News • October 13, 2022

CBU opens theatre season with ‘Lightning Thief’

CBU opens theatre season with ‘Lightning Thief’

Riverside, Calif. (Oct. 13, 2022) – Opening night is this weekend for the California Baptist University theatre program’s first production of the semester, “The Lightning Thief.”

“The Lightning Thief” follows the story of beloved fantasy book character Percy Jackson, a kid who discovers he is half-god, half-mortal and must navigate this newfound fantasy world, making friends and enemies along the way. The musical—a mix of contemporary musical theatre and rock—opens on Oct. 14.

Ethan Park, adjunct professor of theatre, is the director for this production. He works with a production team to plot how scenes will unfold on stage, planning details such as lighting, sound, costumes and design. He also blocks the show, telling actors where they should go during scenes in order to help them perform their roles.

“It starts with, ‘Where do I stand and how do we move?’” Park said. “After we have all that set, it goes into the nitty-gritty of ‘What are my intentions with this line? What is my character going through and thinking about? And how am I affecting the other characters in the scene?’ We really get down to the emotions of it all.”

Park said the most challenging aspect of the preparation process was the fast turnaround time. Auditions began the first week of school and rehearsals began the second week.

Park has directed two CBU theatre productions in the past, including “Fools” by Neil Simon last semester. He said “The Lightning Thief” is unique compared to other shows because many members of the cast are playing multiple characters. The cast only consists of seven actors, but they are playing a total of 40 roles.

“There really are no small roles,” Park said. “Everyone is so busy the whole time, and I’ve just been really proud of how all of the actors have stepped up and dealt with all the craziness and the costume changes and everything. It’s been a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun so far.”

Nathan Sporcich, a marketing senior, is playing the lead role of Percy. He will be on the stage the entire show, which requires him to be intentional about remaining engaged throughout the show. To get into character, he works with Park during rehearsals to explore what Percy might be feeling in any given moment.

“We talk with our director, and we go over scenes multiple times to develop our character,” Sporcich said. “It is usually happening in the moment. We will be delivering some lines, and then he’ll stop us, and we’ll talk. … It is usually dissecting things as you go.”

Although having a small cast can present challenges, Sporcich said his favorite part of the show has been the tight community that has come with it.

“That smaller cast has helped to build some good relationships with everybody,” Sporcich said. “These are people I’ve done shows with before in the past, but having a smaller group allows us to get to know each other on a deeper level.”

Madilyn Fleming, a theatre sophomore, will be playing Clarisse, along with additional characters. She is looking forward to seeing audiences relate to the characters.

“Everyone in the audience can take different things from a performance, and it can be different every single time,” Fleming said. “I love that about theatre, and I love that about this show. It’s funny because they are half-bloods—half-gods, half-people—but they’re so human. I feel like there are a lot of traits in those characters people in the audience will be able to resonate with.”

Park said he hopes that the production will help audience members step away from any stressors in their lives for a period of time.

“That’s one of the things I love about this show — we have crazy fight scenes, and we have hilarious comedic bits that I’m excited to share with the audience,” Park said. “But also, this show has a lot of heart. This kid goes through this journey where his life gets upended, and he’s kind of discovering himself as he goes along, and so I think the audience will leave with a smile.”

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14-15, Oct. 20-22; 2 p.m. Oct. 15, 22

Where: Wallace Theatre, California Baptist University, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA, 92504

For more information, please visit

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Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504