November 8, 2019
The Lightning Thief is a best-selling children’s book by Rick Riordan. It has been translated into more than 40 languages. In 2010, it was made into a movie. Now the story of Percy Jackson’s quest to find Zeus’s lightning bolt—and to understand his own place in the world—is a Broadway musical.
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical opened in spring 2017 at a small theater in New York City. It went on a tour of 32 cities in the United States before returning to New York—this time, to Broadway’s Longacre Theatre.
The show was written by Joe Tracz. He had the difficult job of adapting Riordan’s book for the stage. “You can’t sum up a 377-page book in a two-hour play,” Tracz told TIME for Kids. “You have to leave some parts out. This is very hard because if we don’t include someone’s favorite part, they might not like the show.”
According to Tracz, when he first set out to write the musical, he wanted to strike a tone that was very different from that of the movie. “Percy is such a fun-loving kid,” he says. “But the movie is super serious. Instead, we tried to make the musical funny and entertaining.”
Tracz hopes the musical is an immersive experience, one that pulls the audience into the action. “In a movie, everything is happening onscreen,” he says. “But in a play, you are in the story with the actors. You are part of the play.”
The show’s seven actors play an astounding 47 parts. Some have only one role to play, while others take on several.
Actor Kristin Stokes plays just one part, but it’s an important one. She portrays the goddess Athena’s daughter Annabeth, who helps Percy on his quest. TFK spoke to Stokes about how she prepared for her role. She says some aspects were particularly challenging to get right. “The fight choreography was especially hard because it had to look like we were really fighting,” she says. “We also had to go at the pace of the music.”
How does Stokes get ready for each performance? “I do some meditation, ground myself, and start with a clean slate before I do something as exciting as this show,” she says.
The Lightning Thief is scheduled to run on Broadway for 16 weeks.