Harry Potter fans rejoice! Our favorite characters have made it to the stage! In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a continuation of the Harry Potter world can now be seen in select cities around the world. Over winter break, we had the incredible opportunity to travel to San Francisco to not only enjoy the city, but to take in the Cursed Child show.
The story takes place several years after the book series ends. Harry and Hermione now work for the Ministry of Magic, Ron owns a joke shop, and they are all adults trying to balance work and family responsibilities. Harry and Ginny now have kids, as do Ron and Hermione, and they are headed for Hogwarts!
When Harry’s son, Albus, is not only sorted into Slytherin but also becomes best friends with Scorpius (Draco Malfoy’s son), their already difficult relationship becomes even more strained. And Albus’ repeated attempts to solve one problem while creating bigger ones don’t help things between them either.
I will say that the story does not hold up to previous Harry Potter stories. It is difficult to portray the richness of language and imagery found in the books in the form of a script. But seeing the magic of the wizarding world along with the characters we have all loved for years up close and in person more than makes up for it. And it starts the moment you walk in the theater.
The Curran Theatre went all in getting ready for the show. Hogwarts crests can be found in the carpeting and wallpaper from the lobby to the bathrooms. Theatre staff and ushers are dressed in wizarding robes and have house related details- Gryffindor pin here, a Hufflepuff tie there. They use Harry Potter lingo and bring the show experience to audience members. As a bit of a spoiler, some of Albus’ choices significantly alter history, and a certain villain resumes prominence- albeit temporarily. When we returned to the theatre for part two, an usher greeted us with “Happy Voldemort Day.” Nugget, of course, firmly said “no.” The usher glowered at him and said “I will be speaking to Professor Umbridge about you, young wizard.” Nugget’s eyes got huge and he quickly scurried off as the usher winked at me and I tried to cover my laughter.
The special effects in this show are incredible and unlike anything we had seen before. Without giving too much detail and spoiling it for you, actors disappear through impossibly small spaces, cast members fly over the audience at impressive heights, set movements are choreographed in ways that make inanimate objects dance, impressive lighting makes the impossible possible, and water is used in a very fun way. Spells make magic happen, sparks shoot from wands, and capes and costumes add not only provide cover to allow the magic to occur, but add a beautiful visual elegance. Certain effects and moments in the show had audience members literally on the edge of their seats and craning their necks and bodies to get closer in ways I haven’t witnessed at other shows. When a particular villain made an appearance and walked into the audience, I may or may not have grabbed Nugget and placed him on my lap, squeezing him tight. Sorry, Chicken. I guess you’re fending for yourself.
While Harry and Hermione weren’t portrayed the way they are in my imagination, Ron remained his goofy self. Scorpius was delightful, and Moaning Myrtle was a complete scene stealer. The actress playing Delphi, a newly introduced character critical to the plot, was captivating. A couple parts in the story drag a bit, and I could see how some people who aren’t dedicated Harry Potter fans could lose interest. Similarly, it definitely helps to know the Harry Potter books quite well to appreciate some of the references and back story. I would not recommend this show if you aren’t familiar with the books as it would not be nearly as enjoyable.
This show is two parts. Don’t mistake that for one show with an intermission. It is two full length plays that you can see on one day or two separate days. Separate tickets must be purchased for each part. We chose to do it all in one day, with the first part at 1:00 and the second part at 6:30. Depending on the age of your children, this may or may not be advisable. My kids have been going to plays since they were about 3 years old. We have done hour long shows meant for kids, and three hour shows where we got many skeptical looks from adults worried we were about to destroy their evening. We have done two plays in one day. Because they are both complete Harry Potter nerds, I was relatively confident (or overly optimistic) they could do it. It was like our Mount Everest of theater. And they did it. They were 100% engrossed in the show the entire time. You do get a break that is long enough for a walk and meal, which was helpful. But not all kids are going to be able to handle nearly 6 hours of theater that requires being still and quiet. And if you are going to commit to the financial investment for your family to see the show, you want to make sure you are setting everyone up for success.
What it’s not: appropriate for most small children due to the length (a total of almost 6 hours) and some scary parts, as well written as the original Harry Potter books, targeted to people who aren’t familiar with the Harry Potter world
What it is: visually stunning, nostalgic, well acted, incredibly staged, innovative, moving, a hit with dedicated fans of the series.
Would we recommend it? For fans of the series and kids old enough to sit through a show of this length, absolutely yes! It is possible that I am planning a kid-free trip with friends to see it again. Chicken said this is her favorite show that she has seen, and Nugget said it is tied with Hamilton- which is saying something.
Tickets are sold in blocks, and new dates will periodically be added as the show run extends. San Francisco tickets can be purchased here: https://www.harrypottertheplay.com/san-francisco/
There are links on this page to the other cities as well. Don’t forget that you need to purchase a ticket to each part!