Arts and Learning: Lightning Thief Review

By Annie Young, Publisher for Macaroni Kid Santa Ana and Macaroni Kid Newport Beach-Costa Mesa-Corona del Mar in collaboration with Collette age 14 and Nicolas age 11 July 19, 2022

The Lighting Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, produced by The Arts & Learning Conservatory in Costa Mesa, California is masterfully done and filled with a talented cast of young performers. The hero of our story, Percy Jackson, is the half-blood son of a Greek god and a human mother. He comes upon some newly discovered powers he is unable to control and it shakes him to the core as he grapples with creatures, monsters, and startling discoveries about the people in his orbit. 

The musical is based on the 2005 novel by Rick Riordan with music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki and a book by Joe Tracz. Percy Jackson ventures on an epic quest to find Zeus' missing lightning bold in an effort to prevent a war between the Greek gods. 

Percy, played by the talented Simon Khan, brought the energy and the teen angst to this action packed production. He embodied Percy and really showed the character's internal struggle with trying to be a normal teenager while finding out that he's the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses.

While on the edge of my seat throughout the intense performances, I am drawn to the strong message about family and how, as parents, our choices ultimately affect our children and they must deal with the consequences. Simon not only does a great job as Percy, he embodies teen angst and captivates the audience with his skillful interpretation of Percy. 

My daughter, who is a superfan of Percy Jackson novels, is equally impressed with Sydney Nadal, who plays Percy's best friend, Grover. As my daughter puts it, "Sydney did not stop acting. In every scene she stayed in character and stayed committed to her role as Grover." Sydney does not disappoint. She is able to portray Grover with a heart of gold who overcomes his own past failures and proves to himself that he can be successful in the quest. 

The cast also includes equally talented actors, such as Skylar Christensen as Annabeth, Logan Burnett as Luke, Devyn Dilts as Zeus and Poseidon (wow, 2 gods!), and Kaylie Camacho as Sally. 

My daughter, 14, and son, 11, both agree that the show is so much fun. The Lightning Thief has so much charm and magic that we did not want the story to end. We want more. A great story takes you on a journey, connects with the audience, and leaves you feeling energized. That is what Lightning Thief has done for us. Thank you, Arts & Learning Conservatory for bringing this story to life and opening the door for conversation between me and my kids. 

The Arts & Learning Conservatory is located at 151 Kalmus Drive, Suite G-3 in Costa Mesa, CA. For more information on classes and auditions, please email


Why Arts & Learning Produced Lightning Thief (credit: Arts & Learning Conservatory): 

“The Things That Make You Different, Are the Very Things That Make You Strong,” 

Offering a Sense of Belonging in The Arts & Learning’s Production of The Lightning Thief. 

One of the most common struggles teens face, is finding a space of belonging. Whether this means their struggle in the social battlegrounds of High School, or within their own identities, and families. Part of this unease stems from an assumed lack of agency – those teenagers do not have the ability, or believe they do not have the ability, to feel in control of who they are and wish to be, especially in the society around them. The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical beautifully highlights this struggle and provides students with the opportunity to showcase their agency through that which makes them different. 

Demigods grapple with ADHD and Dyslexia, adept for battle strategy and reading Ancient Greek, but not helpful in a traditional classroom setting. Some Camp Half-Blood Campers, know their godly parents and have tense relationships with them, while others have no idea where they come from, and many don’t feel good enough to garner their parent’s attention or approval. While most teens have parents a little more accessible than Poseidon or Athena, the pressure to live up to or get away from the accomplishments or mistakes of one’s parents can be a painful process for young teens, and indeed, young adults. Lightning Thief brings all this relatable teen angst to the table with a heavy helping of swordcraft, monsters, and magical writing utensils, to show students the agency and bravery that they already possess and their ability to facilitate real change. 

The Conservatory chose this as their second ACTivism Initiative production, not only because it showcases authentic teen voices, but because it celebrates them and allows all cast members the opportunity to be the heroes, we already believe them to be. This show is a chance for our students to be themselves, but at their bravest, smartest, kindest, most colorful, and most creative, articulating to them that they really do belong, both at Camp Half-Blood and here, with us at the Conservatory, blue hair and all, if they wish.