Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part stage play written by Jack Thorne based on an original new story by Thorne, J. K. Rowling and John Tiffany.[1] Previews of the play began at the Palace Theatre, London on 7 June 2016,[2] and it officially premiered on 30 July 2016.

In September 2017, it will start playing at Broadway, in the Lyric Theatre in New York. Its cast will be made up of a similar one to the first year on West-End, with actors including Sam Clemmett, Jamie Parker, Anthony Boyle, Noma Dumezweni and Paul Thornley.

The rehearsal script, which was not a novelisation of the play,[3] was published.

The story begins nineteen years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and follows Harry Potter, now a Ministry of Magic employee, and his younger son Albus Severus Potter, who is about to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

At the 2017 Laurence Olivier Awards, the London production received a record-breaking eleven nominations and an again record-breaking nine awards, including Best New Play, Best Actor, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Director.

Plot

The play’s official summary was released by the publisher (Pottermore) on 23 October 2015:[4]
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Part One

Act 1

In the opening scene, set during the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2017, Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley send their second son, Albus Severus Potter, on the Hogwarts Express to begin his first year at Hogwarts. Harry is now working in a desk job as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic, while Ginny is the editor of the sports section of the Daily Prophet. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger also send their daughter Rose Granger-Weasley, on the train. Hermione is now Minister for Magic, while Ron manages Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. Albus makes an unlikely friend in Slytherin with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry’s former enemy Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass. Surprisingly, Albus is sorted into Slytherin house alongside Scorpius, as all Potters before him were sorted into Gryffindor. Both boys are bullied by other students over the next few years, Albus due to his perceived failure to live up to his parents, Scorpius due to unproven rumours that he is the son of Lord Voldemort. In addition, Albus and Harry begin to drift apart, owing to Albus’s struggles with his father’s shadow, and Harry’s uncertainty on how to deal with his son’s issues. Albus also drifts apart from Rose, who he was friends with before meeting Scorpius. Prior to Albus and Scorpius’s fourth year, Albus gets into a fight with his father after he is given Harry’s baby blanket and a love potion from Ron. During the fight, Harry accidentally says that he does not love Albus, and Albus spills the potion on the blanket.

Harry obtains a prototype of a more powerful version of the Time Turner that allows one to travel back several years into the past, and change history. Simultaneously, Harry’s scar begins to hurt again, causing him to become concerned that Voldemort may somehow be returning. Amos Diggory, who has become old and is cared for by his niece Delphi Diggory, asks Harry to use the Time Turner to prevent Cedric Diggory’s death. After overhearing Harry refuse to help the Diggorys, Albus is inspired to do so himself, and convinces Scorpius to help him. The two escape from the Hogwarts Express and the trolly operator, who is revealed to a be a monster placed on the train to prevent students from escaping. The two arrive at St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards in Yorkshire, where Amos lives, and team up with Delphi to steal the Time Turner from Hermione’s office while disguised with Polyjuice Potion.

Act 2

Knowing that Cedric’s death was the result of him winning the Triwizard Tournament alongside Harry, the boys use the Time Turner to travel back to the first challenge of the Triwizard Tournament in 1995, and sabotage Cedric during the tournament’s first task in the hope of preventing his victory. Instead, they only succeed in creating an alternate reality in which Albus was sorted into Gryffindor, and Ron Weasley and Hermione never got together, and thus Rose was never born. Albus discovers that this was because they chose to disguise themselves as Durmstrang students, causing Hermione to become suspicious of Viktor Krum and go to the Yule Ball with Ron instead of Viktor. As a result, Ron never experienced the jealousy fundamental to his relationship with Hermione, fell in love with Padma Patil at the Ball, and eventually became married to her, having a son named Panju. Hermione, in turn, became a frustrated and mean professor at Hogwarts.

