Lightning Strikes

This playwright adapted a popular book for Broadway.
By TFK Kid Reporter Raunak Singh
As seen on
Time for Kids
Kristin Stokes, Chris McCarrell, and Jorrel Javier star acting in the play, The Lightning Thief.
Annabeth (Kristin Stokes), Percy (Chris McCarrell), and Grover (Jorrel Javier) set off on their quest in the stage show adaptation of The Lightning Thief.

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. In 2019, the story of Percy Jackson’s quest to find Zeus’s lightning bolt—and to understand his own place in the world—became 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.”

This story was originally published in TIME for Kids on October 31, 2019.