Harry for the holidays

Shoshana Flax:

Old Potter fans never die, they just sit down at the Yule Ball. 

Cindy and I spent the evening of Sunday, December 15th at the Middle East nightclub in Cambridge for the Boston edition of Harry and the Potters’ Yule Ball. (The Black Cat in Washington, DC, and The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY held their own iterations of the event earlier.) What is a Yule Ball, you ask? Well, if you’re an actual Hogwarts student, it’s a formal event requiring dress robes and ballroom dancing. But if you’re a Muggle, it’s a nerdy celebration of Wizard Rock. 

The bill included carols played on bells by The Dead Ringers… 

(Photos by Cynthia K. Ritter)

…prequel-centric polka by Newt Skabander (in their debut performance!)… 

…musical Muggle musings by Jason Anderson… 

…a Slytherin perspective from Draco and the Malfoys… 

…the hilarious Potter Puppet Pals, featuring Prancer (did you know Santa is a Hogwarts alum?)… 

…and of course, our Wrockin’ hosts, Harry and the Potters

A portion of proceeds benefitted the Harry Potter Alliance. Here’s to Dumbledore’s Army! 


Cynthia K. Ritter:

And on Monday December 30th, my older sister and I traveled to New York City for the day to see Parts 1 & 2 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Lyric Theatre (one of six current productions of the show worldwide) in the heart of the city's theater district and Times Square. It was the fulfillment of a belated fortieth birthday present to my sister nine months in the planning (squeezing it in just before the end of the year still counts, right?) and a promise to myself three years after reading the script (and feeling similar to reviewer Shoshana about it) that I'd someday go see this thing live to discover if it actually was better onstage (which I'd heard was the case).

Without giving away the show's secrets, I can say that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I definitely see why it won six Tony Awards in 2018 (in particular the scenic, costume, lighting, and sound design awards). Part 1 was two hours and forty minutes and Part 2 was another two hours and thirty-five minutes (both with twenty minute intermissions), making for an unusually long but unique experience that's certainly worth seeing if you're an ardent Harry Potter fan. I was really impressed by the way magical elements were presented onstage (my absolute favorite part was the way they depicted time travel) and for me the show visually lived up to the hype. So much so that I'm looking forward to learning more about it when I read through the new book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey: Behind the Scenes of the Award-Winning Stage Production (Levine/Scholastic, 2019).

After seeing a diorama of the theater when I was at the New York Historical Society Museum & Library's "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" exhibition in December 2018 (check out the accompanying exhibit book from Scholastic if you didn't get a chance to see this show in person — it's quite a detailed and fascinating look behind the stories!), one of the big draws for me was seeing how they'd transformed the theater specifically for this show. From the carpet to the walls of the lobby and seating area, there were clever touches that connected back to the show, and oh my goodness were the renovated seats plushy and the legroom fantastic! I was also intrigued by the fact that they'd updated the house banners and school logo, which felt fresh but still recognizable, one of the many elements that helped the show stand out as connected to the world of J. K. Rowling's books and the films, but yet its own thing.

Take a peek inside my Cursed Child experience in the slideshow below, and share your thoughts in the comments about both of the Harry Potter shows we saw this holiday season.


Shoshana Flax and Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. Shoshana Flax is associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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