At around the same time, Harry’s fear that Voldemort may return increases as his scar continues to hurt and as he has Voldemort-related nightmares. After speaking with a portrait of Dumbledore, he becomes convinced that Scorpius is a threat to Albus and tries to have the boys kept apart at Hogwarts by forcing McGonagall to keep tabs on Albus using the Marauders’ Map. Albus and Scorpius’s friendship is destroyed, but the two eventually reconcile after Albus steals Harry’s old Invisibility Cloak from James, and after McGonagall refuses to enforce Harry’s request. Harry himself is persuaded to relent after a conversation with Draco and Ginny. Meanwhile, Albus and Scorpius decide to make another attempt to use the Time Turner to change Cedric’s fate, this time by humiliating him during the Triwizard Tournament’s second task. When Scorpius returns to the present day however, Albus is not with him, and Scorpius finds himself in a reality in which Harry is dead and Voldemort rules the wizarding world.

Part Two

Act 3

Scorpius discovers that as a result of his actions, an embittered Cedric joined the Death Eaters and killed Neville Longbottom during the events of Deathly Hallows, preventing him from killing Nagini and allowing Voldemort to win the Battle of Hogwarts. With Harry now dead, Albus subsequently never existed, while Voldemort was able to completely consolidate power and transform the Ministry of Magic into a fascist regime. In the new timeline, Scorpius became a popular Head Boy and Quidditch star, helping the staff and students torment Muggle-borns. Dolores Umbridge became the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, and patrols the school with Dementors and a revived Inquisitorial Squad lead by Scorpius. Draco Malfoy occupies Harry’s old position as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, using his post to encourage routine attacks on Muggles and bribe the Prime Minister to remain silent on the actions of the Death Eaters. With help from Ron, Hermione and Severus Snape, now the final members of a dwindling anti-Voldemort resistance movement, Scorpius is able to use the Time Turner to prevent the interference of Albus and his past self and restore the events of the original timeline, the alternate Ron, Hermione and Snape sacrificing themselves to the Dementors in order to allow him to do so. Scorpius reunites with Albus, and the two boys are eventually found by their parents, as well as Ron and Hermione. Following these events, Harry scolds Albus for his actions, but the two nevertheless begin to reconcile.

Recognising the danger that the Time Turner poses, and deciding that their parents will continue to keep it, Scorpius and Albus attempt to destroy it themselves, but they are joined by Delphi. Scorpius realizes that Delphi was in charge of the Ministry of Magic in the alternate timeline, and she takes them captive, later revealing her intention of restoring the alternate timeline. After the adults learn that Albus and Scorpius were seen disappearing with Delphi, they confront Amos, only to discover that Delphi is not his niece, but the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. Searching her room, they discover that she is following a prophecy that, if fulfilled, would lead to Voldemort’s return. Delphi takes the boys to the final challenge of the Triwizard Tournament, but Albus and Scorpius prevent her from acting, and Delphi uses the Time Turner to travel further back in time. She inadvertently takes the boys with her, and destroys the Time Turner to leave them stranded in time.

Act 4

Abandoned by Delphi, Albus and Scorpius discover that they have been taken back to the night Harry’s parents were killed, and assume that Delphi is planning to kill Harry before Voldemort can do so. Albus and Scorpius write an invisible message on Harry’s baby blanket, knowing that in their present, the blanket would become stained with love potion and expose the message to Harry. Meanwhile, in the present, Draco reveals that the Time-Turner was actually a prototype for a perfected model owned by him, but they remain unable to rescue the boys due to their uncertainty over which time period they have entered. After Harry receives the message from the boys, he and his allies use Draco’s Time Turner to travel back in time to save them and stop Delphi. While waiting for Delphi, they deduce that she intends to convince Voldemort to abandon his doomed attempt to kill Harry, ensuring her father’s survival and allowing her to be with him.

Harry disguises himself as Voldemort using Transfiguration to distract Delphi, and the group subdues her. They allow the murder of Harry’s parents to play out, unwilling to risk the consequences of altering the past. After returning to the present day, Delphi is sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban Prison. Albus and Scorpius now decide to be more active at Hogwarts, with Scorpius expressing interest in trying out for Quidditch and asking Rose on a date. Harry and Albus visit Cedric’s grave, with Harry apologising for his role in Cedric’s death.


