From Touring in a Van to Broadway: The Lightning Thief's Journey to the Big Time From Humble Beginnings

Comic Con   From Touring in a Van to Broadway: The Lightning Thief's Journey to the Big Time From Humble Beginnings
 
The cast and creative team of Broadway's Percy Jackson musical gave New York Comic Con attendees a look at how The Lightning Thief made it to New York's main stem.
Chris McCarrell in <i>The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical</i>
Chris McCarrell in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical Jeremy Daniel

The cast and creative team from The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical came to New York Comic Con October 4 to talk about the new musical, now in previews at the Longacre Theatre. Attendees were taken through the production’s history, from its first iteration as an hour-long musical geared for school tours to the current Broadway run.

Lightning Thief began its life with TYA company TheatreWorks USA, who convinced author Rick Riordon to let them try out adapting his popular YA novel for the stage. When book writer Joe Tracz, a fan of the series since the first novel was published, heard that Percy Jackson might be turned into a stage musical, he knew he needed to work on it or, as he said, “I will swordfight anyone to write that musical.” Composer Rob Rokicki luckily did not need to take up fencing. Rokicki submitted songs to the show on the recommendation of Joe Iconis, offering up “Strong,” which (he believes) got him the job.

Despite its fantasy roots, Chris McCarrell (Percy) said that the story works especially well as a musical.

"It’s these seemingly normal kids with these powers they can’t control. And what better way to heighten a character in a story than to make them break out in rock songs when they’re emotionally bubbling over?”

But translating a novel with Greek Gods and mythological monsters would be a tall order for any theatrical team, and Lightning Thief's earliest incarnation had to be able to tour from school to school with the entire set in a van. In the original script, a scene featuring the onstage transformation of a wheelchair-bound human into a centaur included the stage direction "good luck, director!"

Many moments have received fuller realizations for the show's full-length Broadway production, as actor Kristin Stokes shared.

“[It initially was] Kristin why don’t you climb on this person’s shoulders and pretend to be the minotaur, [whereas now] we have a full-on monster puppet.”

Like its title character, The Lightning Thief has had its own odyssey in getting to Broadway, but we’re glad it’s here.

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical opens October 16 at the Longacre Theatre.

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