John Tiffany Talks Impact of ‘Cursed Child’ on Theater and Fans

Feb 02, 2017

Posted by: Dawn Johnson

Actor Interviews, Broadway, Christine Jones, Fantastic Beasts Movie, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Honors/Awards, HP Cast, Interviews, John Tiffany, Media, News, Radcliffe, Radcliffe Interviews, Sonia Friedman

Though he’s been working in theater for over 20 years, it took an ambitious play about magic to lift John Tiffany’s name outside the insular walls of the theater community–and the fans and theater are better for it. In an interview with Whats On Stage, Tiffany talks about the impact of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on both.

First, Tiffany revealed he was initially hesitant to take on a production of this magnitude and import. But if one has any familiarity with the Potter fandom, this is a completely understandable and natural reaction. We’ve always been very possessive of JK Rowling, the canon, the characters and, by extension, their unwritten futures. He explained further:

“I suppose [it] was to do with the responsibility of what I knew this meant to theatre. I knew a huge amount of the audience would be first time theatregoers. I wanted to make sure we could deliver something that wasn’t disappointing. I had read those books with my nephews and God-kids and had seen how they connect with the emotional heart of it. I knew that I didn’t want to be the person that made Harry Potter boring. I also knew I would have to call on all my collaborators from over the years. I would need everybody standing with me. It took two years full-time work. But if you’re going to do it for one project, it might as well be this one.”

It was surely a weighty mantle to assume, bringing Harry Potter back to the fans with a new story in a new format and meeting impossible expectations. But Tiffany took the risk, not only because of what it would mean to the fans, but also for the sake of the theater which is his life’s work. He said:

“You spend your life desperately trying to get people into the theatre and then a show like this comes along… We knew it would be popular, but my heart goes: Oh God, I want those people that really want to see it to come. But once we’ve got more productions open around the world, that will alleviate the pressure.”

And he’s right, old and new fans alike have flocked to the stage and made Cursed Child a certifiable success, which virtually guarantees that his dream will come true (a not-so-thinly veiled reference to his upcoming stage adaptation of Pinocchio). As previously reported by Leaky, Cursed Child has already extended its run, so if UK-based fans haven’t seen it yet, there’s still hope! Beyond that, while Fantastic Beasts brought the wizarding world to New York, Leaky revealed that Cursed Child may bring it to Broadway, giving Americans the opportunity to see this remarkable production as well.

Cursed Child has been a hit for a reason, though. From Tiffany’s directing to the set design to the production to the acting, every piece has come together with immaculate precision–and picking up well-deserved awards for it. Sonia Friedman was named Producer of the Year by the UK theater industry’s publication “The Stage Awards.” And, most recently, Leaky covered Cursed Child three Critic’s Circle Award wins: John Tiffany was named Best Director, Christine Jones hailed as Best Designer, and Anthony Boyle (Scorpius Malfoy) won the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

One thing Tiffany failed to consider is that, while the play’s popularity and critical acclaim have seen people everywhere clamoring for tickets, it’s impacted one other notable person quite differently. Dan Radcliffe–Harry Potter, himself–revealed in an Entertainment Weekly interview that, though he’s intrigued by Cursed Child, he hasn’t yet worked out how to see it.

There’s still time though, Dan! Put in a call to Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and have her brew up some Polyjuice Potion. As a lover of theater and stage, it’d be well worth the effort!

For the Leaky review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, read here. For fans of John Tiffany’s work in general, he’s also directing The Glass Menagerie, which runs at Duke of York’s Theatre through April 29th. He expounds on that production in the Whats On Stage interview, which you can read in full 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.