Background

In December 2013, it was revealed that a stage play based on Harry Potter had been in development for around a year,[5] with the view to bringing it to the stage sometime in 2016.[6] At the time of the announcement, Rowling revealed that the play would “explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast”.[7] The following May, Rowling began establishing the creative team for the project.[8]

On 26 June 2015, the project was officially confirmed under the title of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,[9] and it was revealed it would receive its world premiere in mid-2016 at London’s Palace Theatre.[10] The announcement marked the eighteenth anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,[11] published on 26 June 1997.[12]

On announcing plans for the project, Rowling stated that the play would not be a prequel.[13] In response to queries regarding the choice of a play rather than a new novel, Rowling has stated that she “is confident that when audiences see the play they will agree that it is the only proper medium for the story”.[14] Rowling has also assured audiences that the play will contain an entirely new story and will not be a rehashing of previously explored content.[15] On 24 September 2015, Rowling announced that the play had been split into two parts.[16] The parts are designed to be viewed on the same day or consecutively over two evenings.[17][18]

On 23 October, it was confirmed the plays were set nineteen years after the conclusion of the final novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,[19] and would open at London’s Palace Theatre in July 2016.[20] The plays principally follow Harry, now Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and his younger son Albus Severus Potter.[21] As of 22 July, little more had been revealed about the plot even by those who had attended the previews since 7 June.[22]

Production

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a two-part play, was written by British playwright Jack Thorne based on an original story by Thorne, John Tiffany and Rowling. Some websites were listing all three as authors of the script[23] but by 26 July 2016, the official web site for the play [24] and many others (including the BBC)[25] were listing Thorne as the sole script writer.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is directed by John Tiffany[26][27] with choreography by Steven Hoggett,[28] set design by Christine Jones,[29] costume design by Katrina Lindsay,[30] lighting design by Neil Austin,[31] music by Imogen Heap,[32] and sound design by Gareth Fry.[33] In addition, special effects were created by Jeremy Chernick,[34] with illusions by Jamie Harrison, and musical supervision by Martin Lowe.[35]

Previews at the West End Palace Theatre, London began on 7 June 2016,[2] with the official opening night for both parts on 30 July,[36] and originally booking until 18 September 2016.[37] Tickets went on sale to pre-registered priority bookers on 28 October 2015, with a public sale scheduled to commence on 30 October.[38] In just under 8 hours of priority booking 175,000 tickets were sold for the world premiere production,[39] with the play’s booking period extended to January 2017.[40] On commencement of the public sale booking was extended until 30 April 2017,[41] with a further extension issued the same day to 27 May 2017.[42] At opening tickets were priced from £30 up to £130 for a ticket for both parts,[43] although ticket resale agencies were selling seats for up to £3,000.[39] Ticket resale has been banned by the producers, with tickets no longer valid if sold on.[44] In mid-July 2016, the theatre began holding a ticket lottery at 1pm each Friday, releasing 40 for sale on their website for ‘some of the best seats’ in the theatre for the lowest price, advertised at £20 per part. For example, the “Friday Forty” tickets sold on 29 July 2016 were for performances on 3, 5, 6 and 7 August.[45]

The plays are recommended for ages 12 and up.[46] On 20 December 2015, initial casting was announced with Jamie Parker playing Harry Potter, Noma Dumezweni playing Hermione Granger and Paul Thornley playing Ron Weasley.[47][48][49] The casting of the dark-skinned Noma Dumezweni as Hermione sparked fervent discussion, to which Rowling responded that Hermione’s skin was never specified as white.[50][51] Further notable casting includes Poppy Miller as Ginny Potter and Sam Clemmett as Albus Severus Potter.[52] The production features an overall cast of 42.[53][54]

Deadline reported on 4 May 2017 that the play will open on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre with an opening date of 22 April 2018, with many of the cast, including Clemmett, Boyle, Dumezweni, Parker, Thornley and Miller reprising their roles. [55]

