|HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD|
Yes, Virginia, there’s finally some real magic back on Broadway! Fear not, even in its “slimmed-down” one-part version, Jack Thorne’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a continuation of J.K. Rowling’s multi-book saga, still has more than enough swooshing capes, waving wands and pyrotechnic tricks to keep both young ones and older viewers visually entertained. More importantly, though, the now 3 ½-hour play at the gorgeous Lyric Theatre has the sort of emotional heft missing from too many stage dramas.
As was true of the show’s initial go-round in 2018, enormous credit goes to director John Tiffany, movement director Steven Hoggett, set designer Christine Jones, lighting designer Neil Austin and magic and illusions director Jamie Harrison for creating some of the most memorable stage pictures in years. (One moment in particular gives new meaning to the phrase “the writing is on the wall.”)
But what may truly appeal to people of (almost all) ages is not just how well Thorne’s script handles its two overarching themes -- the importance of friendship and the inherent difficulty of any parent-child relationship -- but how sharply these ever-relevant subjects no longer feel dwarfed by the show’s impressive physical production.
As before, they are explored through two interconnected sets of characters: There’s the emotionally troubled, grown-up Harry Potter (an excellent Steve Haggard at my performance) – still struggling with his childhood trauma and teenage “stardom” – along with his spirited wife Ginny (a first-rate Diane Davis), Ginny’s brother and Harry’s bestie Ron Weasley (David Abeles, both amusing and touching), Ron’s no-nonsense wife Hermoine Granger (a rather low-key Jenny Jules), and the quartet’s still-angry “frenemy” Draco Malfoy (a very effective Aaron Bartz).
Meanwhile, tweens, teens and even younger adults are likely to feel more of a spiritual kinship with Thorne’s impressive new creations: specifically, unlikely best friends Albus Potter (an engaging James Romney), who can’t seem to connect with his father Harry, and Draco’s son Scorpius (a superb Brady Dalton Richards), who uneasily lives with both the burden of both his family name and the rumors of uncertain parentage. The pair meet on their first train trip to Hogwarts and almost instantly become inseparable, despite Harry’s often vociferous objections.
But Harry turns out not to be the pair’s biggest problem. Into their orbit comes Delphi Diggery (the splendid Lauren Nicole Ciopletti), who ultimately sets much of the show’s clever if byzantine plot in motion. And while the fact that all eight of these people finally end up in the same room may not be dramatically surprising; how they are allied at that point in time might be.
Those audience members who are already intensely familiar with Rowling’s universe will unquestionably be the bigger beneficiaries of this outing – and will be especially delighted by the appearance of some of Rowling’s most famous characters, including snarky professor Severus Snape (Stephen Spinella, excellent as always), Moaning Myrtle (a hilarious Michela Cannon) and haughty headmistresses Minerva McGonigal and Dolores Umbridge (both brought to full-bodied life by the sublime Karen Janes Woditsch). Still, Thorne provides just enough exposition and back-story so that even viewers with no knowledge of any of these folk won’t be unduly confused by their presence.
So even if you don’t know a Dumbledore from a dumbbell, a visit to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is definitely worth your time!
By Brian Scott Lipton
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David Abeles, Oge Agulué, Kevin Rico Angulo, Chelsey Arce, Aaron Bartz, Quinn Blades, Nadia Brown, Michela Cannon, Will Carlyon, Will Carlyon, Lauren Nicole Cipoletti, Judith Lightfoot Clarke, Diane Davis, Ted Deasy, Kira Fath, Stephanie Gomérez, Steve Haggard, Ben Horner, Edward James Hyland, Jax Jackson, Jenny Jules, Jack Koenig, Spencer LaRue, Rachel Leslie, Sarita Amani Nash, Alexandra Peter, Dan Piering, Kevin Matthew Reyes, William Rhem, Brady Dalton Richards, Antoinette Robinson, James Romney, James Snyder, Stephen Spinella, Tom Stephens, Maya Thomas, Karen Janes Woditsch
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