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Percy Jackson comes alive on stage in 'The Lightning Thief'

| Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
Presented by Theatreworks USA. At Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, NYC). Pictured (l-r): Kristin Stokes, Eric Meyers, Jordan Stanley
Presented by Theatreworks USA. At Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, NYC). Pictured: Eric Meyers (center) and company.

Theatreworks USA's new production of “The Lightning Thief” has everything young audiences could want in live entertainment — an action-packed adventure with a brave hero who triumphs over evil monsters.

The action doesn't take place in a galaxy far, far away as in a modern-day “Star Wars” adventure, but rather a long, long time ago in the age of Greek mythology.

Percy Jackson is a modern-day teen who finds himself in a strange predicament, charged with stealing Zeus' master lightning bolt and having only 10 days to find and return it and bring peace to a Mt. Olympus at war.

Think mythical superhero meets angered Mt. Olympus gods.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust brings the adventure story to the stage complete with elements of rock music, choreographed fight scenes and creative costuming as part of its EQT Bridge Theater Series. “The Lightning Thief” is adapted from the first of five books in Rick Riordan's bestselling “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” series and is recommended for ages 7 and up.

In the touring production that comes to the August Wilson Center for four performances over two days, Jake Glassman plays Percy Jackson. Glassman is from Wilmington, Del., now living in New York City and embarking on his first national tour. At age 24, he says he is the oldest person in the cast, portraying a 12-year-old.

Glassman is having fun being a swashbuckling hero, but the role presents a unique challenge for the actor who is left-handed.

“I'm pretty much carrying a sword and shield during the entire show — and everything is choreographed for someone who is right-handed, so I needed to conform,” he says. “I had a sore right arm for a week and a half.”

Nevada Brandt of Burbank, Calif., portrays one of Percy's friends, Annabeth.

“I love Annabeth because she is a smart, witty, strong and adventurous girl,” Brandt says. “She is really fun to play because I have a lot of similarities with her. She's not your average girly girl, which I can relate to. She's so fun and energetic and has a really interesting depth to her character.”

“The Lightning Thief” is appealing to both students and adults, she says, and she is honored to share her craft with young people.

“Theatreworks USA has given me such a wonderful opportunity to perform for kids that have maybe never seen a show and inspire them to tell a story or to do what I get to do every day,” Brandt says. “Being a part of the theater community is so heartwarming and is what is going to keep love going in our country.”

Besides being a fun fantasy adventure, the show also delivers a positive message about finding one's true potential as Percy overcomes his own personal challenges.

First appearing off-Broadway, “The Lightning Thief” has been touring since 2014. It has been nominated for several awards, including outstanding musical from the Lortel Awards and best family show from the Off Broadway Alliance.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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