Original Cast and Principal Roles

Character Original West End Cast[56]
(2016) Original Broadway Cast[57]
(2018) Current West End Cast[58]
(2017-2018) Harry Potter Jamie Parker Jamie Glover Ron Weasley Paul Thornley Thomas Aldridge Hermione Granger Noma Dumezweni Rakie Ayola Ginny Potter Poppy Miller Emma Lowndes Draco Malfoy Alex Price James Howard Albus Severus Potter Sam Clemmett Theo Ancient Scorpius Malfoy Anthony Boyle Samuel Blenkin Rose Granger-Weasley Cherrelle Skeete Helen Aluko Young Hermione Delphi Diggory Esther Smith Annabel Baldwin Craig Bowker Jr. Jeremy Ang Jones James Phoon Moaning Myrtle Annabel Baldwin April Hughes Lily Potter Sr. Polly Chapman Claudia Grant Sara Miele Vernon Dursley Paul Bentall David Annen Severus Snape Lord Voldemort Rubeus Hagrid Chris Jarman Mark Theodore Sorting Hat Yann Fredericks James Le Lacheur Henry Rundle Petunia Dursley Helena Lymbery Elizabeth Hill Madam Hooch Dolores Umbridge Amos Diggory Barry McCarthy Barry McCarthy Albus Dumbledore Trolley Witch Sandy McDade Sandy McDade Minerva McGonagall Cedric Diggory Tom Milligan Rupert Henderson James Sirius Potter James Potter Sr. Dudley Dursley Jack North Tom Mackley Karl Jenkins Viktor Krum Henry Rundle Bane Nuno Silva Nuno Silva Young Harry Potter Rudi Goodman
Alfred Jones
Bili Keogh
Ewan Rutherford
Nathaniel Smith
Dylan Standen Jabez Cheeseman
Alfred Jones
Harrison Noble
Ben Roberts Lily Luna Potter Zoe Brough
Cristina Fray
Christiana Hutchings Phoebe Austen
Esme Grace
Hope Sizer

Notable West End Cast Replacements

Jamie Glover is to take over from Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, while Emma Lowndes will play his wife Ginny Potter. Thomas Aldridge is to play Ron Weasley, replacing Paul Thornley, while Rakie Ayola will play Hermione Granger, replacing Noma Dumezweni. Annabel Baldwin, previously playing Moaning Myrtle will take over from Esther Smith as Delphi.

Original cast members Helen Aluko and James Howard will play Rose Granger-Weasley and Draco Malfoy respectively. Samuel Blenkin and Theo Ancient – making their professional debut – will play Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter, respectively.

The lead cast are joined by new cast members David Annen, Ruthxjiah Bellenea, Danny Dalton, Leah Haile, Rupert Henderson, Elizabeth Hill, April Hughes, James McGregor, Sarah Miele, Jordan Paris, James Phoon, Henry Rundle, Ged Simmons, Mark Theodore, Gideon Turner and Ed White.

Original cast members who will continue include Nicola Alexis, Rosemary Annabella, Phoebe Austen, Annabel Baldwin, Jabez Cheeseman, Morag Cross, Esme Grace, Lowri James, Martin Johnston, Alfred Jones, Barry McCarthy, Sandy McDade, Tom Mackley, Harrison Noble, Ben Roberts, Nuno Silva, Hope Sizer and Joshua Wyatt.

