The Tony Award-winning two-part play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is going to return, both to Broadway and to San Francisco, in a revised and much shorter form — with the creative team having worked during the pandemic to turn this into a one-part show.
Audiences in San Francisco only got to see the two-part version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for a few months before the pandemic shut down all live theater last March — only about five months, including previews, of what was promised to be at least a two-year run. And the experience, like it's done on Broadway, needed to be had over two nights or one long day of theater-going, with a marathon that began in the early afternoon, took a break for dinner, and continued into the night.
It sounds like the producers are aiming to keep the show on Broadway a bit longer than a two-part show typically sustains — even though it is already the longest-running two-parter ever to play on a Broadway stage. So, the revision has tightened the storyline in ways they won't elaborate on, and they're aiming to get the show to come in at a runtime they still aren't publicizing. Just know that when the play reopens on Broadway and in SF, you'll be able to see it all in one sitting with presumably one (or two?) intermission(s).
As I wrote in SFist's December 2019 review of the Curran production, the two-part experience had a "satisfyingly novelistic sweep" and was jam-packed with some jaw-dropping stagecraft and special effects — none of which, the team is promising, will feel missing. But how is that possible?
"Given the challenges of remounting and running a two-part show in the US on the scale of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the commercial challenges faced by the theatre and tourism industries emerging from the global shutdowns, we are excited to be able to move forward with a new version of the play that allows audiences to enjoy the complete Cursed Child adventure in one sitting eight times a week," producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender say in a statement.
Playwright Jack Thorne and Director John Tiffany issued a statement saying, "We've been working hard on this new version throughout lockdown and it's been a joyous process of rediscovery. It has given us a unique opportunity to look at the play with fresh eyes and we have been inspired by the entire creative team every step of the way."
JK Rowling added to the announcement saying, "Collaborating on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been one of the great joys of my professional life. While no one would wish for what has happened over the last year, it has given Jack, John and the first-class creatives who first breathed life into the production the opportunity to revisit the play, and to find a new way to frame our story — with amazing illusions and some exquisite new staging — all the while keeping our original story intact."
The play follows a new generation of Hogwarts students through an adventure that hinges on some time-travel, and it all centers on a friendship between Harry's youngest son Albus Potter (played in SF by Benjamin Papac), and Scorpius Malfoy (played in SF by Jon Steiger), son of Draco Malfoy.
Broadway performances are set to resume on November 16, while the Curran production will resume on January 11, 2022 — with the casts now rehearsing an entirely new version of the play they were performing 15 months ago.
Tickets for the Curran production go on sale on July 21, 2021, and you can get presale access by signing up here.
Top image: Jon Steiger as Scorpius Malfoy and Benjamin Papac as Albus Potter. Photo: Matthew Murphy