BWW Review: Magic Abounds in San Fran's Curran with HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

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BWW Review: Magic Abounds in San Fran's Curran with HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD
The cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
at the Curran Theater in San Francisco.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

First off, Dear Readers, let me emphasize that the Harry Potter Plays, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2" are NOT here in Seattle. And, personally I doubt they ever will be considering the amount of technical wizardry needed to pull it off. They'd have to practically remodel the theaters here in order to give it as much of an immersive and spectacular feel as it has in New York or London ... or now, in SAN FRANCISCO at the Curran Theater. Yes, I wanted to alert you all to the fact that this amazing show is now on the West Coast as well, so it's not as much of a trek to go see it, and see it you should. But is it as magical as the one in New York? Well, that's what we're here to discuss. Hopefully without giving too much away.

First off, the story. This is technically the eighth book in the series. And it was released in book form but what was released was the script of the plays. Yes, plays, plural as to see it you must see two plays. The story of "The Cursed Child" picks up where the seventh book (and movie) left off. It's 18 years after the Battle of Hogwarts and now adult Harry and Ginny (John Skelly and Angela Reed) are dropping off their second son, Albus Serverus Potter (Benjamin Papac), at Platform 9 ¾ to send him off to his first year at Hogwarts. Nervous he'll be sorted into Slytherin by the sorting hat, Harry reminds him that he's named after a great man who was in Slytherin as well. On the train with his cousin Rose (Folami Williams), daughter of Hermione and Ron (Yanna McIntosh and David Abeles), Albus runs into and befriends the most unlikely of people, Scorpius Malfoy (Jon Steiger), son of Draco Malfoy (Lucas Hall). But Scorpius is not what you'd expect from a Malfoy as he's sweet and studious and kind and also, a bit awkward. Much to the chagrin of their parents, the two become fast friends and end up going on an adventure to rival Harry and the gang, when they come across ... well, I can't tell you that. You see, they don't really want too much given out lest the surprises (and there are many) of the show be spoiled. So, I can only give out so much but let's give it a shot.

If you've read the book, if you haven't read the book, if you're a fan of all things Potter or if you're not, if you just love theater you need to see this show! I was skeptical, like I'm sure many of you are. "It's too expensive." "There are two shows." But a friend talked me down and I ended up seeing it in New York and it blew my mind. The stagecraft in this show is beyond belief. Fireballs shooting across stage, Polyjuice potion transformations, people appearing and disappearing in thin air, and so much more. So much, in fact, that, along with the story, it's much of what they ask you not to give away. And I won't. But what I will say is that director John Tiffany and his crew have put so much thought and artistry behind presenting this new story from J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and Tiffany, that I suspect them to be wizards themselves. Or maybe just artistic geniuses who know how to push the audience's buttons. And push they do! Expect to see favorite characters from the past and so many wonderful new characters, that the most die-hard Potterhead will be overflowing with joy.

BWW Review: Magic Abounds in San Fran's Curran with HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD
The cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
at the Curran Theater in San Francisco.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

The cast is superb and embody all your beloved friends from Hogwarts to a T. Plus the choreography, movement, and technical prowess each of them shows off will leave you reeling. I would say more but I really cannot. I can't tell you that one of the characters you will see will be [CENSORED]. Or that they will [CENSORED]. Or even go into some of the sublime art direction of the world including a new logo for [VERY CENSORED].

But I can go into that this is just as good as the New York show. There have been no corners cut, no effects skimped on, no elements left out just because it would be difficult to take them to a new theater. They've modified the Curran theater (as much as space allowed) to make the immersive feel apparate you right into the world from the moment you set foot into the theater as if your ticket were your own special portkey into the world. There was only one moment I remembered from the New York production that I missed, and it wasn't a technical thing but a performance one. But again, I can't tell you what it is. But I will say that with my three-letter rating system, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2" are both outstandingly magical WOWs. Do yourself a favor and repeat after me, "Accio tickets!"

Oh, and two final little hints about the show. First, I advise you to not sit on the orchestra level. Sit in the first mezzanine or balcony. There's just some incredible technical stuff that you want to be looking down on. And second, when you go shopping for souvenirs at the show (because you know you will), wait to do it until the second show. Trust me.

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2" are currently playing at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. For tickets or information visit them online at www.harrypottertheplay.com/san-francisco.

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