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Magic Comes to Life on Stage in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

The Broadway spectacle is a treat for any and all "Harry Potter" fans

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Magic Comes to Life on Stage in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Katherine Scott, Writer

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J.K. Rowling’s mystical seven-book series about the hidden wizarding world became an instant global phenomenon when it hit the shelves back in 1997. The story, following a chosen wizard named Harry, captured the hearts and imagination of children and adults across the world. The subsequent films would immortalize Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends forever, leading to a massive theme park, lucrative merchandise, and a permanent spot in book/film history.

It came as little surprise to Harry Potter fans when it was announced that the popular, Boy Who Lived, would take to the stage in April 2018 in a new story titled, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The play, written by playwrights Jack Thorne and John Tiffany in collaboration with Rowling, follows the original trio 19 years later, with the main story revolving around Harry’s son Albus and his friend Scorpius Malfoy as they attempt to change history with a time turner.

The show, which took home a Tony Award for Best Play in 2018, is a massive two-part production with each show lasting about two and a half hours with intermission. Tickets for the production sold out almost immediately, and the price continues to remain high, with some seats costing playgoers $350 per ticket.

I never imagined I would be able to see the show, let alone with the entire original cast, due to its massive popularity and high cost. However, after diligently entering their Broadway lottery every week for 10 months, I finally won the day before my birthday: two tickets, $40 each, in the third row for the show in one week’s time.

The show was nothing short of a masterful spectacle. When you enter the newly renovated Lyric Theatre, you feel as though you’ve stepped into the wizarding world itself. On pure visuals alone, the massive stage boasts trap doors, hidden passageways, giant moving structures, fog, fire, revolving stairs, flying dementors, and even a pool underneath the floor.

As a massive Harry Potter fan myself, I read the script before the show. While I greatly enjoyed it, some parts read like a fan-fiction on a Potterhead’s 2013 Tumblr. Seeing the work performed live, though, immediately put those fears to rest.

Jamie Parker, the West-End actor tasked with portraying the iconic character Harry Potter as a 36-year old father, brings the same boyish and awkward energy we loved in his character throughout the films. His struggle to relate to his son and face the demons of his past, help give Harry the same complexity we found in the novels. Parker’s private moments onstage reliving his younger memories were truly a welcome break from the long storyline.

Anthony Boyle, the 24-year-old breakout actor who plays Scorpius Malfoy, also steals the show with his unparalleled humor, complete physical dedication, and heart-wrenching moments of anger at himself and the world around him.

While the story of Harry’s seemingly unexceptional son Albus and his bookish friend Scorpius is a delight on its own, the visual effects are what made the show truly magical.

Tasked with making the viewer feel as though they are in the wizarding world themselves, the team goes above and beyond expectations. Even seated in the third row, there were no fish wires to be seen, no trap door handles sticking out from the floor. One incredible underwater scene takes the cake as the most visually impressive portion of the show, with the actors flying behind a massive fishbowl-like screen while launching sparkling spells across the water. The show’s huge sequences moved fluidly throughout, and I’m still left wondering how they made the boys transform into adults with the Polyjuice Potion, or how Harry was sucked into a magical portal with no one left in the cloak.

As an avid reader of the novel and a lifelong theater fan, it was truly a dream come true to see this brilliant production with the original cast. Shows on Broadway don’t do two-part shows (unless you’re the iconic “Angels in America”) for a reason: the strain on the actors, not to mention the need for the undivided attention of an audience for 5+ hours, is a massive burden to overcome. However, every moment of this show is worth seeing, and the actors performed with a resilience rarely seen in modern theatre.

To any and all “Harry Potter” fans, I cannot recommend this show enough. Unless you have around $600 though, you may be relying on a miracle to see it. But perhaps with a little persistence and a bit of magic, you may win the lottery too (and bring your favorite “Harry Potter” critic to see the show once again).

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Magic Comes to Life on Stage in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”