You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Harry Potter and the Cursory Reviews: New Play Conjures Up Suspense, Magic, Mirth

Enthusiastic reports of a magical night at the theater began streaming in Wednesday after the first performance of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” one of the most highly anticipated productions in London’s West End in years.

Previews began Tuesday at the Palace Theater and will continue for eight weeks until the official opening night of July 30. The play is in two parts, with the inaugural performance of part one on Tuesday evening and the second part set for Thursday.

Audience members took to Twitter to give the play a thumbs-up, with one commenting: “Literally the best live production I have ever seen in my life.” Another wrote: “VERY impressive magic happening on stage. Funny script.”

The first tranche of tickets for the Palace Theater run, which ends May 27, 2017, sold out within 24 hours of going on sale in October – unsurprisingly, given the legions of devoted fans around the world of the boy wizard whose adventures through seven books have also been turned into highly successful films. A spinoff movie, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” is set for release this fall.

In the run-up to the launch of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” Rowling had said that, “as a theatrical experience…it will be unlike anything people have seen before.” She also urged attendees via social media not to reveal plot details, and the hashtag #KeepTheSecrets featured heavily in tweets.

The play, directed by John Tiffany and written by Jack Thorne, is set 19 years after the last novel. Harry is working at the Ministry of Magic, and his son Albus is about to set off for Hogwarts, accompanied by Rose Granger-Weasley, the daughter of Harry’s friends Ron and Hermione, and Scorpius Malfoy, son of his frequent antagonist Draco.

Christine Jones’ stage design is simple: a Gothic arched hallway that serves as the backdrop for multiple locations, including King’s Cross Station, the main hall at Hogwarts, and the corridors of the Ministry of Magic. Old-fashioned traveling trunks are strewn about the stage. Neil Austin’s imaginative use of lighting plays a strong part in creating the atmosphere, while old-fashioned stage effects recreate the wizardry generated by computer effects in the movies.

Signs at the theater warned the audience that the production contained “theatrical smoke and fog effects, pyrotechnics, high-intensity flashing lighting effects,” adding that “the auditorium lighting will be extinguished for short periods of time.”

Initial reaction from audience members suggests that Thorne’s script delivers the humor and plot twists that have made the books beloved of millions of readers worldwide. Many of those in the audience Tuesday evening were Americans. One of the hotly debated questions before the performance was whether Albus would be assigned to Slytherin House instead of Gryffindor when he arrives at Hogwarts.

About a quarter of the 40-strong cast and several leading characters, including Hermione, are from ethnic-minority backgrounds. Rowling called those objecting to the casting of black actress Noma Dumezweni as the grown-up Hermione “a bunch of racists,” and tweeted that “Rowling loves black Hermione.”

Almost inevitably, the production was met with a standing ovation. The only reported mishap during the performance was when a live owl escaped backstage.

More Legit

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “When I read a script, it processes in my head like a [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content