Poster for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Two young wizards stand in front of a stylized clock with fiery wings

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Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The Room Where It Happened: The Lyric Theater in New York City

Let’s Get This Show On the Road

Harry and Ginny Potter’s youngest son, Albus Severus, is not excited about going to Hogwarts. Already living in the shadow of his famous father, he’s not sure how excited he is to attend wizarding school. On the Hogwarts express, he meets Scorpius, Draco Malfoy’s twerpish son, who cannot escape the rumor that his true father is Lord Voldemort. When they are both sorted into Slytherin house, they become friends.

After a couple of years of not fitting in, the pair overhear an elderly Amos Diggory begging Harry, who now works for the ministry, to use a rumored time turner to save the life of his son, Cedric. Deciding to go on an heroic quest, Albus and Scorpio return to the days of the Tri-Wizard Tournament to force Cedric out of the competition. Their forays in time do not go according to plan, and they realize they may have destroyed the very world they were trying to save.

The Room Where It Happened: The Lyric Theater in New York City

With my wife Sandy, and fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophie.

Sign My Playbill

This show could not have been cast better. Albus has that angry, pre-teen, ‘I wish you weren’t my father’ vibe. Scorpius speaks in a shrill, nervous tone, which I initially found annoying but rapidly grew on me.

I especially enjoyed seeing grown up Harry, Ron, Hermione (nicely played by a Black actress), and Draco. No longer the young heroes, their glory days behind them, they’re now trying to figure out where their lives are going. Both Harry and Draco are having trouble relating to their sons, while Ron and Hermione, always bickering, still have that bubbling, under-the-surface passion that characterized their relationship.

In the time travel scenes we get to see old favorites like Snape, Umbrage, McGonagall, and Dumbledore. I was glad they didn’t try to mimic the movie actors, but as they were described in the books.

The Book

The book itself was my least favorite of the series, but it was a play, not a novel. And quite frankly, after Rowling’s anti-trans comments, I wasn’t super excited about supporting one of her works. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still love the old Hogwarts gang, and it was great to see where they ended up, and that their problems now aren’t with a noseless, undead sorcerer.

Incidentally, they pronounce Voldemort’s name in the French manner (silent T), as Rowling originally intended. That kind of threw me.

Setting the Scene

Okay, now this is where things really got impressive. Every time they used a time turner, the entire set became wavy and indistinct. Dementors fly all over the theater. Polyjuice transforms one actor into another without use of smoke and mirrors. Centaurs, ghosts, and the Hogwarts Express. Characters swimming in an actual pool of water. Flying books.

In absence of songs, every character must have had to have learned a dozen stage magic tricks. When Moaning Myrtle began sliding and jumping on top of a bathroom sink, I wanted to shout for her to get down before she fell and hurt herself.

Standing O

This play could have easily surfed by on the fame of the books and movies, or on its impressive special effects. But when you take away the magic and the time travel, we get the story of those Howarts kids who weren’t the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived, The Half-Blood Prince, the Heir of Slytherin, etc. Albus and Scorpio are not their fathers, and they’re happy about that. Hermione and Ron’s daughter, Rose, is a bit of a glory hound. Harry is at loose ends, and Draco, who was windowed at a young age, regrets having followers rather than friends in his youth. For those of us who read the series when we were young, it’s nice to see the characters grew up with us.

The Show Must Go On

And on and on and on. This show was three-and-a-half hours long. No matter how engaging the performance, that takes a toll.

Statler and Waldorf Say…

While I wish I could have avoided funding Rowling, I can’t deny that I’ll forever be a fan of the series. Sophie was reticent for the same reason, but she loved it.

FTC full disclosure: We paid for our own tickets, and received neither money nor chocolate frogs for writing this review.

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Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.