Harry Potter Is Crossing the Atlantic. Will Magic Follow?

Lyric Theatre in New York City, home of the currently shuttered "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

By Anna Breuer on 27 February 2018
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Not unlike many of our readers, Harry Potter and his family are crossing the Pond. Perhaps uncharacteristically, he’s not boarding a train at Platform 9 3/4 in London’s Kings Cross. Rather, he’s traveling with a somewhat large entourage that includes key members of the original cast of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in the West End.

The play picks up with J.K. Rowling’s beloved characters 19 years after The Deathly Hallows left off, and is scheduled to open April 22.

Indeed, seven original cast members are coming with the show – including Olivier winners Jamie Parker as Harry and Noma Dumezweni as Hermione, as well as Sam Clemmett as Albus, and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius.

A walk by the new entrance of the Lyric Theatre tells part of the story. An eight-month renovation relocated its entrance from a crowded 42nd Street to a much quieter 43rd Street. The glittering marquee, topped off by an owl’s nest, extends across much of the theater’s façade and dominates the block while the theater itself has been downsized from 1,900 seats to 1,500 to make it more intimate. By comparison, the Palace Theatre in London, where the play made its debut, seats 1,300.

“Cursed Child” opens at King’s Cross station as Harry, married to Ginny, sees his middle child, Albus, off to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express. The ensuing story follows Harry’s difficult relationship with his son who, while at Hogwarts, develops a close friendship with Scorpius Malfoy, son of Harry’s enemy Draco Malfoy when he was in school, and it shows how the past weighs heavily on the present.

There are some challenges that await the show, however. None of the actors is a marquee name, and the show’s running time is a challenge at five hours and 15 minutes. The show is staged in two parts, typically seen the same day or on subsequent days. Unlike most family-oriented Broadway offerings, “Cursed Child” is a play, not a musical, although it will compete with everything from “Aladdin” to “Spongebob Squarepants” for this audience.

Based on initial ticket sales, which were sold out within an hour. In London, the show – the only theatrical work in the Pottersphere – earned rave reviews and played to sold-out houses, winning in a record-breaking nine categories in the 2017 Olivier Awards.

Still, “Cursed Child” promises great excitement and magic, in part due to the “#keepthesecret” campaign to maintain the secrecy of the plot, even though the script has been published and already sold five million copies in North America. The magnificent stagecraft keeps the audience enthralled and, as FBT Cultural Editor Blaise Buckley said in his review of the play in London, it’s “fantastically magical.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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