If you love Harry Potter, you likely already know about the Curran Theater's semi-permanent installation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II. But if you're on the fence about whether or not to buy your tickets, I have one word for you—go!
With its amazing set, spectacular practical effects and canon storyline, this is a show that you will not want to miss.
Any chance to experience Hogwarts on stage is something I knew I'd want to see, but I have to say, this show surpassed all of my expectations. This is genuinely one of my favorite theater experiences of all time, including Wicked and Hamilton (two of my all-time favorite shows). The use of gorgeous lighting effects, practical magic, stunning scenery and clever costuming, sets this show apart even before you take in the nostalgia factor of Harry Potter characters shown in a new and more mature light.
The show is divided up into two, 3-hour plays that pick up the story of Harry Potter right after the epilogue of the final, seventh book. The plays bounce between the now-adult Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny, and their children, now attending Hogwarts. The plot particularly highlights Harry and Ginny's middle child, Albus Severus Potter, and his close friendship with Draco Malfoy's child, Scorpius. Unsurprisingly, the children get into trouble just as deeply as their parents and interact with many favorite characters including Professor McGonagall and Moaning Myrtle. I won't explain the plot any further, for fear of spoiling fabulous surprises, but I will say that the closing scene of Part I made me literally scream out loud and almost jump out of my chair.
The magic is the part of the show that I had heard the most about, but nothing I had heard could do the show justice. Almost every scene has some sort of practical effect to make the spells and magic of the world of Harry Potter come alive. All of the effects were real and tangible, with very little projection work. It all makes you feel as if you've truly stepped into Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic and more.
Every detail about this show is spectacular. The scene transitions are choreographed so that they feel more like dances than set changes. The carpeting in the Curran Theater has been switched out for a Hogwarts-themed pattern that matches the new sound dampener boards on the walls of the theater.
I do have a few recommendations to optimize your viewing experience:
See both parts on the same day. Once the first part ends (on an impressively dramatic note) you will be sorely disappointed if you have to go home and see the conclusion on another day. You can easily make a day of this show by seeing the first part early in the day and the second show in the evening. Luckily the plot, characters and performances are strong enough to hold your attention for that long.
Plan to grab a meal nearby between shows. Each part is about 3 hours long and you'll want more than overpriced sweets and cocktails while they reset the stage for Part II. There are a number of good small restaurants in the area, including several just across the street from the theater. I do not recommend going to either of the large restaurants at Macy's nearby as you will likely not have time to get a seat and actually eat your meal before the show starts again.
Know your Harry Potter. Reread the books, rewatch the movies, read the book summaries, do whatever you need to do to brush up on the story. You can definitely enjoy the show with only a loose understanding of the world of Harry Potter (and there is a short summary of each book in the program), however the experience is definitely designed for lovers of the story who know the basic spells and elements of the world.If you grew up with the story and self-identify with your Hogwarts House more than your horoscope, don't worry, just go into the show blind. You won't regret it.
DO NOT read the published manuscript of the shows. The show is delightful, but reading the script ahead of time will spoil a lot of the magic and mystery. There are a number of truly jaw-dropping moments, particularly at the end of Part I, that would be utterly spoiled if you knew it was going to happen. But, even if you've already read the script, the practical magic and lighting effects alone are worth the ticket price.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II is playing now at the Curran Theater. Tickets are currently on sale for performances through July 2020. Tickets range $59 to $199 per part with special discounts available on Fridays with "Friday Forty" where tickets are offered for $20 per part. Each part runs about three hours with one intermission each.
Photos courtesy of Matthew Murphy