright restrictions, only certain plays and musicals are available for schools to perform under a licensing agreement, which the school has to pay for. Normally, popular modern series, such as Percy Jackson, are not available for licensing. MSD Drama was given special permission to perform the musical at a $0 cost, and a special concert version was written specifically for MSD. MSD’s version was shorter and contained additional narration from the “campers,” or rather, side characters.
“So what happened is the original writers of the show contacted Herzfeld after the shooting, and they were like ‘hey you want to do it?’” junior Sophia Cichetti said. “They wrote a special concert version just for us because they already knew we were doing a children’s show.”
After the final bows and closing of the musical itself, there were several speeches about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, in a similar fashion of actual Broadway shows. The drama department also made bonnets based on the show and had an auction. As the audience started to depart on closing night, there was a special, surprise promposal for senior Ariana Lopez from senior Jonah Bryson. The cast welcomed the audience with a meet and greet afterward.
“Percy Jackson was one of my personal favorite musicals performed here at Douglas,” sophomore Alexander Denisov said. “I love how they pulled me into the action as if I was on stage with them. The acting and singing were incredible and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
“The Lightning Thief” was the final MSD Drama performance of the 2018-2019 school year and the last high school performance for the senior actors.
This story was originally published in the May 2019 Eagle Eye print edition.