Oregon Children’s Theatre’s The Lightning Thief is Electrifying

Greek mythology is cool again, thanks in no small part to Rick Riordan’s series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. When I read the books aloud to my children, I was just as obsessed as they were, and many a bedtime hour came and went as we read “just one more chapter.” When I heard that Oregon Children’s Theatre was bringing the popular first novel The Lightning Thief to the stage, I was just as excited as my kids to see it come to life.

Courtesy of Oregon Children’s Theatre

What is The Lightning Thief?

The Lightning Thief follows the story of Percy Jackson, a struggling student and child of a single mother, as he discovers his true identity as the son of a Greek god. He battles monsters alongside other young misfit demigods, whom he meets at Camp Half-Blood. The adventures culminate in a satisfying hero’s quest.

This rock musical will appeal to children who love fantasy stories like Harry Potter. While the show is recommended for ages eight to 12, both kids and adults will enjoy the performance. Charles Isherwood of Broadway News writes, “The Lightning Thief could be called Hadestown for kids.”


Know Before You Go

If your child hasn’t read the chapter book or graphic novel, I recommend reading a synopsis before you go. The entire plot of the novel is covered in 60 minutes, so it helps if you have a basic understanding of who Kronos is, for example. As six actors play 18 roles, the show has the potential to be confusing to someone experiencing the story for the first time.

Why OCT’s Version is Special

I was absolutely blown away by 16-year-old Tyson Thames’s performance as Percy Jackson. Thames has serious Dear Evan Hansen vibes, and enough charisma and vocal talent to carry the show, despite being one of the youngest members of the cast. His comedic timing is spot-on, and I can’t wait to watch his career develop. Thames’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.

The show is also visually appealing. I loved the costumes designed by Sydney Dufka, who rose to the challenge of defining the many characters with clear costume and prop changes. Chiron’s centaur costume is an engineering feat! The scenic design by Alex Meyer and lighting by Carl Faber are also expertly executed and transform the stage from sea to Underworld seamlessly.

More Than a Fun Night Out

There are countless lines in the show that I’m thrilled made their way to my child’s ears:

  • “Normal is a myth.”
  • “Everyone has issues.”
  • “Our parents have made mistakes; that doesn’t mean we have to make them, too.”
  • “Maybe he did the best that he could do.”
  • “The things that make you different are the things that make you special.”

These important truths are mixed with laugh out loud hilarity, all from the mouths of teenage characters who are way cooler than the parents normally communicating these messages. Percy himself — the hero of the story — has ADHD and dyslexia. If you’re looking for a slyly educational show that makes your kid feel seen and celebrates the outsider, get tickets now.


The Lightning Thief
January 21-February 18, 2024
Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am and 2 pm
Newmark Theatre
Tickets range from $26-$49, with $5 Arts for All tickets available

Are your kids younger than eight? Check out Goodnight Moon, also playing now! It’s just the burst of nostalgia you need right now.

Meg Asby
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