Local Arts

New Harry Potter is out 12:01 a.m. Sunday. What Charlotte needs to know

Harry, Albus and Ginny (aka actors Jamie Parker, Sam Clemmett and Poppy Miller) appear in the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”: The “book” version of the play will be released a minute after midnight, and several places in Charlotte plan release parties.
Harry, Albus and Ginny (aka actors Jamie Parker, Sam Clemmett and Poppy Miller) appear in the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”: The “book” version of the play will be released a minute after midnight, and several places in Charlotte plan release parties. NYT

1. Is “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two” a book or a play?

“It’s a little confusing,” says Megan Minard of Park Road Books. “It’s bound like a book, but it is a play. What I’ve told people is, ‘It’s like Shakespeare!’ ” Yes! It’s the script of a play by Jack Thorne, which opens Saturday in London’s Palace Theatre (and is about sold out through December 2017, according to the Associated Press, with another quarter-million tickets going on sale Aug. 4.) That play is based on an original story by Potter originator J.K. Rowling plus Thorne and John Tiffany. So what it is not is a new book solely by Rowling.

2. Are there midnight release parties like they held when earlier Potter books came out? And what shall I wear?

Indeed – and the highest Quidditch goal’s the limit. Barnes & Nobles around town (and across the country) plan Countdowns to Midnight Magic beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday. And there’ll be no peeking ‘til midnight. “We cannot sell or even open a box until 12:01 Sunday morning,” says Whitney Schuner, community business development manager at the Arboretum store, who anticipates they’ll see a wide variety of fans. “We expect to see grownups on their own and families, all ages. Our staff is thrilled. We’ll have lots of Harry Potter trivia, a costume contest of course, face-painting, wand-making crafts, some create-your-own magical elixirs, a Sorting station, fortune-telling...” (All the sites will have costumes, face-painting and the wand-making, she says; individual stores are adding on activities.) Cost of the book: $17.99.

2nd & Charles on South Boulevard plans to start some events at 2 p.m. (a scavenger hunt, potion- and wand-making classes) and will carry on through until midnight – 12:01, that is – when those who’ve preordered books will begin to receive them. Yes, you must have pre-ordered – but you can show up at 11:59 p.m., “pre-order” then, and receive one, says the store. They’re selling at full retail – $29.99 – but you get a store gift card for $10.

Davidson’s Main Street Books has already sold out its event, with tickets ($33-$38) that included the book – handed out at midnight – plus Potter trivia, live skits, a Sorting Hat and more.

3. Wait a minute. “Cursed Child”?

Well. This story picks up 19 years after where we last left Harry (2007’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in book form, 2011’s “HPATDH – Part 2” on film), and though plot leaks are thin (and who really wants to seek them out anyway?), we know this: Potter now works at the Ministry of Magic; son Albus, named for Hogwart’s beloved Albus Dumbledore, is attending that school. And, says the play synopsis: “While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

Let’s mention here that the playwright is the guy who adapted creepy/cool Swedish vampire story “Let the Right One In” for the stage, while the director is the guy who led the musical “Once.” The complete play is a five-hour production in two parts: Audiences can see both in one day or on separate evenings, and tickets are 15 to 70 British pounds per part: About $20 to $93 each.

4. Is Hermione in it, though?

Yes! Ron, too, naturally, and Draco Malfoy (who has apparently named a son Scorpius) and Ginny, and yes, Neville, and if you want to see the cast (remember: it’s a play) and see them talk about their characters (alert: Anthony Boyle on Scorpius is pretty surprising), you can go to the play’s Facebook page.

5. If I did want to read spoilers, where would I go?

Not here.

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