BY ELYSE TREVERS
I’m sworn to secrecy. So is the rest of the audience who sees “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Part One and Part Two.” The blockbuster, award-winning hit from England is Book Eight of the famous Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. But this is what I can tell you.
“…The Cursed Child” begins 19 years later when the three young heroes are older, established and have families. Ron and Hermione are married with one child. Harry and Ginny, Harry’s sister, have three children. The play begins with Harry’s youngest Albus Severus (named after Dumbledore and Snape) about to begin his schooling at Hogwarts. Insecure and anxious, Albus only manages to make one friend. Ironically, he is Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry’s school foe, Draco.
Like the other stories, “The Cursed Child” is more than just a tale of wizards, magic and spells; it’s a story about friendships and families, bravery and risks. Albus and Harry have a difficult relationship; Albus resents his father’s fame because he fears not being able to live up to him. Harry doesn’t know how to handle his troubled son. Albus’ fears seem confirmed when the Sorting Hat puts him in Slytherin House instead of Gryffindor, his father’s old dorm.
Scorpius is not evil or menacing and he, too, lives under the shadow of a family name. But his situation is even worse. There’s a rumor that Scorpius is actually Voldemort’s child. The two boys bond in their loneliness and they make a good pair. Scorpius is nerdy and knowledgeable, a bit timid and not brave while Albus is more daring. The two go out to prove that they are more than their fathers’ sons and get into some trouble along the way. But given they are wizards, it’s not ordinary trouble. Theirs involved dark magic and magic spells and potions.
The entire Lyric Theatre has been renovated both inside and out, the most expensive renovation ever for a non-musical. The entire theater is used and even the spacious lobby is transformed to match the themes and setting of the play. The audience is immersed in the world of Harry and the wizards.
There are old villains, new villains; special effects that will make you scratch your head (how did they do that?) The wizards use transformation. levitation, illumination and just plain brilliant theater magic!
The original English cast has come to recreate the play in the US. Jamie Parker is sincere and earnest as Harry. Both “boys” are played by actors in their mid-twenties but are still believable as teens. Young Albus (Sam Clemmett) is obviously having growing pains, especially as he fights with his father, a situation easily recognizable to the young in the audience. A fan favorite, Scorpius ( Anthony Boyle ) is bullied and excluded . Yet he manages to be a warm, funny character. His unusual voice quality (is it nerves or is his voice changing?) makes his humor seems even funnier.
Based upon an original story by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, the lengthy play runs 2 hour 40 minutes for Part One and 2 hours 35 minutes for Part Two. I saw both parts the same day, the matinee followed by the evening performance. Others might choose see it two nights in a row.
I am a casual fan, having read everything Rowling’s written and seen all the movies, yet I can’t quote line and verse and cite minute details like some of the true “Potterheads”. The Playbill offers several definitions and explanations, but the ones who really know the material well are the ones who “oohed” and “ahhed” and gasped in recognition at familiar references.
Our audience was filled with fans of all ages, some of them sporting Hogwarts robes and distinctive scarves of house colors. The real question is whether you can truly enjoy “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child” if you haven’t read the books or seen the movies? Definitely! Just go with it.
The play won nine trophies at the 2017 Olivier Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Tonys. Among them were best new play, direction, set design, theater technology lighting, sound and costumes. Undoubtedly the show will have similar success in the US with the Tonys and other theater awards.
“Cursed Child” is sure to be a mega hit in the US. It has already has set a new record at the Broadway box office for the highest single-week gross reported by a nonmusical in Broadway history and that is even with 300 tickets per performance going for $40 or less.
All the children who read the books when they first came out are now adults with children of their own. That’s a big audience You wanna know the secrets? First you have to see “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.”