June 13, 2016
When cosplay meets regular plays
by Ryan Harrington
The biggest book of this summer may be one that was not exactly intended to be read. It’s the continuation of a beloved series of novels, but it’s a play, based on a story, related to a film franchise, which started as a book. There are legos. There’s a theme park.
It’s Harry Potter!
On July 31st, Scholastic will publish Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, a new play by Jack Thorne based on a story he co-wrote with J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany. For many, this slakes a nine-year drought of Harry Potter Midnight Release Parties—the last ones were for The Deathly Hollows, in 2007 . In a Publishers Weekly article on the growing excitement among booksellers, Judith Rosen reminds us what a bookselling boon, and straight-up cultural force, these parties can be:
Stores like Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., which turned Deathly Hallows into a gigantic block party with neighboring businesses and drew 70,000 attendees, are working to do it again. “It was incredible; it was so fun,” said publicity and events coordinator Candy Purdom. “It was a lot of collaboration with a lot of different people. We had trivia and costume contests. We played Quidditch.” The store has already begun weekly meetings with its downtown association and will block off one street and a parking lot. To date Anderson’s has pre-sold 200 copies. Its stores in Downers Grove and La Grange will also hold parties.
And many of this summer’s parties will have a new, theatrical dimension, with stores like the Voracious Reader in Larchmont, NY using the midnight party to cast a dramatic reading of the play, which will take place the following week.
There have been a few hitches, too. Book World’s Gregg Belonger complained to Rosen that the unorthodox Sunday release makes it impossible for stores located in malls to throw shindigs. And fear of spoilers has some wizards twiddling their beards — as we’ve reported, the stage production opened in previews last week, to much celebration. Still, Scholastic’s 4.5 million-copy initial laydown suggests they’re expecting an excellent sell.
So if you’re looking for a rager, it’s time to get off Tinder—and over to the official Harry Potter party locator.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.