Brit Parody Duo Bring Hogwarts to Chicago; POTTED POTTER Now Playing Through 12/23
In POTTED POTTER, comedic duo Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner break down the 4,224 pages of the Harry Potter saga, the 20 hours of film, and the childhood of generation Y into a concise parody running at 70 minutes - complete with quidditch, props, offbeat songs, and every beloved character in the wizarding world.
“It’s a little bit of organized chaos,” Clarkson, the man who plays 320 characters in POTTER, said of the show which has just opened for previews this week at Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse.
POTTED POTTER began when Clarkson was approached to create an event for the midnight release of the sixth book in London, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” His solution: pack all five books into five minutes. And so he did, recruiting Turner, who was busking around Covent Garden, along the way. With expectations of fifty people at the launch, the duo ended up playing for a thousand. Since then, POTTED POTTER has expanded all seven books into 70 minutes, and has played in London, Manila, New York City, and is currently touring Canada and the US.
“We’re not funny very often,” said Turner. “The fact that we’ve written a 70-minute show that’s funny is something we’re quite surprised about.”
Clarkson and Turner were both well aware of the danger in entering parody territory with something as iconic as the world of Harry Potter. Luckily, Clarkson was already a super fan – and Turner soon would be, finishing the first five books in a week.
“Fans are so protective, if we were just up there making fun of it and not respecting it, we wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes,” Turner said, who plays Harry Potter himself in the show. “They’re letting us get away with it and enjoy it. You don’t want to upset super fans - they can get quite nasty.”
This isn’t a Harry Potter knock-off, the duo stress – though it is billed as “unofficial” – this is the potent fix for any Harry Potter junkie on their “road to recovery,” according to Clarkson.
Even the muggles in the audience can enjoy the show, the pair say. A muggle: those not born with wizard blood - or in this context, those who fit in the rare sect of society who don’t know a Hufflepuff from a Gryffindor.
“After a show, one of the dads in the audience came up and thanked me,” Clarkson said. “He finally understood what his daughters were talking about at the dinner table - and realized that ‘snitch’ isn’t a bad word.”
A snitch is actually the flittering golden ball - the prime target - in the fictional sport of quidditch.
But after over 1,300 performances, Clarkson and Turner work to keep the material fresh - not limiting themselves only to the world of the bespectacled boy wizard.
“Any time something enters pop culture, we try to work it in,” Turner said. “We have Twilight and Justin Bieber come in [to the show] - we try to bring in these sort of huge sensations.”
“You just said Justin Bieber is a huge sensation,” Clarkson said.
“He was. And then the world learned.”
Luckily for Dan and Jeff, the world hasn’t abandoned Potter, and the pair haven’t had to abandon their signature humor that made POTTED POTTER such a success.
“We have a certain unique British humor,” Clarkson said. “We were worried when we first came to America that we would have to make changes. But we haven’t had to change much, if anything.”
No, between the Off-Broadway run and sold-out stops across the states, the duo have done just fine with their humor making the transition.
“North American audiences are more vocal, they’re louder. You get whooping, cheering, people shouting stuff out and wanting to join in and it’s been great to have that,” he said.
And until December 23, Chicago audiences can don their robes and their invisibility cloaks, wand in hand, and get their Potter fix at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.
Tickets for POTTED POTTER at the Broadway Playhouse range from $39.75-$69.75. A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices, the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Kiosk at Water Tower Place, the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations (including Hot Tix and select Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts and fye stores), and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.