Today I’ve got magic on my mind. The Harry Potter kind. Apparently so does the rest of the world. After seeing this spectacular Harry Potter and the Cursed Child I decided to borrow a book from the Library. I have NEVER seen a book available in so many languages. Some of which I don’t even recognize. But who can blame them? Don’t we all want to take a couple of classes at Hogwarts? Perhaps they have some adult education offerings. And about the owls. Henceforth I want all my mail delivered by a feathered messenger. In addition, I got my eye on a fetching fluffy white owl just like Harry’s. (Apparently there were real owls in the London production until one of them took a left turn when it should have taken a right. Off into the audience it flew.) I want IN.
J.K. Rowling’s writing is masterful. Even though this play was written by Jack Thorne, it has her finger prints all over it. Under the spectacular direction of John Tiffany we are included, indeed, we are beckoned, into the world of witches. As observers only, of course, but that is almost enough.
The story is richly layered, like all Rowling tales. The grown-up Harry Potter (Jamie Parker) is married to Ginny Weasley (Poppy Miller) and still friends with the entire Weasely clan because Ron (Paul Thornley) finally got his act together and married Hermione (Noma Dumezweni). Both Harry and Hermione work at the Ministry for Magic (the same one that threatened to topple Dumbledore years back). Today they are seeing their children off to Hogwarts. Albus Potter (Sam Clemmett) and Rose Granger-Weasley (Susan Heyward) are first year students. Rose, being Hermione’s daughter, is thrilled and full of all the possibilities that lie ahead – like picking the right friends immediately. She relishes the idea that because of her mother she is already someone.
Albus on the other hand is having a not-so-good-very-bad-day. Just the idea of Hogwarts overwhelms Albus. He does not want to be the “Son of Harry Potter.” He does not want to be anything except a hormone filled boy with a wand that should really be licensed. Instead, he stumbles upon another misfit, Scorpius Malfoy (Anthony Boyle). Together they become a team of two misfits. And decide to take the past into their hands.
If certain events in the past are just tweaked, they reason, then the present would be in much better shape. Lives would be saved, etc., etc.
What they don’t count on is ye olde pebble tossed in the lake routine. One event leads to another and pretty soon everything is ass over teakettle with the Dark Lord on the loose and aimed directly at the two mischief makers.
There are some serious twists and turns, of course. But these are almost unnoticeable in the face of the special effects that are on display for our enjoyment. These are not the fancy schmancy special effects, but they are spectacular. They are simplicity itself, made of puppetry magic and lighting that tells us exactly where to look. This far and no further. The shadows are teaming with unseen life that are eager to reach out and touch someone – could even be you if you are in the right seat. The ensemble’s choreographed movements, clean, simple and unrelenting, give the entire production a physical urgency. Even the program tells you what to read and when.
Ultimately this is a tale of family.
A boy who lost his father grew up to be one and has misplaced his parenting manual. Harry must rely on his wife, his friends and his mentors long gone. In the process of recovering each other they also cross paths with the past, and we are touched when the friends (and even a few pests) show up in the flesh.
My friend who attended with me is a Brit and was concerned, lest the American audience was not as hooked on the Potter legend as the Brits. He needn’t have worried. As one witch after another produced sorcery – the audience cheered. As characters we had only read or seen on the silver screen appeared there were gasps of recognition. We were children oohing and ahhing throughout.
And when it came time, after 5 hours of immersion, to say good-bye to these treasured friends (all the principals take their bows en masse) we stood up and cheered farewell, like the crowds used to do when a ship was leaving. If given our druthers we would have put on an invisibility cloak and joined them.
I mean, they do live there, right?
As to the child? As to the curse? I have sipped the potions and am #KeepingTheSecrets safe. As the complimentary pins on your way out request.
Bravo, Brava, Bravastrodamus!
(Photo by Manuel Harlan)
What the popular press says...
"Time is a dangerous toy in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the enthralling two-part play about the later life of its title wizard. Various characters in this deluxe London import find it in their power to journey into the past, which means altering the future, which means serious trouble for everyone."
Ben Brantley for New York Times
"There are more magic wands than you can shake a stick at in the wildly theatrical and thrilling Broadway spectacle Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"The world of Harry Potter has arrived on Broadway, Hogwarts and all, and it is a triumph of theatrical magic."
Adam Feldman for Time Out New York
"Anyone still ready to dismiss Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a cynical brand extension, or a theme-park ride on stage, clearly hasn't experienced the thrilling theatricality, the pulse-pounding storytelling vitality and the unexpected emotional richness of this unmissable two-part production. The ecstatic hype that accompanies the smash London import to Broadway is amply justified, and then some."
David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter
"This is no time for bogus expressions of sophistication. So, let’s just say: Hooray! With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the Boy Who Lived has finally come to Broadway, bringing enchantment to a world that could really use a little magic right now."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...