- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - A new musical version of the popular young adult fiction book “The Lightning Thief” will be hoping to steal hearts off-Broadway this spring featuring rising stage star Chris McCarrell.

McCarrell, who played Marius in the recent Broadway revival of “Les Miserables” as well as Nibs in “Peter Pan Live!” will play Percy Jackson, a modern-day teen who finds himself on a quest to find Zeus’ lightning bolt.

“It’s really going to push the envelope of (the) magic of theater. The world is so epic and it is so grand and it doesn’t seem like you could portray that onstage, but that’s really where the magic of theater comes in,” said McCarrell.

The musical, written by Joe Tracz (Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”) and Rob Rokicki (the musical “Strange Tails”) will play at the Lucille Lortel Theatre starting in March. It’s recommended for ages 7 and up. Tickets are $65-$85.

“The Lightning Thief,” written by Rick Riordan, has been adapted into a motion picture franchise and a graphic novel in 2010. In 2014, it was turned into a one-hour musical by Theatreworks USA, but this new version runs into two acts, has a larger cast and will have a live band onstage.

The work, which adapts the stories of Greek mythology for a contemporary setting, is rich material for any actor, and McCarrell is relishing all the twists and turns facing him.

“When musicals are written for the sake of musicals, sometimes the world isn’t fleshed out completely,” he said. “So I really enjoy when behind that two-hour world there is this universe of hours of reading and hours of characters and movies and books and series. I always love when there’s a universe behind the musical.”

McCarrell didn’t have time to read the book when he found out there would be auditions for the show the next day. He got the job the same day and immediately jumped into the world of Percy Jackson.

“It’s going to be so crazy to get this guy to come out of me because there’s so much of him already there,” he said. “This story has so much gunpowder in it. If we hit it right, I think it could make some explosions happen.”

McCarrell, a 2013 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University’s music theater program, said he always hoped for a career onstage in the world of off-Broadway. When he came to New York, he just happened to start with a meaty Broadway role - Marius in “Les Miz.”

“My dream was always to be an off-Broadway actor that would sometimes get snatched up by Broadway. But I always wanted the backbone of my career to be off-Broadway,” he said. “This is what I grew up dreaming about - doing superhero, demi-god shows off-Broadway down in the West Village.”

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Online: http://www.LightningThiefMusical.com

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Mark Kennedy is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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