Cursed Child Interview: Gareth Fry on The Magic of Sound

cursed child

Dec 11, 2016

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Comments

Crew Interviews, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Interviews, News

You won’t need extendable ears to catch snippets of inside information on sound design in the theatrical hit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. PSNEurope’s Dave Robinson scored an exclusive interview with veteran sound designer Gareth Fry.

Fry, a long-time professional partner of director and co-author John Tiffany, couldn’t share spoilers, but he was enthusiastic about his involvement in the production. He said:

“I really loved the books, so it was a real privilege to get to read the script and know what happened next before anyone else did. Then we started looking at how we could tell the story. Obviously, there’s a lot of magic in Cursed Child. That’s one of the fun parts: how do you make that magic real for the audience?”

Fry expounded on the challenge of inventing sounds for the magical universe. It’s one thing to find interesting, yet realistic, audio references for an event, object, or animal that already exists; it’s another thing entirely to assign sound that’s both creative and believable to the wizarding world without falling into the rut of the expected, of what’s been done on stage and in film before.

To avoid this, Fry and his associate, Pete Malkin, set self-imposed rules:

“No wind chimes and no ‘whooshes’. We ended up breaking that last rule a few times but it was a good limitation to set when starting out, so everything wasn’t just a ‘whoosh’. But there are no wind chimes! It’s useful to set yourself rules, especially ones to avoid the most obvious route – it makes you work harder and find more interesting ways of doing things.”

Fry was also very aware of the ease with which he could lose the desired quality of the sound if he spent too much time in the studio rather than the theater. Because of this, he maintained a steady presence throughout the rehearsal and preview periods to ensure the sound produced the intended effect. He elaborated:

“If you take it away to work on you can get carried away with what sounds cool, rather than with what sounds right.

But if you construct it there [in the theatre], you can check it relates to the actor’s performance; to the gesture they are making, or the timing of it. Equally as importantly is that it should sound like it is coming from the correct place.”

He went on to describe many of the specifics involved in coordinating the mics, vocal effects, music, and sound effects. But while the sound design was an essential player in the telling the story, Fry did not fail to realize that the strength of the production rests with the characters and the writing that brings them to life.

The interview concluded:

“That is what was always the strongest about the books too – not the magic, but the relationships between those characters. And that’s why people are coming to see it. It’s been an amazing show to be part of, because our audiences come along completely vested in those characters, knowing them inside out. It’s rare for a theatre audience – or any type of audience for that matter – to have such an emotional attachment to what they are watching, and that makes the show far more electric to watch than any show I’ve worked on.”

Clearly, the behind-the-scenes efforts of all involved were extraordinary, casting a spell over devoted fans, new-comers, and critics alike. Read the full interview in the original article here. For reviews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, read the Leaky Cauldron article “Critics Say ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is ‘Charmed'” here.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.