Follow TV Tropes


Theatre / The Lightning Thief
aka: Percy Jackson And The Olympians

Go To

"Yeah, the Gods are real, and they have kids, and those kids have issues! Issues!"
All, "Prologue/The Day I Got Expelled"

The Lightning Thief is a rock musical adaptation of the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It follows the basic plot of the original book: a somewhat unfortunate young man by the name of Percy Jackson discovers that he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon and becomes mired in a growing conflict between his godly relatives.

The musical was originally pitched by Theatreworks USA. A cast album featuring the off-Broadway cast was released in 2017, then re-released with several cut songs performed by the Broadway cast. It began touring nationally in 2019 and was granted a limited Broadway run later that year. A second national tour was planned for 2020, but was canceled due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. A UK production premiered in 2022.


The Lightning Thief contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The gods, for being negligent. Gabe's abuse of Sally and Percy is also implied, though not as heavily as in the source material.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The fast-paced, upbeat show pauses during "The Tree On the Hill", a solemn ballad in which Grover tearfully confesses what happened to Thalia while Percy listens, uncharacteristically quiet.
  • Actor Allusion: George Salazar plays the main character's best friend and has a tearjerking song about their past relationship with a character. Michael, is that you?
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Silena Beauregard appears and even gets to do some singing with the cast. She didn't appear until the second book and had no real relevant scenes until the third.
    • It is also heavily implied that the trio run into Bianca DiAngelo when they are at the Lotus Casino.
  • Adaptation Distillation: There are some things simplified or skipped over:
    • Many of the side encounters along the quest, such as Crusty (Procrustes) and his water beds, are skipped over.
    • The subplot of Percy being a fugitive is cut.
    • Advertisement:
    • Percy, Annabeth, and Grover escape from the Underworld by a portal, not by floating bubbles.
    • They also don't have to retrieve a shield for Ares from Waterland.
    • Annabeth immediately makes the connection between the Lotus Hotel and the Lotus-Eaters from The Odyssey.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Has its own page, although only one instance from the musical itself makes it in (and one shared with the film, at that), specifically Percy successfully using the winged shoes despite it being a spectacular way to piss off Zeus.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The campers bitterness over their godly parent's Parental Neglect is much more apparent in the musical.
    • Percy is much more angsty in general, lamenting his inability to do well in school in multiple songs along with feeling bad about how his mom had to take care of him by herself.
    • This may have something to do with the Vague Age of characters in the adaptation - while Percy and Annabeth are definitely preteens in the original novel, the musical traditionally casts adult or young adult actors in the camper roles, allowing for them to be interpreted as a bit older.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Beckendorf is apparently cheating on Silena with a nymph during "Another Terrible Day", even though in the books he does no such thing. (Though it was Dionysus who said this, so...)
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Ares offers Percy, Annabeth, and Grover a ride on his motorcycle instead of forcing them to retrieve his shield in exchange for transportation.
  • Adaptational Villainy: A downplayed example in Hades. In the book, he says that he doesn't want a war between the gods because he has enough souls to take care of and it's more trouble than it's worth. In the musical, he still didn't steal the bolt, but he wants Percy to give it to him anyway, so he can start a war between his brothers. His reason? A war will make a bunch of new souls go down to the Underworld, and he gets lonely.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations
  • And the Adventure Continues: Despite there being no sequel musicals currently in the works, most of the material relating to Kronos and Luke's hopes of a demigod revolution is left in. The show manages to spin this optimistically by emphasizing Percy's awareness and acceptance of the fact that he's "never going to once have it easy", framing the Big Bad as just another storm for him to weather. Instead of ending on Annabeth and Chiron's unsettled response to the betrayal, the musical skims over Percy's recovery from the poison and depicts the campers as a united front, inspired by their recent victory and ready to keep fighting.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Put you/them in your/their place" for villainous/antagonistic characters.
    • "The real world" for the show as a whole.
  • Big "NO!": Percy after Sally is throttled by the Minotaur (though some productions have the line performed as a half-whimpered Little "No").
  • Black Comedy Burst:
    • "DOA" has this trope written all over it.
      Charon: (gleefully) It's the Vienna boys choir. They crashed their bus on the way to sing for the Vatican.
      Percy: (aghast) They're kids!
