REVIEW: Inlustret Lumine! HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD Re-Opens on Broadway

Dec 08, 2021

Posted by: Gianfranco Lentini

19 Years Later, BigNews, Broadway, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Info, News, Potter News, Review, Theater

“Our journey has only just begun” … again!

The Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has officially reopened, this time as a brand-new one-part play. Returning home to New York City’s Lyric Theatre, this production began previews on November 12th, exactly 20 months since COVID-19 shuttered all Broadway productions on March 12, 2020.

Described as “the 8th Harry Potter story,” Harry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up exactly where the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows left off, 19 years later in King’s Cross Station. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione are seeing their kids, Albus Severus Potter and Rose Granger-Weasley, off on their first year at Hogwarts. Along the way, they meet Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco and Astoria Malfoy, and magic and mayhem commence.

Previously performed as a two-part experience, the Tony-winning play’s runtime used to stand at 5 hours and 15 minutes, with a dinner break. Now, condensed by a masterful reducio charm, the play’s runtime stands at 3 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission. But, shrewd as Potterheads are, does this new, abridged version of Cursed Child pass its N.E.W.T.s, or did it leave us craving a Time Turner of our own?

A note to our readers: spoilers will abound like pixies in this review. If you’ve yet to read or see the play in its entirety, and if you care to preserve your surprise, let me provide you with an easy answer: stop reading and book now. One-part or two, Cursed Child will always be worth the ticket. But if you care for a more nuanced answer: continue reading.

Why the Cut?

When news originally broke over the summer about the abbreviation to all of Cursed Child’s North American productions (Broadway, San Francisco, and Toronto), the biggest question was, of course, Why? Regardless of pre-existing discussions of whether the play is considered “canon” to the original Harry Potter series, why else touch a theatrical property already singularly in possession of the title of “the most awarded play in theatre history”?

In a press release dated June 28, 2021, executive producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender reasoned for the play’s new iteration, citing: “the challenges of remounting and running a two-part show” and “the commercial challenges faced by the theatre and tourism industries emerging from the global shutdowns.”

Understandably, it was uncertain whether there would be a market for Cursed Child to return to at its previously-existing scale. And at the end of the day, Broadway is a business. It does cost more than a few sickles and galleons to operate and financially recoup on a show that is estimated to have cost approximately $68.5 million dollars to bring to life inside the Lyric Theatre. But back to the magic.

Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, the show’s playwright and director respectively, also chimed in, adding: “We’ve been working hard on this new version throughout lockdown, and it’s been a joyous process of rediscovery. It has given us a unique opportunity to look at the play with fresh eyes and we have been inspired by the entire creative team every step of the way.”

Having just witnessed this new one-part version, the joy and inspiration hold true. It is clearer than the glint in Dumbledore’s eye that the Cursed Child team (cast, creative, and crew) has completely given their hearts to re-mounting something still bewitching to behold. The magic feels as fresh as it did on its original opening day, April 22, 2018, and the play itself commands both stunned awe and breathless reverence from an audience of 1500+ theatergoers.

However, as is the inevitable nature of casting a reducio charm of this size, certain elements of this one-part production do suffer. And for those Potterhead-hyphen-thespians who’ve come to love the play in its original form, this may be a tough cauldron cake to swallow.

What Got Cut?

Gone are the nostalgic characters of young Harry Potter, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Hagrid. And with them, obliviated are the number of dream scenes present-day Harry finds himself toiling with.

Undoubtedly, these feel like natural cuts to make when the goal is to shave off two hours from the runtime, but it is these scenes that provide sentiment and weight to Harry’s subversive struggles as a survivor of deep-deep-seated trauma. This perspective is vital in order for us to then feel conflicted between empathizing with The Boy Who Lived and The 37-Year-Old Father Who Constantly Fights With His Son. Removing discussion of Harry’s past makes him seem unreasonably jaded in the present.

Additionally, a number of scenes set in the present also fell victim to being depulso-d. Let it be acknowledged: the downside to having an original script that’s so cohesively crafted must then be regretfully, when asked to scale back, that not all darlings can remain, thus facing the consequences of compromised pacing. Or simply: it’s hard not to feel like you’re watching Cursed Child playing at 1.5x speed.

Because of the cuts made, some key moments that once played as staggeringly monumental now feel slightly underwhelming. There is less time for the characters to live suspended in the moment. Less time for the audience to process collectively. For example, the revelation of Delphini Diggory’s true identity passed so quickly, a smattering of stifled applause suggested a confusion at whether or not the audience could signal their desire to want to know more. Likewise, the entrances (or even the mere mentions) of now-iconic characters–Dumbledore, Snape, Neville, Bellatrix–occurred amidst an unusual silence. Previous experiences while attending the two-part production rang different.

