As we’re still lamenting the end of Lightning Thief‘s Broadway run, we’re overanalyzing the songs on the Deluxe Cast Recording album!
What’s the one thing we’ve always begged for from the team behind The Lightning Thief Musical? (Other than a Sea of Monsters musical… still holding out hope on that one!) That’s right, a chance to hear some of the 27 cut songs from the musical!
Ask and ye shall receive: The Lightning Thief Musical has released a deluxe version of their cast album, where the Broadway cast had a chance to record five deleted songs from the musical! It’s now available from Broadway Records and wherever else music is sold.
There has been a lot of exciting news out of The Lightning Thief’s fandom lately — we bid a tear-drenched farewell to the Broadway production and the original cast, and then the Tony-winning Ashlee Latimer was unmasked as being behind the beloved @LTMusical Twitter account. But now that we demigods are in withdrawal, waiting for news of the next tour, it seems like a perfect time to do a deep dive into these cut songs.
Helpfully, on the CD case itself, there are brief blurbs from composer Rob Rokicki about each song — its place in the show, and why it was cut. And while we can’t argue that any of the songs should have remained in the show, it’s such a gift that we get to hear them now.
Admittedly, the album begins inauspiciously with “Camp Half-Blood,” a ditty about Camp Half-Blood that veers into parody rather than sincere adaptation of the books. But as soon as that’s over, you can settle in to listen to some absolute gems.
‘Pick a Side’
The thing that immediately strikes you upon listening to this song is how mind-blowingly great James Hayden Rodriguez sounds here, singing as Luke. As before, everything he says and does has double meanings – even as he urges his fellow demigods not to fight each other, there’s the undercurrent of his dastardly schemes underneath. This song is really The Lightning Thief — both book and musical — at its best. It fleshes out side characters whom we like, who all have valid points of view that bring them into conflict, and as a song it’s a joy to listen to.
The song also introduces a major theme running through this album: how the demigods don’t need to fight their parents’ battles. While that still appears in the final musical in dialogue between Annabeth and Percy, it looks to have been much more prevalent in the cut material. “Pick a Side” spells this theme out for us, and later, “In the Same Boat” will drive it home for our protagonists, in a fleshed-out version of Percy and Annabeth’s Act 2 conversation about no longer fighting with each other.
All the songs on this album are also full of references to the Percy Jackson books, little gems that will delight the most hardcore fans. In “Pick a Side,” there is a reference to “The Last Olympian,” which may be among the most loaded references in the Riordanverse. (Unrelated to PJO, but receiving ALL the brownie points in these lyrics: referring to Percy’s “Poseidon Adventure!”)
This song takes your heart and just stomps on it, all while dazzling your eardrums! I absolutely bawled when listening to this song (several times in a row), and the melody has been haunting me for several days afterwards.
When first listening to it, my eyes were already getting suspiciously full, and then Percy sings to Annabeth, “I won’t leave your side ‘til you’re remembered.” And it’s such a powerful sentiment! We talk a lot about The Lightning Thief empowering young girls with “My Grand Plan.” But just as important, it shows boys the value of listening, being supportive, being empathetic. This one line is a perfect peak on that arc of Percy’s, hearkening back to show that he fully absorbed what Annabeth was saying in “My Grand Plan,” and demonstrating that he has her back. If the Internet does not immediately put this quote on every Percabeth GIF ever, the Internet is wrong.
If the Percabeth feels aren’t enough, there’s also a line in the middle that’s one of the most devastating things we’ve ever heard: “We’re not brave, we’re not strong, we’re not soldiers.” We read so much YA that we may have become desensitized to teenagers leading revolutions and saving the world, but here Rokicki shows just how far out of their depth these kids are. That sentiment remained in the final show in “Lost in the Woods,” but it’s played with a more comedic edge there.
“Try” also retains echoes in the actual show through “Bring on the Monsters.” The epic closing number is essentially a reprise of pretty much every song in the show, and “Try” makes two appearances in the finalized lyrics, even if we didn’t appreciate that it was a reprise until now. First, in “Try,” there’s a line that goes, “My heart’s just a drum, and, damn, does it pound.” There’s a callback to this when Silena sings in the finale, “They’re breaking your heart / Then try to hear it pound.” Second, in “Try,” the refrain goes, “I may fail but it doesn’t mean that I won’t try.” In “Bring on the Monsters,” Annabeth hearkens back to this: “We could fail but we have to try.” It’s just lovely that this song is still buried in the musical’s DNA.
It was the right call to cut “Try” from the show — it doesn’t really fit tonally with the rest of the musical. But the song is a tour de force, it should become a concert standard for years to come.
‘In the Same Boat’
On a cheerier note, “Same Boat” is just delightful! We remember this song from when it was in the one-act version of the show, and we’ve often lamented that it had to go! At least we now have the song preserved for posterity.
The highlight of the song is definitely Annabeth’s bridge: “Athena, give me strength so I don’t kill him!” And this is followed by a reprise of “Weirdest Dream,” which is such an adorable Percabeth parallel. Storywise, it’s a little soon to be spelling out that Annabeth’s thinking Percy is cute, but my shipper heart won’t be denied!
The comedy in this song is infectious: I dare anyone not to guffaw the first time they hear Grover third-wheeling, “They’ll kill each other, or they’ll kiss!” (Preceded by a great line about titans clashing, followed by some ominous Heroes of Olympus foreshadowing. This song is firing on all cylinders with the references!) And Ryan Knowles is featured as Charon, and he is having so much fun here!
The funniest part (and the one I always remembered) is the ultimate punchline: “We’re in the same boat, in a literal boat…” Is it worth a five-minute set-up for that joke? I’ve always come down on the side of “yes.”
‘The Wittlest Minotaur’
It’s Kristin Stokes singing as a baby minotaur!
It’s a song based on an inside joke steeped in layers of the show’s history, and it actually sounds like something that would be right at home in Rokicki’s “Monstersongs.” This song is emblematic of the fandom being brought in on the joke by the creative team of The Lightning Thief, ending the album with that note of openness and appreciation that have fostered a community around the show… the type of people who enjoy doing deep dives into cut songs from a musical!