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Reflections: POTTED POTTER, Twice The Fun

POTTED POTTER creators Daniel Clarkson, Jefferson
Turner graced the opening night in Manila Tuesday.
(Photo: Erickson Dela Cruz)

Manila, Philippines--I was able to watch the unstoppable, nearly nine-year-old touring production of two-time Olivier Award nominees Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner's parody POTTED POTTER: The Unauthorized Harry Experience twice: the first time was at Little Shubert Theatre Off-Broadway, which starred Clarkson and Turner, in 2012; the second time was at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in Manila, which now stars British actors Benjamin Stratton and James Percy, last Tuesday.

In both instances, the audiences--young and old--filled the performance hall with contagious laughter, around 70 minutes long or more.

The two-hander, which according to Clarkson and Turner is "a loving homage" to the phenomenally popular "Harry Potter" books, continues to appeal to diverse audiences--way beyond its first British audiences--probably because of the following: (1) the global appeal of the "Harry Potter" multimedia franchise; (2) the spontaneous changes in the script depending where the "extended" sketch comedy is being staged; and (3) the strong chemistry between the two featured actors.

Who hasn't read the first book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"? Who hasn't seen at least one of the "Harry Potter" book-to-film adaptations, which made Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson household names? Or who hasn't tried Starbucks' secret menu item: the butterbeer of "Harry Potter" fame? That "Harry Potter" has pervaded popular culture--from west to east--is an understatement.

On stage Little Shubert Theatre two summers ago, Clarkson had his hair microphone still on, switching between costumes in the middle of a performance, embarrassingly confessed, "Oh, boy, that doesn't work in New York City," immediately after blurting out a few lryics of an unfamiliar British ditty that did not get a bit of a reaction from the American theatergoers.

Subsequently, that same exact thing happened when Stratton sang a bit of another unfamiliar British pop song, which did not ring a bell among local theatergoers, at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium last Tuesday. "So that doesn't work in Manila. We need to do more research!" Stratton awkwardly but proudly uttered on stage, which then prompted a much-desired wild outburst of laughter from the audiences, which would have still been asking themselves, "What was that #@$m song anyway?"

POTTED POTTER's current stars, James Percy and
Benjamin Stratton

Those deliberate additional lines--self-deprecating at some level--expose some of the material's loose ends, but make the whole theatrical experience even more hilarious. Thanks to the strong teamwork and chemistry between the two actors. Seeing the show's creators Clarkson, who used to play the supposedly uninitiated "Harry Potter" person Dan (the actors use their own nicknames in the show), and Turner, who used to play the "Harry Potter" go-to-guy Jeff, was an epic treat to theatergoers who follow POTTED POTTER's success story.

However, seeing the show's latest set of actors, Stratton and Percy, having absolute fun on stage, and bending some of the show's ground rules, i.e. only invite six-year-old children and not "oversized" pre-teenagers to go on stage to play the show's makeshift version of the competitive sport Quidditch. But, why oh why? Simply because these physically small kids would have to be instructed to literally pin down the actor mimicking the Golden Snitch, a ball used in Quidditch.

Last Tuesday night, Stratton, on purpose, picked two pre-teens from the audience to play Quidditch instead. The outcome was hysterically funny: the pre-teens, who were nearly as tall as Percy--playing the Golden Snitch-- held down the actor for a few seconds on the right side of the stage. Somewhat battered or bruised, Percy chuckled and said, "Oh my, I think my left leg is hurting," which he quickly followed up with, "Oh, that's Quidditch in Manila!"

Stratton, wearing a devilish grin--resembling that of antagonist Lord Voldemort--was caught laughing his heart out, while prancing across center stage.

That sounds like a lot of fun, huh?

Well, then check it out for yourself!

Tickets to POTTED POTTER, whose closing day in Manila is tomorrow, October 5, are a click away (ticketworld.com.ph).

POTTED POTTER plays Hobart, Australia (October 7 to 12), Perth, Australia (October 14 to 19), Sydney, Australia (October 21 to 26), Melbourne, Australia (October 28 to November 2), Brisbane, Australia (November 4 to 16) and Toronto, Canada (from December 18).

Visit pottedpotter.com.


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