Here is an unofficial list of all the scenes that have either been cut entirely or edited down considerably (listed in order of the original play’s Part/Act/Scene):

1.1.8 – Dream, Hut-on-the-rock
1.1.13 – St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards
1.1.15 – Harry and Ginny Potter’s House, Kitchen
1.2.1 – Dream, Privet Drive, Cupboard Under the Stairs
1.2.2 – Harry and Ginny Potter’s House, Staircase
1.2.3 – Hogwarts, Headmistress’s Office
1.2.11 – Hogwarts, Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom
1.2.14 – Hogwarts, Staircases
1.2.17 – Hogwarts, Staircases

2.3.2 – Hogwarts, Grounds
2.3.3 – Ministry of Magic, Office of the Head of Magical Law Enforcement
2.3.4 – Hogwarts, Library
2.3.12 – Dream, Godric’s Hollow, Graveyard
2.3.13 – Harry and Ginny Potter’s House, Kitchen
2.3.15 – Hogwarts, Slytherin Dormitory
2.3.18 – St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards, Amos’s Room
2.4.1 – Ministry of Magic, Grand Meeting Room
*2.4.13 – Godric’s Hollow, Inside James and Lily Potter’s House, 1981

*This stung personally as it’s my favorite moment in the entirety of Cursed Child.

What Was Added?

Let’s get further nit-picky.

In the two-part Cursed Child production, a dream scene is then often followed by Harry waking to the excruciating pain of his scar hurting. As a substitute then for the cut dream scenes, echoes of Harry’s scar hurting come earlier in the play–while working in his office, while talking with Ginny at home. Those around Harry notice, but he quickly shrugs off the moments. For anyone who’s ever touched the book or film series, we know this to be significant.

Unfortunately, by reducing these moments to a passing thought, the gravity is lost of what this should mean to Harry. It’s been 22 years since his scar has hurt. Be worried, Potter. Instead, Voldemort–or the possibility of his return–feels much less threatening now. We hear less of his voice and feel less of his shadow. We know something wicked this way comes, but the source of wickedness feels more obscure.

Speaking of said wickedness, a line for Harry has been added in which he calls Delphi, “The ultimate Horcrux.” Okay, nerd caps on. … The poetics of this statement is a zinger. But the logic is, as Potterheads know, wrong. In order to create a Horcrux, a person must commit murder, thereby committing the “supreme act of evil,” and then place a piece of their now-torn soul into an object. Voldemort and Bellatrix conceiving Delphi is the opposite of taking a life. It’s giving a life. And had Delphi indeed been a secret Horcrux, Voldemort would have survived the Battle of Hogwarts, no? (I believe it’s safe to assume that having a child does not equate to creating a Horcrux.)

Another line change however does deserve immense praise. After Delphi has revealed her identity to Albus and Scorpius, she rears on Albus about how long it’s taken her to discover his weakness. She begins, as usual, “I thought it was pride, I thought it was the need to impress your father but then I realized your weakness was the same as your father’s.” Here, Delphi typically answers with “friendship.” But this time, the word that greeted our ears like an old friend was “love,” as Delphi then points to Scorpius.

Reader, despite the severity of the moment for Albus and Scorpius, I indeed levitated for a moment. Whatever theory one prescribes to the nature of the relationship between Albus and Scorpius, this mention of “love” is earnest and true. It immediately normalizes the bond these two boys have, and it is reminiscent of the care young Harry and Ron had for each other. (Truly, the smile across my face could not have been bigger. Well done.)

Lastly, pay attention at the beginning of the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament. Our old friends Fleur Delacour and fourth-year Harry Potter make a very brief cameo, and the nostalgia of the moment is a welcomed breath of fresh Scottish air!

In Review.

For those who love the two-part Cursed Child: transitioning to a one-part play feels equivalent to watching a Harry Potter film without the deleted scene. Once you know those scenes exist, it’s hard to just watch the shorter cut. You will always miss what should be there.

For those who are witnessing Cursed Child for the first time: you will be bewitched every step of the way. You will never know what you’re missing (unless you indeed read the play), but you can’t miss what you never had, right?

Ultimately, The Leaky Cauldron will always be proud to say: Welcome home, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The Details.

The Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child currently stars Steve Haggard as Harry Potter, Diane Davis as Ginny Potter, James Romney as Albus Potter, David Abeles as Ron Weasley, Jenny Jules as Hermione Granger, Nadia Brown as Rose Granger-Weasley, Aaron Bartz as Draco Malfoy, and Brady Dalton Richards as Scorpius Malfoy. The company includes: Oge Agulué, Kevin Angulo, Chelsey Arce, Quinn Blades, Michela Cannon, Will Carlyon, Lauren Nicole Cipoletti, Judith Lightfoot Clarke, Ted Deasy, Kira Fath, Stephanie Gomérez, Steve Haggard, Ben Horner, Edward James Hyland, Jax Jackson, Jack Koenig, Spencer LaRue, Rachel Leslie, Sarita Amani Nash, Alexandra Peter, Dan Piering, Kevin Matthew Reyes, William Rhem, Antoinette Robinson, Stephen Spinella, Tom Stephens, Maya Thomas, and Karen Janes Woditsch.

The production features movement by Steven Hoggett, sets by Christine Jones, costumes by Katrina Lindsay, music and arrangements by Imogen Heap, lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Gareth Fry, illusions and magic by Jamie Harrison, and music supervision and arrangements by Martin Lowe. Patricia Dayleg is the director of equity, diversity, and inclusion. U.S. casting is by Jim Carnahan. Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender, and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions serve as producers.

Additional one-part North American performances are set to begin at the Curran in San Francisco on January 11, 2022 and at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto in May 2022. Melbourne, Australia will move to the one-part production beginning March 27, 2022. Other productions around the world will continue to host the original, two-part version: West End, London; Hamburg, Germany; and Tokyo Japan (opening July 8, 2022).

(All photos credited to Matthew Murphy and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.)

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.