Listen: How ‘The Lightning Thief’ Creators Aim to Diversify Broadway

Gordon Cox

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The Lightning Thief” doesn’t look like most Broadway musicals. And according to its creators, that’s a good thing.

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After all, the musical based on Rick Riordan’s hit series of YA novels can count itself as one of a number of new shows (“Slave Play,” “Be More Chill”) that are braving challenging commercial terrain in an effort to expand everyone’s idea of what can and should become a Broadway show. “It takes some pioneering people behind the scenes to think about it from all ends, and help diversify what we’re putting on the stages,” said director Stephen Brackett on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “And the only way to do it is to keep pushing content on Broadway that pushes at those boundaries, and at what we think of as a Broadway play or a musical. And that [process] is going to be trial and error.”

Brackett, the director of “Be More Chill” as well as Off Broadway hit “A Strange Loop,” appeared on “Stagecraft” alongside his “Lightning Thief” collaborators Rob Rokicki and bookwriter Joe Tracz. All three discussed the show’s roots as a small-scale touring production for young audiences, and how the project’s popularity around the country encouraged producers to expand it and, eventually, bring it to Broadway.

Rokicki said he’s excited that “Lightning Thief” — an action-adventure tale in which mythical gods and monsters are real — is planting a flag for the kinds of stories that aren’t traditionally represented on Broadway. “I’m just thrilled there’s been this sea change, too, in terms of genre,” he said. “There’s room for genres like sci-fi and fantasy, or other stories or underrepresented genres or people or demographics. That’s really exciting to me to maybe be a little part of that.”

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple PodcastsStitcher or anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

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