Raglan Theatre Academy once again takes us on a fantastical journey. Mixing the modern age with Greek mythology, we follow the quest of a young and trouble-prone Percy Jackson, (Wai Ariki Tepania) who discovers he is the son of the Sea God Poseidon (Elliot Wilson).
Aided by the enthusiastic Satyr, Grover (Ivy Brunskill) and the daughter of Athena, Annabeth (Josie Harder), Percy must complete the difficult quest to find the thief of Zeus’s lightning bolt to prevent war between the Olympians, as well as rescue his mother (Lani Frazerhurst) from the powerful Hades (Brooklyn Bayliss).
Inspired by the first novel of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, ‘The Lightning Thief’, written and directed by Ruth Hare, is an adaptation with a Kiwi twist, taking us to the likes of Skycity and Weta Workshop.
After Percy is sent to Camp Halfblood – to be around others like himself – we meet the half-bloods and the knowledgeable Satyr Chiron (Zaria O’Donnell). The half-bloods, fronted by a cunning Luke (Katie Parkes) and Clarisse (Isla Kirk-Orman), are fierce as they play out a well-choreographed combat scene.
Consistently throughout Percy’s journey, an assortment of characters tries their best to stop Percy, Grover and Annabeth from completing their quest. Mythical creatures such as the Cerberus (Sylvia Haughey, Amanda-Aroha Rolton, Niko Arathimos), Minotaur (Matai Jones), and the Furies (Danielle Marquand, Kaia Ridley, Judy McLean) come onto their path and create challenge after challenge.
Trying to trap the group, the Lotus Casino dwellers are a delight to watch in their circus-like routine and as game-addicted characters.
Led into the underworld by the charismatic Weta Workshop Guide Charon (Selva Petzold de la Cruz), we are introduced to the energetic Underworld skeletons – a definite crowd favourite, sporting neon face paint and skeleton outfits which were brilliantly highlighted by UV lights.
The youngest of the cast starred as stone garden creatures, delivering an adorable performance before scattering the stage in the presence of Medusa. Medusa (Vida Bradbury) leaves an ominous yet charming impression as she attempts to lure the trio into becoming stone garden creatures themselves.
The roles of Ares (Giorgia Hope), Hades (Brooklyn Bayliss), Poseidon (Elliot Wilson), and Zeus (Rudy Welsh) are wonderfully played by their actors and leave a powerful impact.
Despite the obstacles, Percy is aided by the likes of the Oracle of Delphi (Sylvie Haughey) and the enchanting water spirits led by Nereid (Ayla Lindfield).
Another highlight was professional news reporter Barbara Walters (Kaya Le Gouais Borgoo) who gave us the comedic interviews of Percy’s Camaro-loving stepfather Gabe (Milan Marshall) as well as the disoriented bus driver (Matai Jones) whose state of shock brought out lots of laughs.
The production is truly brought to life not only by the talented cast but by the gorgeous costumes designed by Miriam Hare. Ayla Lindfield and ex-student Bella Alexander brought out their talents through Ayla’s creation of Nereid’s costume and Bella’s of Zeus and the Oracle of Delphi costumes. The makeup design by Angela Fisher and Amy Hanna ultimately completes the unique look of each character, and along with costuming, brings Ruth Hare’s vision to life.
Raglan Theatre Academy once again brings us a production full of passion and love for the arts. With a good versus evil story riddled with twists, the audience is always in for a treat at a Raglan Theatre Academy show.
Review by Cassidy Hanna – Photos by Amy Hanna