The new cast took over on 24 May, with the original cast having their final performance on 21 May.[59]

Script publication

Editions

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Special Rehearsal Edition Book Cover.jpg

Special Rehearsal Edition cover
Author Jack Thorne (script)
J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne (story)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Harry Potter
Release number
8th in series
Genre Fantasy, Drama
Published 31 July 2016 (Special Rehearsal Edition)
Publisher
  • Little, Brown and Company (UK)
  • Scholastic (US)
  • Pottermore (digital)
Publication date
31 July 2016
Pages 320 (Special Rehearsal Edition)
ISBN 978-1-338-09913-3 (US); 978-0-7515-6535-5 (UK)
Preceded by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Both parts of the stage play’s script have been released in print and digital formats as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II.[60][61]

The first edition, entitled “Special Rehearsal Edition”, corresponded to the script used in the preview shows and was scheduled to be published on 31 July 2016,[62] the date of Harry’s birthday in the series and Rowling’s birthday, as well.[63] Since revisions to the script continued after the book was printed, an edited version was released on 25 July 2017, as the “Definitive Collector’s Edition”.[64] According to CNN, this was the most preordered book of 2016.[65]

Sales

In the United States and Canada, the book sold over 2 million copies in its first two days of release.[66] 847,885 copies were sold during the book’s first week of release in the United Kingdom. By June 2017, the book had sold over 4.5 million copies in the United States.[67]

Critical Reception

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has received positive reviews from critics. Audiences and critics have complimented the casting and performances, while many debate the quality of the piece and how it compares to entries in the main Harry Potter series.

Publications awarding five star ratings included The Independent, the London Evening Standard, The Stage and WhatsOnStage.com.[68][69][70][71] The Telegraph also gave five, although “there are some quibbles,” while The Guardian’s Michael Billington awarded four stars.[72][73]

Anthony Boyle’s performance as Scorpius Malfoy garnered particular acclaim. WhatsOnStage.com wrote that “Boyle gives a career-making performance,” while The Wall Street Journal described him as “the break-out performance.”[71][74] Variety‘s critic, Matt Trueman, agreed, writing, “it’s Boyle who really stands out”, and both Trueman and Henry Hitchings, in the Evening Standard, noted that his performance was sure to be a fan favourite.[69][75]

Response within the Harry Potter Fandom

Reviews within the fandom were mixed. Some fans claim that the story diverged from previously established rules of the universe, criticizing the play’s characterization.[76] Some also took issue with the style and plot of the play. [77] These criticisms have led some of the fandom to reject the play as separate from the Potter canon.[78] This despite the fact that J. K. Rowling has explicitly stated that the play is canon.[79]

However, other fans responded positively to the play and its characters, with Scorpius Malfoy being particularly popular.[80] Notably, the published script was voted Best Fantasy in Good Reads Choice Awards 2016.[81] Some fans commented that the dialogue between the familiar characters was “spot on.”[82] Others celebrated it as a faithful continuation of the books.[83][84]Others have noted that the play sheds light on some of the relationships between the characters, such as Harry and Dumbledore’s.[85] The response had been particularly positive among fans who watched the play on stage,[86] and large fandom communities have emerged specifically to celebrate and discuss the play.[87]

Awards and Nominations

Original London Production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2016 Evening Standard Theatre Awards Best Play Won
Best Director John Tiffany Nominated
Best Design Christine Jones Nominated
Emerging Talent Award Anthony Boyle Nominated
Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards Best Director John Tiffany Won
Best Designer Christine Jones Won
Most Promising Newcomer Anthony Boyle Won
2017 WhatsOnStage Awards Best New Play Won
Best Actor in a Play Jamie Parker Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Play Anthony Boyle Won
Paul Thornley Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Play Poppy Miller Nominated
Noma Dumezweni Won
Best Direction John Tiffany Won
Best Costume Design Katrina Lindsay Nominated
Best Set Design Christine Jones Won
Best Lighting Design Neil Austin Won
Best Video Design Finn Ross and Ash Woodward Won
Laurence Olivier Awards Best New Play Won
Best Director John Tiffany Won
Best Actor Jamie Parker Won
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Noma Dumezweni Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Anthony Boyle Won
Best Costume Design Christine Jones Won
Best Set Design Katrina Lindsay Won
Best Sound Design Gareth Fry Won
Best Lighting Design Neil Austin Won
Best Theatre Choreographer Steven Hoggett Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music Imogen Heap Nominated

References

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External Links

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne JK Rowling