Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school again.
Seth Eliser doesn’t mind because the longer Percy stays in trouble, the longer he’ll be Eliser’s alter ego in TheatreworksUSA’s “The Lightning Thief.” The traveling musical version of Rick Riordan’s teen novel takes the Manship Theatre stage on Sunday, Oct. 18.
Eliser won’t say if he ever landed in trouble in any of his classes at St. Amant High School. After graduating from St. Amant, the Ascension Parish native earned his bachelor’s degree at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut.
Eliser lives in New York now, where he works with new musical theater writers. They create the music, and Eliser plays either guitar or drums on the recorded musical tracks that accompany so many road shows. That included the musical track for “The Lightning Thief.”
“I played drums on that track,” Eliser says. “But I didn’t see the show until it came to Off-Broadway. I remember thinking, ‘I have to be in that musical.’ ”
Eliser landed the leading role of Percy Jackson in August and hit the road with the show in late September, performing to his own drum beats on the track.
“When I listen to the soundtrack now, I think about how I should have done this or that different,” he says, laughing. “But I can’t change it, and with this being a track show, we can’t really change anything in the show, either. Our timing has to be perfect.”
That pace depends on Eliser as 12-year-old Percy, a source of trouble to his teachers. He suffers from dyslexia and ADHD, but, unknown to him, he also possesses the powers of a demigod.
“The Lightning Thief” is the first book in Riordan’s “Percy Jackson & The Olympians” series. The novel was published in 2005, made into a film in 2007 and adapted into a one-hour musical in 2014.
“Our tour has just started,” Eliser says. “We have a lot of combat scenes, and they had to bring in a professional company to choreograph it and teach us how to fight.”
The cast is small, meaning Eliser’s cast mates each must play several parts. And though the story never changes, each venue offers a new challenge.
“We have to adapt to each theater, but I’m most excited about performing in the Manship Theatre,” he says. “I performed in several productions with Ascension Community Theatre and Center Stage Performing Arts Academy when I lived in Ascension Parish, but I never performed in the Manship Theatre. When I learned we would bring the show to the Manship, I was so excited.”
As for Percy’s classroom problems, Eliser doesn’t see his character as a troublemaker.
“He’s just misunderstood,” he says. “He’s genuinely good at heart, and he wants to protect others. He has no one to help him, and he thinks he’s all alone in the world. He just needs someone to show him his path in life.”