Two parts – an afternoon and evening OR consecutive evenings – for Potter fans it’s not an issue. For others, perhaps, a little bit of an endurance test. With that said, this is one of the most magical staging of any show ever to hit Broadway. Parents turn into children right before your eyes. Gravity is not an issue. No strings attached. Really. You won’t see how they do it – and that’s half the fun.
The story is new, not based on a prior novel by J.K. Rowling, although it is a continuation – jumping 17 years into the future. Harry, Hermione and Ron are now grown up and sending their children – Albus (Harry’s second son) and Rose (Hermione and Ron’s daughter) – off to Hogworts. Harry works as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement for the Ministry of Magic, while Hermione is the Minister of Magic. On the way to Hogwarts, Albus makes an unlikely friend in Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry’s former nemesis, Draco. To everyone’s surprise, the Sorting Hat places Albus in Slytherin House – alongside Scorpius – rather than Gryffindor where Harry, Hermione and Ron first become fast friends. The plot moves along quickly to the fourth year at Hogworts, when Harry quarrels with his son Albus creating a rift that only gets resolved at the end of Part Two.
Everything that follows flows from the time Albus and Scorpius use a Time-Turner to travel back in time. Time-Turners first appeared in the third Harry Potter novel, Prisoner of Azkaban, when Hermione used one to attend multiple classes simultaneously. But using a Time-Turner to go back more than five years could alter history. For this reason, and because they could fall into the wrong hands, they became illegal. But as it goes with storytelling, somehow the Ministry of Magic kept a few. Albus and Scorpius not only wind up going back in time but their actions create an alternate reality that threatens the very existence of the world they now live in.
It’s not the story that draws you in, but the characters you know and the special effects that dazzle. They’re more clever than spectacular but, nonetheless, the best I have seen. Including renovations to the theatre, the producers spent $68 million to mount the production. Numbering 40, the cast is large and each performer plays many roles. With turntables revolving on the stage, there is an ongoing sense of motion. Although not a musical, there is music throughout the show and enough movement and dancing to have earned a Tony Award Nomination for Best Choreography. In a way, it’s closer to a top-notch Cirque du Soleil spectacle than a play or musical.
The large theatre and set tends to dwarf the individual actors a bit but several stand out. Noma Dumezweni originated the role of Hermione in London and carries many scenes on what seem like broad shoulders. Jamie Parker (Harry) was also in the original London company and conveys a thoughtful, good dad. Byron Jennings makes the most of his scene as Severus Snape (played memorably by Alan Rickman in the first movie) when he defects from the Death Eaters and movingly sacrifices himself for the greater good.
Harry Potter and Cursed Child is recommend for 10 and up – due to its length and complexity of the story. The Harry Potter books made readers out of many young adults. Perhaps, Cursed Child will make more Broadway theatregoers.
George A. Wachtel is president of Audience Research & Analysis, a New York City-based market research firm specializing in arts and entertainment.
214 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y.
Run time: Part One 2 hours 40 minutes; Part Two: 2 hours 35 minutes; both with 20 minute intermissions
Tickets: 877-250-2929 or harry