      Charon: They're lucky! Their voices will never change now.
    • In "The Campfire Song", as the half-bloods one-up each other with stories of how comically terrible their parents are:
      Percy: Chiron, who's your dad?
      Chiron: My father is Kronos. (Beat) Remember my lecture? He ate his children.
      Percy, Annabeth, Katie, Grover, Silena: (uncomfortable silence)
      Luke: Chiron wins!
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Percy imitates his dad's surfer dialect while trying to figure out the significance of the seashell, complete with faux-rocker hand gestures.
  • Campfire Character Exploration: The demigods complain about their godly parents around a campfire in "The Campfire Song".
  • Cerebus Call-Back: Luke expresses his bitterness over the gods abandoning them in "The Last Day of Summer", in sharp contrast to his light-hearted complaining in "The Campfire Song" earlier, when he goes from singing "I met the guy once, and once was enough" to "They won't bother to show their face / It's time to make the world our own / Time someone put them in their place."
  • Composite Character: A relatively minor one. Because much of the Arch incident that led to Percy getting the portal pearls from a nereid was cut, Poseidon instead gives him a seashell directly.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • Luke does a reprise of "Good Kid" in "The Last Day of Summer".
    • Similarly, Ares briefly reprises "Put You in Your Place" during his climactic battle with Percy. There is an even briefer and more restrained (but somehow more menacing) reprise of the song during Luke's Motive Rant in "The Last Day of Summer".
    • "The Weirdest Dream", a relatively light-hearted song, is reprised as Percy glimpses Kronos for the first time.
  • Descent into Darkness Song: "The Last Day of Summer" as Luke reveals his plan to bring back Kronos and overthrow their godly parents.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Bianca di Angelo appears in "Drive" in the Lotus Hotel despite not showing up until The Titan's Curse in the books.
  • Establishing Character Moment: "Another Terrible Day" serves as one for Mr. D.
    Mr. D: Another terrible day at Camp Half-Blood, where everything's the worst! Another terrible day! You can hate it here, BUT I HATED IT FIRST! Just another terrible day, stuck here with these runts in the muck and mud. Another terrible day! Oooooh gods! ..... I need a drink. Enjoy your stay at Camp Half-Blood.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: True to the literary depiction, Kronos' voice is rendered as a theater-shaking basso rumble.
  • Evil Laugh: Kronos gives a classic (but still creepy) example when he spots Percy spying on his conversation with the thief.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Pick a Side", while Clarisse and Silena are egging on the campers to pick sides in the upcoming war, Luke states he'd never help his father and neither should the rest. In the moment, it just comes off as 1) Luke's being the Only Sane Man and trying to keep things calm and 2) bitter towards his dad. In hindsight, Luke's subtly trying to turn the rest of camp against the Gods.
  • Gender Flip: Charon, due to being double-cast with Sally Jackson.
  • Granola Girl: Parodied with Katie Gardner, daughter of Demeter.
    Mr. D: You don't have flying lessons on Thursdays, you have archery.
    Katie: Those arrows are made of wood. Wood comes from trees. I refuse to participate in any activity that encourages the senseless slaughter of our arboreal friends!
  • Headbutt of Love: Percy and Sally are prone to this.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "Son of Poseidon" for Percy, as it signifies him taking full control of his powers and accepting his role in the story, thus concluding his character arc.
  • "I Want" Song: "My Grand Plan" and "Good Kid".
  • Jerkass Gods: "The Campfire Song" features the entirety of Camp Half-Blood lamenting that all their parents are assholes.
    Campers: Oh, things couldn't be worse / When your parents run the universe!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • After almost half the show, Percy initially refuses to sing in "The Campfire Song" because....
      Percy: If I try to sing, it'll probably cause an avalanche.
    • An even more blatant (and hilarious) one from "Another Terrible Day":
      Dionysus: [The master bolt] isn't some tinfoil zig-zag from a travelling musical!
  • Leitmotif:
    • The most prominent one is Percy's Recurring Riff from "Good Kid" and "Son of Poseidon", which is echoed in the guitar that opens the show.
    • Luke has an interesting version. Despite singing in several songs, he never seems to have a melody of his own. He's always singing someone else's. Until "The Last Day of Summer" reveals that he shares Percy's motif.
  • Life Isn't Fair: Percy says so during "Son of Poseidon" when he decides to stop angsting over his dad not being in his life and starts counting his blessing instead.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: Clarisse steals the show in "Put You In Your Place", despite not having a whole lot of bearing on the main plot, as does Charon with "D.O.A.", and Mr. D in "Another Terrible Day".
  • Misery Poker: "The Campfire Song" is essentially the group singing about who's godly parent is the worst. Chiron is declared the winner after bringing up how his father, Kronos, ate his children.
  • Mood Whiplash: Given that the very nature of the plot invokes Bathos, it's inevitable.
