'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' Broadway Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying
The Muggle world is beginning to feel a little more magical thanks to the Broadway opening of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Sunday (Apr. 22). The two-part play picks up where the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two left off, reuniting everyone's favorite wizard trio on Platform 9 3/4 in the year 2017. Harry might be all grown up, married to his best friend's sister and working for the Ministry of Magic, but that evidently doesn't mean the trials and tribulations he endured at Hogwarts have yet met their end.
The sequel to the beloved franchise premiered at London's Palace Theatre in June 2016, and its spellbinding effects have finally made their way overseas to New York City's Lyric Theatre. Potterheads set their expectations at wingardium leviosa heights, but are critics outside of the Wizarding World feeling enchanted by J.K. Rowling's latest story?
Check out what critics have to say about The Cursed Child below.
In embodying the magical with such seeming spontaneity, “Cursed Child” becomes the new gold standard for fantasy franchise entertainment on Broadway. By contrast, most of the family-courting stage versions of animated films that have ruled the theater district for so long look as stiff and artificial as parades of windup toys.
Still, most of the daughters and sons who read the books in their first printings have become mothers and fathers by now and the plays are often wise about the ways in which parents try to protect their children from the world and the ways in which children resist that protection as part of the painful and necessary process of separation and how most families, however fumblingly, will survive it. The play’s great gift is to let us know that they boy who lived has to go on living and then make room for his sons and daughter to live their own lives, too.
The Guardian, 5/5 stars
We’re better off to live and luxuriate in this electric moment for Broadway, where there is real magic to do, real rarified air to breathe in the majestic Lyric Theatre, where an unprecedented extension of a beloved world is making something so impossible feel so much realer than it ever could be. It’s an experience as singular, extraordinary, and unforgettable as, say, seeing a boy with a lightning-shaped scar.
A detailed recap starting with the key prophecy that propelled the entire saga and continuing with a breakdown of each of the seven novels is provided in the program and will be helpful to the uninitiated. But there's also a universal dimension to the human drama here - the challenges of parenting, the conflict between fathers and teenage sons burdened by intimidating legacies, the sustaining force of love and friendship, the eternal grip of the past - that will prove poignant and meaningful even to audiences unversed in the wizarding wars. I'm by no means a Potter obsessive but I was amazed, watching the plays, at how vividly these characters are embedded in our cultural consciousness. You can feel the electric charge in the theater even before the action begins, and it's highly infectious, whatever your prior exposure.
It's the play's emotions that wallop you with the tender magic of simple human connection. Who is the cursed child? Harry, Albus, Scorpius, even Delphi (a superb Jessie Fisher) whose parentage remains a mystery until, well, it isn't. The Cursed Child will inspire wonder and debate in muggles and Potterheads alike. And if Rowling wishes it so, it'll make a hell of a movie. But right now, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child seizes the stage by divine right. Like it belongs there. Like it doesn’t want to leave. It's more than the best new play of the season. It's some kind of miracle.
The production's magic is hardly limited to well-choreographed transitions, though, with illusions ranging from the seemingly high-tech - lightning streams of flame, or a dreamlike effect that has the entire set shimmering with every jump in time - to age-old stage trickery modernized and perfected (unseen hands in black tote levitating actors, while some bat-wing swirls of Hogwarts cloaks all but demand a voila!). In theory, a visit from the wraithlike Dementors - relax, I'm not saying when, how or why - owes a nod to a hoary old Roger Corman gimmick, but the similarity ends with intent: The execution here is genuinely thrilling.