BWW Reviews: POTTED POTTER Perfect Family Summer Show
Summers away from Hogwarts might have been rough on Harry Potter, but Potter fans can celebrate this summer with the return of Potted Potter - The Unauthorized Harry Experience - A Parody by Dan and Jeff to the Little Shubert Theater after its New York premiere last year. For die-hard Potterphiles, this is a wonderfully giddy little show that should not be missed before they pack their trunks to head back to Hogwarts on September 1st (or before the show hits the road for an American tour).
Potted Potter parodies the seven Harry Potter books in a condensed or "potted" 70 minutes using sparse and zany set, props, and costumes and only two very talented comedic Brits. All the characters are portrayed by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, or at certain performances, Delme Thomas and James Percy, whom I saw. The show began as the brainchild of Clarkson and Turner as entertainment for people waiting in line for one of the book premieres. It has evolved into a rollicking romp of a show that seemed to be a gut-busting mega-hit with the mid-to-late elementary-schoolers but attracts Potter fans from young to Dumbledore-aged.
The J-named fellows (Jeff or James) portray the straight man to the D-named guys (Dan or Delme) who are the funny ones. Every scowl and stern remark from James receives chuckles and each wacky expression or goofy inflection from Delme causes riotous laughter. Though the first few minutes are slow while they set up and introduce the show, it takes off like Harry riding a Firebolt and doesn't look back. Some of the repetition and silliness is best suited for the early-elementary-schoolers in the audience, but the show also cleverly uses references to Wicked, War Horse, The Chronicles of Narnia series, and Darren Criss, which are cute jokes for those older kids or adults who are theater-savvy or well-versed in pop culture phenomena.
I actually attended Potted Potter twice last summer and this time I brought along a rising ninth-grade friend who is the biggest Potter fan I know. She said Potted Potter is "Starkid-like," referring to the Production Company behind the cult hit A Very Potter Musical, founded by the aforementioned Darren Criss (of "Glee" fame) and his college friends. Since she loves Starkid, I will consider this a huge compliment of the highest regard.
For my third viewing, some of jokes had worn off a bit, but I still found the show enjoyable and some parts downright funny. Potted Potter seemed to be as bright and shiny as a snitch to my theatergoing companion and the rest of the audience. (Speaking of snitch: the hilarious live-action Quidditch match that is staged is a highlight of the show.) If you can't have a new Harry Potter movie, Potted Potter is the next best thing: a family-friendly summertime respite from our Muggle lives to our favorite wizard world.
Photo credit: Brian Friedman