The Best Harry Potter Play Before “Cursed Child”

In honor of the release of the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I’d like to dedicate my first discussion post to an adaptation that’s REALLY good.  As much as I can’t wait to see Cursed Child on stage when it eventually starts touring worldwide, there’s another Potter play that I’ve dreamed of seeing live for years.  If only J.K. Rowling would give her blessing, it could make for an epic Broadway show.

I’m talking about the unofficial, fan production of A Very Potter Musical.

AVPM is a parody of the series that meshes together parts of the plot from Books 1, 4, and 7, with some elements of 5 and 6 in the mix.  It takes place during Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, where Dumbledore plans to hold a kind of Inter-House version of the Triwizard Tournament.  Instead of Hogwarts competing against two other wizarding schools, it’s Gryffindor vs. Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw.  Of course, Harry gets picked to be the champion for Gryffindor.

But little does Harry know that the idea for the Triwizard Tournament came from his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrell.  Quirrell’s working with Harry’s dreaded nemesis, Voldemort, and they want to use the tournament to finally kill Harry!  DUN DUN DUN!  Meanwhile, Voldemort feels confused because he’s always been the most evil wizard who ever lived, but he gradually becomes more interested in hanging out with his new friend, Quirrell, than taking over the world.  DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUNNNNN.

I wouldn’t have thought Harry Potter would make a good subject for a musical.  But then again, musicals have covered just about every subject including fractured fairy tales, civil rights issues, a small French revolution, a conman creating a band in Iowa, and the lives of Jesus Christ and Alexander Hamilton.  So why not Harry Potter?

The songs are really catchy and as you can see from the opening number, “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts,” they’re full of great jokes about the series.  I knew I was going to love the musical as soon as I heard Harry sing, “No way this year anyone’s gonna die!”

It’s also admirable how Team Starkid made a cohesive plot out of the events of three books for one play.  It’s a silly, since it is a parody after all, but it makes sense.  That’s one of the issues I took with the movies: they’d try to keep only the most important details from the plots of each book.  But since a lot of minor characters became important later on, we’d end up watching scenes like Harry being introduced to Ron’s brother, Bill, a few days before Bill’s wedding in the seventh movie.  It wasn’t hard being a fan of the movies without reading the books when Sorcerer’s Stone came out, but Deathly Hallows had a whole lot of characters dying that the movies didn’t spend much time developing.  In fact, “A Very Potter Musical” makes a joke about that towards the end of the play.

Anyway, back to the play.  The characters in AVPM are all exaggerations of themselves, of course, but the changes are funny.  In the books, Harry hates being famous and Ron often feels jealous of the attention Harry gets.  Voldemort doesn’t want friends; he just wants world domination.  Malfoy hates all Muggleborns, especially Hermione.  In the play, Harry LOVES being famous and Ron hero-worships him.  Voldemort achieves world domination but feels lonely.  Malfoy falls in love with Hermione.  But you can just tell that these changes are deliberate jokes too, not a writer misunderstanding the characters.

The story pokes fun at the original series in different ways, like showing the awkward situations that would come with having a man fused to the back of your head.  It even develops Harry and Ginny’s romance better than the books or movies ever did.  I shipped Harry and Ginny together in the books, but they went from having little interaction in the first five books to full-blown romance in Book 6.  The movies handled it even worse; they had a few kissing scenes and that was pretty much it for Ginny.  In the play, her relationship with Harry develops on and off over the course the story.  It’s cute and funny and fits in well with the rest of the plot.  Wowwee, “A Very Potter Musical!”

If you’re a big Harry Potter fan and you haven’t seen AVPM yet, pick a day when you’re not doing anything and watch it on YouTube.  The whole show, in addition to “A Very Potter Sequel” and “A Very Potter Senior Year,” can be found on Team Starkid’s channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC76BE906C9D83A3A

I’d say that you could always watch it in increments when you have the time, but once you start watching, you will not want to stop!  It’s a fantastic adaptation and parody because it’s written and performed by fans who understand the source material and know how to poke fun at the books without being hostile about it.  Get ready to end up rolling on the floor like Malfoy because you can’t stop laughing!  It’s so cool and it’s TOTALLY AWESOME!

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