• Lillie Burke

PREVIEW: An all-Belmont cast will bring legends and lyrics to life in Nashville debut of “The

“The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is set to make its regional premiere at Nashville Children’s Theatre, featuring a cast from Belmont’s own musical theater department.

The show, which opens Friday, is the story of “a young man who finds out that he is the son of a Greek god, and then goes on a journey of self-discovery with his two best friends … and really discovers more about himself and his talents, and then he’s ready to kind of tackle the world at the end,” said NCT executive artistic director Ernie Nolan.

On the journey to self-discovery, there are recurring themes of gaining confidence, defining identity, overcoming obstacles, facing monsters and finding a sense of belonging.

Originally produced as an off-Broadway show in 2014, “The Lightning Thief” is a musical take on a bestselling children’s fantasy series: “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” by Rick Riordan, which hit shelves in 2005.

The show is based on the first book, which has sold more than 1.2 million copies worldwide and tells the centuries-old tale of a hero’s journey through the lens of a teenage coming-of-age story. The adventure centers around 12-year-old Percy Jackson — the unsuspecting mortal son of Poseidon — his found friendships and his quest to prevent a war on Mount Olympus.

But “The Lightning Thief” is not just a show for kids, said Nolan.

“There’s so much about this show that to me is really ageless, that you can watch at any age,” he said. “Just because it has a young person at the center doesn’t mean you have to be young to watch and enjoy.”

Many in the all-student cast became avid fans of the books when they were the same age as the protagonists, making the production a nostalgic experience.

Junior Sierra Fermin plays smart, savvy female lead Annabeth Chase, a daughter of the wisdom goddess Athena. Fermin said portraying one of her childhood role models brought her back to memories of being a kid, and she hopes it will do the same for other audience members who grew up reading the books.

Though the original off-Broadway production had seven actors, the NCT production is using an expanded cast of 13, adding depth to the show’s visuals and vocals.

“I think having more people adds a new level to the production,” said Fermin. “The fact that we have more really makes us feel like we’re all in this together and part of this community that’s bigger than just ourselves and our characters.”

Senior Jamie Bradley, the show’s fight and dance captain who plays daughter-of-Aphrodite Silena Beauregard and other ensemble roles, said the production reminded her of why she began acting in the first place.

“Seeing the characters that I loved on stage was one of the main reasons that I ended up doing theater,” said Bradley.

The show premieres Friday at 7 p.m. and runs about two hours. Performances will run on weekends through Oct. 31, and information about tickets and showtimes can be found on the NCT website.

PHOTO: Some of “The Lightning Thief” cast squad up in an NCT promo image. Courtesy of Nashville Children’s Theatre.

This article was written by Jaymey Hedberg.

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