Ghostlight Youth Company is a relatively new educational theatre program producing plays and musicals at the Catherine A. Hickman Theatre in Gulfport.
Their mission statement reads, “To grow and enrich the community theater community in the area.” The program is open to anyone ages ten and up who want to learn, explore, and develop their creative skills in a safe environment with a community theatre group.
Its current production is the musical The Lightning Thief. The book is by Joe Tracz, the music and lyrics are by Rob Rokicki. Rachel Fennell directed the musical with music direction by Rich Mutkoski. The production adapted from the award-winning young reader’s fantasy novel Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.
This production’s cast is mostly pre-teen and teenage student actors, with a handful of adult actors. Most of the actors played multiple roles.
The story revolves around Percy Jackson, a teenage boy struggling to understand the world and fit in.
After some bizarre events while he and his class visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, his school expelled Percy. His mother makes the difficult decision to send Percy away to protect him from his abusive stepfather.
What follows is a fantastic journey of self-discovery for Percy. Not only does Percy discover that his friends and teachers are mythical creatures, but he discovers that he is a demi-god. He must set off on a quest to clear his name with the Greek God Zeus for a crime that he did not commit.
The Lightning Thief
This production of The Lightning Thief is performed with great heart. Clearly, this young cast is committed to delivering their highest quality performance, and they enjoy working together.
Owen Stewart played the lead character, Percy Jackson. Stewart gave a fully committed performance as Percy, embodied great energy and emotional depth with the character that propelled the story.
Samantha Lee played Percy’s best friend, Grover, a satyr, a half-goat, half-human being. Lee performed the role with great comedic timing and has the best goat laugh I have ever heard.
Thea Fennell played Annabeth with the right combination of toughness and caring. Landon Moore played the stalwart, appearing Luke well. Cecelia Ortega is unshakeable as Clarissa. David Warner gave a hilarious turn as Hades. Gabriella LeRoux, one of the cast’s youngest members, offered an impressive performance as the Oracle.
The cast, including Hailey Hession, Gayle Hession, Savannah Ford-Myers, Brianna LeRoux, and Curt Fennell, all gave admirable performances.
Public School Theater
A related critic’s note: the day I was set to review this production, I sadly learned that Seminole High is not offering a theater program this school year. With the decline of theater education in our public schools, programs such as Ghostlight Youth Company are essential to help our youth cultivate their creative skills and develop empathy for a healthier future for all. Seek out and engage with these organizations.
See the Show
The Lightning Thief, Catherine Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport. Through Aug. 20: Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $25. ghostlightyc.org