J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany Put Wizards on Stage
On April 22, 2018, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two began had its official opening night at the Lyric Theatre, where the shows have been running in previews since March 16, 2018. These two parts of the play run in repertory, and audience members are given the option of seeing one or both, on the same day or separate days, but encouraged to see both. The show is not an adaptation of the popular Harry Potter novels or films, but rather an entirely new story that extends the characters’ journey into the future, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are adults, but their children are at the age to begin attending Hogwarts. The plays were written by Jack Thorne, based on a story by J.K. Rowling, who wrote the novels, in collaboration with Thorne, as well as John Tiffany, who also directs the pieces. John Tiffany is a Scottish director who made a name for himself on Broadway with Once, which won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical, and his subsequent Broadway credits include Macbeth and The Glass Menagerie. Jack Thorne is a British playwright making his Broadway debut with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but he is also the bookwriter of the musical King Kong, now scheduled to play on Broadway starting this upcoming fall. The movement director is Stephen Hoggett, whose choreography credits include Angels in America, The Crucible, The Last Ship, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Rocky.
The reviews are in, and critics agree: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a hit! Ben Brantley from The New York Times called the two-part play “enthralling,” praising the “inspired” creative team who make “five hours of performance pass in a wizardly wink of an eye.” He went on to call the production “remarkable” and “all-consuming enchantment.” Marilyn Stasio from Variety complimented the show’s “savvy producers,” especially regarding their work refurbishing the Lyric Theatre, which has failed to house successful shows in the past. She then states that the “execution…is genuinely thrilling,” and that “yet with all that spectacle, Cursed Child never feels like a theme park attraction, its captivating story – plot, dialogue, character development… summons it all.” Greg Evans from Deadline calls it “a shape-shifting play that effortlessly incorporates music and choreographed movement, classic storytelling and fresh perspectives,” praising it for bringing “the magic of theater” to those who grew up with the Harry Potter books and films. Marc Snetiker from Entertainment Weekly says that the plays “conjure the impossible on Broadway,” calling it “a technical achievement that redefines the possibilities of theatre.” David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter says the “ecstatic hype is justified,” stating that “it’s not hyperbole to call the show sheer magic.”
A Dip in Box Office, Expected to Rise Again
In the week ending August 22, 2018, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child brought in a weekly gross of $1,272,136, which represents just 68.62% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $286.50, the average paid admission was $98.04, and the audience was filled up to 100.0% of capacity. As there was not an empty seat in the house, this lower average paid admission could demonstrate a lot of discounting, except that was clearly not the case here, as tickets are hard to come by. In this case, it rather demonstrates that many complimentary tickets were given out in the week leading up to the film’s opening night, as well as opening night itself. It is common practice for press to be invited to the show for the press previews, and for friends of production to be invited for opening night. Therefore, it is to be expected that the box office grosses will soon rise again to healthy levels, with the sold-out show bringing in well over its gross potential each week.