Theatrical Decor for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: An Augery’s Nest of Easter Eggs.

I thought it was curious that the instructions for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child specified that audience members should show up a full hour before curtain time. I even wondered if this was a plot to sell you extra butterbeer, chocolate frogs and T-shirts prior to the show. While there were certainly snacks and souvenirs for sale, as there are for all Broadway productions, there was actually plenty to see and do in the lobby area, that made the hour pass quite enjoyably.

The Lyric Theatre spent over 30 million dollars renovating the theater to host this production, so they clearly expect it to be around for a while. They spared no expense or lack of detail, inside or out. Projects ranged from huge (e.g. the black wing that extended from the entrance all the way down the block, with the augurey nest perched on a distant building) to more subtle (the winged sconces that held the outdoor lanterns) but they all added up to a treasure trove of artistry to delight the serious fan. You might even call it an Augurey’s nest of Easter Eggs.   Find out more after the jump!  Spoilers, ho! [Read more…]

Louise’s Post-Cursed Child Review: Stage Spectacle Out-Shines the Script

Yesterday was it: a day of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, with Part 1 at 2 PM and Part 2 at 7:30. I had been eagerly anticipating this experience since the release of the published script almost 3 years ago. In general, I would say that the show fully met my expectations:  the parts I enjoyed from the script were great on stage, and the parts that made me roll my eyes at the script–I’m looking at you, bed-wetting scene, and tearful conversations with Dumbledore’s portrait— did the same thing on stage.  But, the part of the theatrical experience you can’t get from reading–the staging, the sets, the special effects–were amazing, as has been reported by theater-goers since the London premiere. That, as expected, turned the experience into something well worth the price.

More to come:  but, be forewarned.  Despite the neat #keepthesecrets button they gave me, having already read, discussed, blogged and podcasted about the script extensively, I will be discussing many show spoilers.  Please do not read beyond the jump if you do not want to know the Cursed Secrets. [Read more…]

Louise’s Pre-Cursed Child Post: Anticipation, Head-scratching, and Curry.

It’s Cursed Child Eve for this Hogpro faculty member, as, almost exactly a year after I snagged tickets to the Broadway production, I caught the train to NYC from Charlottesville for the big show. I opted for the one day version, so Parts I and 2 are both tomorrow. A long day of theater-going, to be sure!

Headmaster John asked me to write up both pre- and post-performance productions. Confession time… while I read the script through twice when it was published in July 2016, I intentionally have not picked it up since, knowing that I would someday see the play and wanting as fresh a take as possible.  In a perfect world, I would have seen the play before reading the script, but, I couldn’t wait three years. Thus, while John insists he would have read the play multiple times in the weeks before the show, so as to best be on alert for any changes, I took the opposite approach.

I did, however, re-read the previous posts I had written about the script (here, here and here), as well as listen to the MuggleNet Academia episode I recorded on the topic. Another must-read was Elizabeth Baird-Hardy’s brilliant essay of the Oedipal connections to the script.  So, if you want to know my thoughts on the script itself prior to the show, you can go there. 

In the absence of fresh script thoughts, I will share a bit of my Cursed Child Eve festivities in the Big Apple. We arrived in mid-afternoon, just in time to check out our decidedly “cozy” hotel and do a little sight-seeing. After a stroll by the Empire State Building, we visited the NYC Public Library, which turned out to be a great place for getting into the Potter spirit. Not only are there awesome lions– that’s the very Gryffindorly-named Fortitude, above– there was an entire display of Harry Potter material in the library gift shop, including, of course, the Cursed Child script. 

Then, we walked over to the Lyric Theater itself, where the show will start at 1 PM tomorrow.  The gift shop there was open as well, and my husband requested I visit today, before I got overly intoxicated by either the production itself or the drink to which our Headmaster has promised to treat me. As it turned out, his fears that I would go crazy in that retail establishment were groundless.  I noticed on the picture of the house banners outside the theater that a couple of the House color schemes were off. Gryffindor and Slytherin were OK, but Hufflepuff was a light gold, almost beige, paired with a muddy brown. rather than the yellow and black of the series. Ravenclaw, already corrupted from the books’ blue-and-bronze to the blue-and-grey of the movie merchandise, was even worse: a royal blue paired with a sky blue. (Bleah!) As you can see in the photo, the faulty color scheme was repeated in the t-shirts, ties and scarves sold in the theater souvenir shop. This pretty much kills any chance I will add to my Ravenclaw swag collection here.  

On top of that, a lot of the key-chains, pens, etc. carried the slogan “The 8th Story, 19 Years Later.”  If you perused the posts and podcasts, you know I think it was a mistake to marked this as the “8th book” in the series, since it clearly is not. The opening dialogue on Platform 9 3/4 does not match either the book’s or the film’s; where Harry is clearly shown to have a loving relationship with Albus Severus and be OK with him being a Slytherin. That fundamental precept must be changed if the Cursed Child storyline is going to exist. For that reason, I belong to the camp that rejects the play as canon, and considers it a fan-fiction adjunct, albeit the best type, the kind that gets the approval of the Author Herself. So, while I am greatly looking forward to the theatrical spectacle tomorrow, I think I will let my “Best Play” flyer, above, be my only souvenir. Unless that promised drink comes in a keepsake goblet or cauldron….

The final fun bit?  Our hotel is located directly over this awesome little take-out curry place, where we ate a delicious dinner after our touristing. It was enough to help me imagine being in London with Cormoran, Robin, Nick and Ilsa.

Back tomorrow with a review of the play itself!

Creosote-Colored Tea Leaves: Louise’s First Musings for Cormoran Strike 5

As has been pointed out multiple times by John Granger and others, the Cormoran Strike series seems to be following a pattern of parallels to the Harry Potter series, with Book 2 centered on the havoc wreaked by a mysterious autobiographical book, Book 3 on a notorious escaped criminal stalking the protagonist and Book 4 on patricide of a government minister, set against the backdrop of a major sporting event. For this reason, we should expect echoes of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Cormoran Strike 5.

John has also pointed out the multiple ring structures in the Harry Potter series, with similar themes in books 1, 4, and 7; 2 and 6; and 3 and 5. The large number of parallels seen between Cuckoo’s Calling and Lethal White suggest the pattern is continuing with the Cormoran Strike series. Thus we should expect echoes from both Career of Evil and Order of the Phoenix in the next installment of Robin’s and Cormoran’s adventures.

With that in mind, I’m going to start a few preliminary muses about themes, ideas and storylines that might come up. Keep in mind this is pure, very early speculation. More after the jump. [Read more…]

Misattribution of Arousal: More Evidence of Robin’s Psychology Training

As most Hogpro readers know, I am a psychology professor/ neuroscientist/ behavior analyst, and therefore love looking for psychological themes in fiction. Most of my commentary has involved depictions of mental illness, though the Hunger Games and  Divergent provided a mountain of other themes, from personality theory to fear conditioning to neuroscience. Naturally, I was delighted to learned that Robin Ellacott had planned to major in psychology, prior to dropping out of uni, and I take special note of any use of her psychology training on the job.

This segment of Lethal White, where Robin tries to sort out her feelings for Cormoran, really jumped out at me.

Wasn’t it possible, she asked herself, when she was cried out at last, that she was confusing gratitude and friendship with something deeper? That she had mistaken her love of detection for love of the man who had given her the job? She admired Strike, of course, and was immensely fond of him. They had passed through many intense experiences together, so that it was natural to feel close to him, but was that love?

Whether she consciously remembers her coursework or not, Robin is demonstrating knowledge of a well-known psychological phenomenon, misattribution of arousal. More after the jump. [Read more…]