June 9, 2016
All aboard the Hogwarts Express! Harry Potter is back…
by Nikki Griffiths
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the long-awaited stage play that will continue J.K. Rowling’s hugely popular, seven-book Harry Potter franchise, previewed this week at London’s Palace Theatre, and has been declared a resounding success.
The play, written by Jack Thorne, is set nineteen years after the last novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is based on an original story by Rowling, Thorne, and director John Tiffany.
Speaking recently to Rowling’s Harry Potter fan site The Pottermore Correspondent, Tiffany said, “I’m conscious of bringing the fans what they love, doing this story justice and exploring the psychology of a grown up Harry Potter with the same epic sweep as the books and the films, but in a different way.” Later, he added, “I knew from seeing the excitement in the kids I’d shared the books with that we had to bring darkness back. There had to be new jeopardy.”
The production’s official website briefly describes the play’s plot, although twists and turns are being kept firmly under wraps, with preview attendees being given #keepthesecrets badges as they left the theatre last night.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Casting has not been without controversy. Some fans have taken issue with the decision to cast a black actress, Swaziland-born Noma Dumezweni, as the adult Hermione Granger, portrayed by Emma Watson in the film series. Rowling made her own position clear:
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione 😘 https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015
Dominic Cavendish reports at the Telegraph that ticket sales have been record-breaking, with the first 175,000 selling out within twenty-four hours of their going on sale back in October. And the verdict so far from those lucky few who have seen the preview?
“Spells and hexes combined with laughs and drama mean Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be every bit the hit everyone expects,” writes The Mirror’s Clare Fitzsimons. Hannah Furness of the Telegraph is similarly positive, reporting, “The audience came wanting magic and they got in spades,” while the New York Times notes that “the three main characters remained true to their younger selves,” and declares that “the audience at the Palace Theater here cannot be more thrilled or more appreciative or more ready to be caught up in the spirit of the undertaking.”
Fans also took to Twitter in droves, sharing their emotional responses:
I just saw the best thing I’ve ever witnessed on stage, I would pay the full price of a ticket just to experience that one bit again — Aislinn (@Ginger_Pig) June 7, 2016
There is nowhere else I would rather be right now. This is everything #keepthesecrets #cursedchild
— Melinda Salisbury (@AHintofMystery) June 7, 2016
The production will open at the Palace Theatre at the end of July. The play is written and staged in two parts, intended to be seen on the same day or two consecutive evenings.
A book version of the script is set to be published on July 31, which is both Rowling’s and Harry Potter’s birthday.
Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.