The perfect way to round off a fantastic year for student theatre is FHTC’s production of Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief. With infectious energy and synergy between the cast from beginning to end, the production brought the audience nothing but pure joy.
The musical, directed with outstanding intention and execution by Thea Stedman Jones and Lara Murphy was the perfect choice for a college musical, skilfully balancing the absurd unapologetic kookiness and the unrelenting intensity of the show. Packed with mammoth musical numbers, meticulous choreography and moments of comedic genius, the cast was pushed to show off everything they were capable of, leaving the audience restless with anticipation. Ella Al Khalil Coyle and Rhyen Hunt’s ambitious choreography was exquisitely executed, with the dance battle choreography in Capture the Flag being a clear highlight. With fight choreography and stunt work, the pair worked tirelessly to find innovative ways to use the space and use the cast as ways to make the set more dynamic, elevating the show. However, there were times when moments of choreography emotionally obstructed more tender moments or important plot points.
The music, masterfully directed by Josh Tarrier and Alex Romance, propelled the show. Josh Tarrier led the band with his unmatched professionalism, with their flawless execution of the rock/pop score creating electrifying energy that permeated the show throughout. The vocals in the show were also extremely impressive, with some especially technically challenging solo numbers allowing the cast to showcase their astounding ranges.
The technical elements of this brought the production to the next level. The tech team used AR to the best of its ability, from emphatic godly voice-overs to Olivia Jones’s stunning costume being attached to the flies, for such a fantastical show, incredibly detailed lighting was vital to bring the directorial vision to life and James Goodall did an incredible job of transporting the audience to a fantasy world with his design, though at moments those stood on the back platform lost visibility for the audience.
Leading the band of happy campers, Ollie Ingoe’s endearing, goofy, awkward portrayal of Percy was casting perfection, impressively managing to keep up his erratic, dynamic characterisation whilst maintaining vocal excellence. Ingo had palpable chemistry with the whole cast, with Maria Erazo, who played Annabeth Chase, and with Jessica Czapla, who as Sally Jackson, created a touching and very convincing maternal connection with Ollie. Maria as Annabeth struck the perfect balance between vigour and softness, and her voice, with a gorgeous tone and understated strength, soared through every song. Special recognition must go to Rhyen Hunt and Olivia Jones who did an astounding job of stepping in to cover the roles that were not their own, due to cast illness, with very little notice. This is no easy feat, but the pair tackled the challenge with exceptional professionalism and the show ran like clockwork. My commiserations go out to Olivia Spillane who was due to play the role of Grover, the chance to see the products of Spillane’s months of hard work was sorely missed.
Another standout performance was Mia Shambrook as Clarisse La Rue. Her incredible vocal range, ferocious characterisation and flawless dancing and above all else, her seamless ability to do all three at once was a pleasure to witness. Her rendition of Capture the Flag was my highlight of the whole show, and the audience was left with a sense of buzzing excitement whenever she came on stage. Dylan Hicks as Mr D was the comedic standout of the show, with unmatched comedic timing and incredible commitment to character amplifying the energy whenever he was on stage. A special commendation must go to the ensemble, who tackled the tight harmonies and challenging choreography with ease, as well as multi-rolling throughout, to great comedic effect. However, I would have liked to see the ensemble parts be more evenly divided as it seemed that some members of the ensemble seemed side-lined at points. Charlie Lloyd-Jones and Medusa were two of the standout ensemble performances, both respectively injecting a hilariously vibrant campness to their roles that transformed the scene and went down a storm with the audience.
This was a company of performers who cherished every second they were on stage, and their contagious enthusiasm and clear love for the show were impossible for the audience to not be influenced by. A beloved story of many a childhood, Percy Jackson holds a very special place in many people’s hearts, and the creative team and cast should be immensely proud to have actualized what for many people is their dream story on stage.
Image credit: FTHC Company