    • "The Minotaur", a dramatic song featuring Sally being grievously injured leads directly into "The Weirdest Dream", a surreal Dream Sequence where Percy pokes fun at the weirdness of his own dream.
    • "The Campfire Song", a humorous Misery Poker sequence, is interrupted by Percy's verse. He quietly eulogizes "the only family that really mattered", then, when told to sing about his godly parent, wonders if his dad abandoned him because he didn't want the trouble.
  • Mythology Gag: Several.
    • The argument about getting "dam snacks" from the Hoover Dam during "Drive".
    • The girl with the floppy hat Percy speaks to in the Lotus Hotel.
      Bianca di Angelo: Why, my brother and I arrived just yesterday. May 1st... 1939!
    • Percy says that his singing in "The Campfire Song" would probably cause an avalanche, an allusion to The Last Olympian.
  • No Indoor Voice: Dionysus manages to combine this with Guttural Growler.
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: Chiron's verse in "The Campfire Song" is only a couple of sentences long.
  • Opening Chorus: "Prologue/The Day I Got Expelled" starts with the demigods bemoaning their godly parents.
  • Parental Love Song: "Strong", sung by Sally to Percy when he feels like he's "a screwup" because of his ADHD and dyslexia.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Strong", again (see above). Chiron tries this in "Their Sign", telling Percy that the gods have a plan for him, but he's too angry at his father (who he’s just learned is one of said gods) to listen. Luke does a better job of it, commiserating with Percy about feeling rejected by their respective parents and saying they have to stick together.
  • Race Lift:
    • Sally is portrayed by Carrie Compere, an African-American woman, when she's definitely of European descent in the books. She also doubles for Silena Beauregard, who, while less certain than Sally, is implied to be white. The tradition was continued on Broadway, where she's played by Jalynn Steele.
    • Luke is blond and blue-eyed in the book but in the Lortel and Broadway runs was played by Afro-Latino actor James Hayden Rodriguez.
    • Percy himself, while theorized to be Latino due to his and Sally's apartment being located in the barrio, has been depicted as white in official art. In the first US tour, he was played by Troy Iwata, a mixed-race actor.
    • Grover is played by George Salazar in the cast recording and by Jorrel Javier, a Filipino actor, in the second US tour and the Broadway run.
    • Both Clarisse and Annabeth have been understudied by black actresses.
  • Relationship Compression: Silena and Beckendorf are already together by "Another Terrible Day", but in the books, they only get together during The Battle of the Labyrinth.
  • Reprise Medley: "Bring on the Monsters" contains reprises of "Drive", "Strong", "My Grand Plan", and "Prologue / The Day I Got Expelled".
  • Shout-Out: All of the bands and musicians mentioned in "D.O.A.": James Brown, Kurt Cobain (the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" riff is played under his lines), Janis Joplin, Josh Groban (a possible shout out to the books, where Grover is a fan of Groban), Mozart, and the song "Come Sail Away" by Styx.
  • Stealth Pun: "Prologue" has Luke, Annabeth, Clarisse, and Grover, three of whom are half-blooded children of the Olympians, commentating to the audience about events that are about to happen on-stage. They're a Greek Chorus.
  • Take That!: Not in the musical itself, but when a fan commented that the musical was probably gonna be just as inaccurate as the movies, the official Twitter responded with "We've got a blonde Annabeth, so we're already ahead of the curve."
    • A subtle one, but Movie!Grover mentions that country is his "least favorite music" as they drive to Tennessee. In the musical, guess what style of music Grover's song "Drive" is?
  • Tenor Boy: Played with in that both Percy and Luke are young characters played by tenors, but Luke is a much less heroic figure than he initially appears.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Upon being told Kronos is just using him to get back at the gods, Luke only replies "Good" and then proceeds to gleefully sing about how he'll do anything and hurt anyone if it means he'll get his revenge on the Gods.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Attempted by Luke, who encourages the other demigods (and Percy in particular) to embrace their resentment of their parents.
  • Truer to the Text: Compared to the heavily-reviled movie adaptations.
  • Vague Age: While Percy and Annabeth are 12-year-olds in the original novel, the characters' ages are not mentioned in the musical. Depending on casting, this may allow for the characters to be interpreted as teenagers rather than preteens.
  • Villain Song:
    • "D.O.A" may not be sung by the main antagonist, but considering it's about Charon gloating that the trio aren't ever going to leave the underworld...
      Charon: No hope of survival / You're dead on arrival!
    • A more straightforward example would be Luke's reprise of "Good Kid" during "The Last Day Of Summer".
      Luke: So, I'll do anything. I don't care if I hurt anyone. It doesn't pay to be a good kid, a good kid, a good son. The gods were never on our side, so I think it's time we watch them fall! And soon you'll see what I did! Soon they'll be no gods at all!

I'll be back next summer
You'll see me again
I'll be back next summer
I'll survive 'til then

Alternative Title(s): Percy Jackson And The Olympians