New musical of The Lightning Thief to open in New York, bringing tales from Greek mythology alive

Performing in ‘superhero, demi-god shows’ off-Broadway is the realisation of a boyhood dream for rising stage star Chris McCarrell, who is relishing his role as Percy Jackson in modern-day adaptation of Greek myths

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 5:33pm

A new musical version of the popular young adult fiction book The Lightning Thief featuring rising stage star Chris McCarrell will be hoping to steal hearts in New York this spring.

McCarrell, who played Marius in the recent Broadway revival of Les Miserables, as well as Nibs in Peter Pan Live! will play Percy Jackson, a modern-day teenager who finds himself on a quest to find Zeus’ lightning bolt, in the film.

“It’s really going to push the envelope of [the] magic of theatre. The world is so epic and it is so grand and it doesn’t seem like you could portray that onstage, but that’s really where the magic of theatre comes in,” says McCarrell.

The musical, written by Joe Tracz (who wrote Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) and Rob Rokicki (who wrote the musical Strange Tails), will play at the Lucille Lortel Theatre starting in March.

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The Lightning Thief, written by Rick Riordan, has already spawned a film franchise and a graphic-novel adaptation. In 2014, it was turned into a one-hour musical by Theatreworks USA, but this new version runs into two acts, has a larger cast and will have a live band onstage.

The work, which adapts the stories of Greek mythology for a contemporary setting, is rich material for any actor, and McCarrell is relishing all the twists and turns facing him.

“When musicals are written for the sake of musicals, sometimes the world isn’t fleshed out completely,” he says. “So I really enjoy when behind that two-hour world there is this universe of hours of reading and hours of characters and movies and books and series. I always love when there’s a universe behind the musical.”

McCarrell didn’t have time to read the book when he found out there would be auditions for the show the next day. He got the job the same day and immediately jumped into the world of Percy Jackson.

“It’s going to be so crazy to get this guy to come out of me because there’s so much of him already there,” he says. “This story has so much gunpowder in it. If we hit it right, I think it could make some explosions happen.”

McCarrell, a 2013 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University’s music theatre programme, says he always hoped for a career onstage in the world of off-Broadway.

When he came to New York, he just happened to start with a meaty Broadway role – Marius in Les Miz.

“My dream was always to be an off-Broadway actor that would sometimes get snatched up by Broadway. But I always wanted the backbone of my career to be off-Broadway,” he says.

“This is what I grew up dreaming about – doing superhero, demi-god shows off-Broadway down in the West Village.”