Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two part stage sequel to J.K Rowling’s original Harry Potter series, flies into the West End, London, next June. Anticipation for the play is high; when tickets went on sale, 175,000 were sold in just 24 hours. Indeed, it seems as though it will be the theatrical event in London next summer. Hardly a surprise given that the Harry Potter fandom is still going strong since the release of the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, in 2011.
The Cursed Child returns to Harry, Ron and Hermione as adults. Ron and Hermione are married with children, with Ron working for the Ministry of Magic and Hermione working as a lawyer in the department of Magical Law Enforcement. Harry is married to Ginny Weasley, father of three school-age children, and working hard as head of the Auror division at the Ministry of Magic. The play will focus on his youngest son, Albus, who struggles to cope with the family legacy which he never wanted, and Harry’s past, which refuses to stay buried. The play will be presented in two parts, with audiences either attending a matinee and evening performance on the same day, or two consecutive evening performances.
The Cursed Child is written by J.K. Rowling, with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, both of whom also direct the show. Thorne is a British screenwriter who is currently adapting Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman for the big screen. He has previously teamed with Tony award-winning Tiffany for the stage adaptation of Swedish horror movie, Let The Right One In. Ahead of rehearsals beginning, the casting of the main trio; Harry, Ron and Hermione, has been announced.
Jamie Parker will take on the role of adult Harry. Parker has had a strong stage career thus far; best known for being an original cast member of Alan Bennett’s History Boys, a role he later reprised for the film. He is currently starring in Guys and Dolls in the West End.
Paul Thornley plays Ron Weasley, with director Thorne jokingly assuring fans that Thornley is a “ginger in his soul.” Thornley is also a regular on stage as well as playing lead in the film, London Road.
Noma Dumezweni has been cast as Hermione Granger. Once again, she has had an illustrious stage career so far, and recently stepped in (with just four days notice) to replace Kim Cattrall in the stage show Linda, for which she received rave reviews. Her casting is seen as controversial, because Dumezweni is black. However, this didn’t hold with Rowling, who took to her Twitter to set the record straight.
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015
In fairness, for every negative tweet about the casting decision, there were several more that were positive and celebratory. However, it’s not gone unnoticed that Rowling does refer to Hermione’s “white face” in her writing.
Like, I’m all for erasing white characters in fiction since white ppl erase PoC from actual IRL history ALL THE TIME pic.twitter.com/11gNklJFyA— 8lb 6oz Baby Judesus (@judeinlondon) December 21, 2015
….But this is a brand new stage play; an adaptation and continuation of Harry’s story and the Wizarding world Rowling created. Surely the focus should be on whether these three actors can successfully bring Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany’s words to life on the stage, regardless of the color of their skin or hair? One thing is for certain, the rest of the casting announcements from here on in will be interesting.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins previews at The Palace Theatre, London on June 7th, 2016