Percy Jackson has fought all manners of monsters, but his latest adventure sees him adapted for the stage in The Lightning Thief, a musical based on (and named for) the first book in author Rick Riordan’s best-selling series. Now EW has your exclusive first listen to the full cast album, which will be going on sale July 7. (Stream below.)
Written by Joe Tracz and Rob Rokicki, and produced by not-for-profit theatre company Theatreworks USA, the musical tells the story of Percy, a young boy who discovers that not only is he the son of a Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but that his father is sending him on a quest to find Zeus’ missing master lightning bolt. Accompanied by his best friends Grover (who is actually a satyr) and Annabeth Chase (the daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom), Percy departs on his mission, encountering all kinds of mythological beasts as he attempts to prevent an all-out war between the gods.
When it came to adapting the book — which has previously been made into a feature film adaptation — Tracz said he and Rokicki decided to focus on and build up Camp Half-Blood, the summer camp for children of the gods (or “half-bloods,” as they’re known) since this is not just an important setting within the series, but it features in Riordans’ other works within the same universe.
“Part of why The Lightning Thief works so well as a piece of theater is that when you read those books, you want to go to camp and hang out with Percy and the other half-bloods,” explains Tracz. “When you’re seeing the show live, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You feel engaged in a part of that environment, in the way that when you read a really good YA book, you want to be in that place. You want to be at Hogwarts. You want to be at Camp Half-Blood.”
The musical aspect of the adaptation — which was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards — actually came from the book itself, which let The Lightning Thief‘s creators have fun with their settings and the musical genres they were thinking of tapping into.
“The idea in the book is that the underworld is a record company, so for a musical, we got to run with that,” says Tracz. “Cerberus is a DJ with a Daft Punk-style helmet, and Hades [the god of the underworld] has an aging rockstar thing going on. The book actually gave us a lot of gifts that for a musical was stuff we could take and expand upon.”
This expansion let Tracz and Rokicki play with the idea that many dead musicians have ended up in the underworld, allowing them to touch on various genres in the same music number, titled “D.O.A.” (which you can listen to below).
“We did a little Styx joke in there,” says Tracz, laughing about their dual reference to the river that runs through the underworld and the band itself. “If you’re on the river, and you have musical artists who are dead popping up, it felt like we couldn’t shy away from that pun.”
Though the musical has been based in New York City, fans of the books across the globe can still experience Tracz, Rokicki, and the cast’s efforts in the full cast album below. Fans can pre-order it here.