Q&A: ‘The Lightning Thief’ electrifies Chicago

'The Lightning Thief' electrifies Chicago

Courtesy Broadway in Chicago

‘The Lightning Thief’ electrifies Chicago

By Molly Walsh

Percy Jackson finds himself faced with some practical problems of being a teenage boy growing up in New York: drama at school, a mother with a rude boyfriend and the oh-so-casual pressure of preventing a war between the gods.

Based on the 2005 fantasy-adventure novel by Rick Riordan, “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical,” has a limited engagement at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., until Jan. 13.

In a discussion with The Chronicle, cast member Sarah Beth Pfeifer discussed character development, the story and Greek mythology.

THE CHRONICLE: How do you feel being a part of the show? 

 This show is incredibly special to me. I’ve been a part of it for almost five years now. I was involved in one of the first workshops of it. I’ve met some of my best friends through it. It’s been this constant in my life that’s been amazing. The huge bonus is that there’s this built-in fan base of people who love the books and who feel lucky that we are doing the book justice with our adaptation.

How would you describe your character? 

My character is Clarisse. She is the daughter of Ares and portrayed in the first book as a bully. She hazes Percy a little bit when he first gets to Camp Half Blood. There’s a song in the show called “Put You in Your Place” that portrays that.

How do you personify the role of Ares’ daughter? 

The first thing I do is go to the gym a lot—Clarisse is definitely a jock. Singing “Put You in Your Place” takes a lot of stamina because I am singing really high and sword fighting, all at the same time. By doing that number and throwing myself into it with the fighting and the crazy singing, getting into character takes care of itself. 

Who is your favorite Greek god or goddess and why?

I am a child of Athena. All of my friends think of me as a smarty pants. I can accidentally end up lecturing without meaning to sometimes. I love reading, and I was a straight A student in school. Thinking about things in an intellectual way is my favorite way to view the world. 

How is this show different compared to other productions? 

There’s a lot of epic stuff that goes on, such as Percy controlling the ocean, gods appearing and giant monsters attacking him. The fun thing about the show is that it was never our goal to be like a Hollywood [Computer Generated Imagery] version of all of that—it was more like we wanted to embrace the theatricality of it. For water, we famously use toilet paper attached to a leaf blower, which sounds funny in concept, but is super gratifying and theatrical.