Broadway Review: HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD (The Lyric Theatre)

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by Logan Harriott on January 12, 2022

in Theater-New York

A MUST-SEE MARVEL OF MAGIC

Harry Potter, named “The Boy Who Lived” by the wizarding world, is alive and well and back on Broadway at the Lyric after having been shuttered by the evil world of COVID. But behind the scenes, someone’s wand has been reworking the epic two-part play (which had required separate admissions) into a new evening-length version. The story by J.K. Rowling, director John Tiffany and playwright Jack Thorne has been tightened while the production lost none of the splendor. (This same redaction will also play San Francisco’s Curran Theater beginning this week; productions in Melbourne, Australia, London’s West End and Hamburg, Germany will continue in the original two-part format.)

David Abeles as Ron Weasley, Jenny Jules as Hermione Granger, Nadia Brown as Rose Granger-Weasley
Brady Dalton Richards as Scorpius Malfoy and James Romney as Albus Potter

In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it’s 19 years since Deathly Hallows (it may help to be a little Potter-literate for this new compacted script as some backstory was excised). The boy is now a man and, with his loving wife Ginny Potter (née Weasley), rearing three children – Lily, James and the oldest Albus Severus Potter. Harry is also a devoted company man, working at the Ministry of Magic, and seemingly has overcome his tumultuous adolescence and settled into a solid middle-class family life. However, as with all things Potter, none is as it seems. As an adult, Harry is somewhat emotionally shut down and rigid, struggling with fatherhood as much as he did with adolescence. Young Albus, who begrudgingly begins his tenure at Hogwarts at the top of the show, despises his pater and the entire Harry Potter mythos, creating tension at home.

Brady Dalton Richards as Scorpius Malfoy, Michela Cannon as Moaning Myrtle,
and James Romney as Albus Potter

And things aren’t much better for Harry at work. The father of Cedric Diggory — the lad who died during the Tri-Wizard Tournament when Harry and Cedric were Hogwarts students — is now elderly, wheelchair bound and very bitter, blaming Harry for Cedric’s death. Mr. Diggory is especially angry at Harry because rumors abound that the Ministry secretly has a Time Turner, a now outlawed device that allows people to travel through time. Harry denies possession of the illegal instrument and won’t even consider Mr. Diggory’s demand that the Time Turner be used to go back in time and save Cedric’s life. As Mr. Diggory cuttingly tells Harry, “How many people had to die so that ‘The Boy Who Lived’ — could live?”

James Romney as Albus Potter and Brady Dalton Richards as Scorpius Malfoy

Thus, the two themes of the parent/child relationship and the next generation questioning the previous are the main thrusts that take the audience through this wondrous journey. The show is vibrant, spirited and operates by centrifugal force. Mr. Tiffany’s ingenious, acute staging, Steven Hoggett’s ingenious choreography, and Jamie Harrison’s illusions swirl the story to life, using stupefying theatrical imagination and clever film techniques (the lush score is by Imogen Heap) to birth this hybrid spectacle. And the magic is all there: wands fire; students are sorted; people transform; dementors fly; huge staircases shift; paintings talk; Voldemort stalks; and we all travel through time. And travel through time. And travel through time.

James Romney as Albus Potter, Brady Dalton Richards as Scorpius Malfoy and company

Harry (Steve Haggard), Hermione (Jenny Jules), Ron (David Abeles), Draco (Aaron Bartz) and Ginny (Diane Davis) are all present and wonderfully played as adults, with the adult Draco now being much hunkier and nicer than expected from his teenage incarnation. However, it’s two of their children — the headstrong Albus (James Romney) and Draco’s anxious, geeky son Scorpius (Brady Dalton Richards) — who lead the story as Albus takes it upon himself to right the wrongful death of Cedric Diggory, thus proving that his famous father wasn’t so great after all. Scorpius is a new character and Albus’s best friend at Hogwarts. Mr. Romney and Mr. Dalton play well off each other and are very believable as best friends who not only need but love each other. In Mr. Richards’ highly engaging, funny and touching performance, Scorpius becomes a surprising emotional center of the play and he is missed when not onstage.

Brady Dalton Richards as Scorpius Malfoy with the Dementors
Lauren Nicole Cipoletti as Delphi, Brady Dalton Richards as Scorpius Malfoy,
and James Romney as Albus Potter

While perhaps a but long for the little ones at 280 minutes, ages eight and above will have no problem staying focused and enjoying the proceedings. And the deeper themes of family, loss, love and acceptance should prove thought-provoking for adults. Ultimately, it is the transformed theater and jaw-dropping, extraordinarily powerful theatrical forces — seemingly from a supernatural source — that put the wizarding cap on this must-see marvel of magic.

Edward James Hyland as Albus Dumbledore

photos by Matthew Murphy

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
214 West 43rd Street in Manhattan
open run
for tickets, visit harrypottertheplay.com

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