Lightning Strikes at Brewster

Lightning Strikes at Brewster
Suzanne Morrissey

Brewster has a long tradition of great winter musicals, and this year has been no exception. The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical came to life in Anderson Hall this week. With a cast of 13 and under the guidance of Director Liz Baker McClain, the newest member of the Performing Arts Faculty, the play was a hit for its audience of students, family, faculty, staff, and local friends in the Grayson Performing Arts Center—and fans who were able to watch from afar via Livestream. 

Strong vocals, choreography, and terrific comedic timing were on full display as the cast offered the show’s 16 powerful songs—several with clever, rapid-fire lyrics (this writer’s favorite? “The Campfire Song” in Act 1). Watching via Livestream, one viewer commented in the chat, “Vocals were incredible and so was the story telling, indisputably magnificent!” Judging by the audience's reactions and applause, the students agreed.

Interestingly, The Lightning Thief was not the department’s first choice for this year’s musical. “Initially the plan was to perform the high school version of Rent,” explains Mrs. Baker McClain. “When I took over the project in December it became clear that we didn't have the voices we needed for that piece. Some of the students were relieved and some were disappointed.” Back at the drawing board, she asked the students to research musicals that they could reasonably put on with the number of actors available. A field of six was narrowed to two: The Lightning Thief and Little Shop of Horrors. “Both were good choices for the type of voices we have, but The Lightning Thief won out mostly due to the strength of the music and the fact that it hasn’t been performed much in the state of New Hampshire,” Mrs. Baker McClain says, adding that the actors love the script and the music. 

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical debuted off-Broadway in 2014, followed by a U.S. tour and ultimately a limited Broadway run in 2019. With music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki, it is based on the very popular 2005 YA novel The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. A fantasy-adventure based on Greek mythology, the book was the first in the successful Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. The play follows Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old boy with learning differences who discovers that he has the powers of a demigod. 

Once Brewster’s play was selected, the team faced another hurdle: Unable to secure the rights to the play until mid-way through Winter Break, the actors and crew didn’t receive scripts and music the second week in January. “We have essentially cut the production schedule in half,” Mrs. Baker-McClain says. Students worked hard to meet a very ambitious deadline: The props and costume crew (Will Dumont ’25, Al Zahara Al Zaabi ’23, Anna Jo ’25, and Sylvie Skibicki ’23) pivoted to simple sets and costumes—some expertly upcycled from previous performances. Cast members supported Stage Manager Shannon O'Connor ’23 and Assistant Stage Manager Gigi Sassi ’23 by stepping up as stage crew. 

Music teacher Michelle Lowes is the show’s music director and Dance Instructor Carol Abizaid is its choreographer, with assistance from Gabbie Harper ’24 and Sasha Boluchikov ’25, the student choreographers and dancers in the production. “The hip hop-style movement in the show is highlighted during the statue scene. Our dancers have created choreography that brings up the energy of the moment, and the actors are brought in to emphasize the essence of the scene,” Ms. Abizaid says.

Mrs. Baker McClain complimented her cast and crew for their dogged dedication to rehearsals reflected in one particularly poignant moment. “About two weeks ago we had a particularly long and stressful rehearsal,” she shared. “About halfway through our time together I gave the cast a 10-minute break. They had been singing since 9 a.m. and I felt they needed water and a break.” She left Anderson to grab something from her car, and expected to return to a quiet set, with performers resting their voices. “Instead, I returned to find the entire cast and several members of the crew on stage singing a song from ‘Dear Evan Hanson,’ a favorite musical of the cast. They spend their break essentially doing exactly what they had been doing all morning—singing and dancing on stage! They love what they are doing so much.” 

Full Cast and Crew:

Liam Fahey: Percy Jackson
Kellye Nguyen: Annabeth Chase
Hannah Ruegg: Grover
Evelyn Hafner: Luke and Sally Jackson
Logan Cliche: Chiron, Poseidon, Kronos, and Kurt Cobain
Jack Northrop: Gabe, Mr. D, Auntie Em, and Hades
Noah Jacobs: Clarisse, Bianca, Katie, and Mozart
Hannah Parella: Silena, Ares, and Echidna
Crystal Silfanus: Mrs. Dodds, Newscaster, and the Squirrel
Michelle Lowes: the Oracle and Charon
Ruby Lowes: James Brown and Camper
Archer McClain: Minotaur and Camper
Goddesses: Gabbie Harper and Sasha Bulochnikov

Director: Liz Baker McClain
Technical Director: Kyle Williams
Music Director: Michelle Lowes
Choreographer: Carol Abizaid
Student Choreographers: Gabbie Harper & Sasha Bulochnikov
Stage Manager: Shannon O’Connor
Assistant Stage Manager and Sound - Gigi Sassi 
Props - William Dumont
Costumes - Al Zaharaa Al Zaabi, Anna Jo, Sylvie Skibicki
Lighting - Liam Carrey
Stagecraft - Aaron Clark, Carey Booth, Jack Matthews, Byron Wang, Bach Nguyen, Harry Luo

Mrs. Baker McClain and the company offer special thanks in their program for the help and support of Meagan Fahey, Lauren Hammond, Kyle Reynolds, Amy Hill, Alicia Childers, Steve Burgess, and members of the afterschool art program.


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