Harry’s Return

Oh, Harry how I missed you (Spoiler alert ahead for folks who haven’t read any of the series). How long has it been? I remember the midnight openings. Kids dressed in robes. Faces painted. Witch hats. Magic wands. It didn’t really matter that Wal-Mart would have stacks of the latest book out the next day. I reserved mine weeks in advance. At the time, I didn’t have any kids. I just wanted to go for myself. And parents know that the joy/benefit of having children is an excuse to be a kid again. Still, I loved the energy inside the bookstore, kids grabbing their book shortly after the clock struck 12.01AM, and running home to read it. A few sat criss-cross applesauce on the tile floor and immediately turned to the first page. There was no reason to wait.

These tales made a generation find books again. I was glad the Cursed Child showed up on Harry’s birthday last month.

Yet, some folks were not. I’ve read numerous articles about the disappointment that this isn’t a true book. Rowling didn’t even write the story. This wasn’t what I was expecting. Oh, the outcry. To me, none of that matters. It’s still a story, told through a new lens.

Personally, I thought this was a shrewd business move, branching out to new markets. Plays can make money. Sure, 80 plus percent go bankrupt. The remaining 20 make up all the profit. Those are some great works. Phantom of the Opera. Wicked. Peter Pan. We all know this story will run for an extended period of time. It will also tour across the world, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars along the way. The current box office champ is the Lion King. My favorite is Cats. Memory, all alone in the moonlight.

For me, I didn’t mind reading Harry in this format. I’ve read Shakespeare’s work. The Tempest is one of my favorites. Plays are wonderful because we can use our imagination to fill in the blanks. We also know these characters. We know what Harry’s scar looks like, that Hermione had read most of the books at Hogwarts, and the fierce loyalty Ron shows for his friends. We read along as the trio grew up. And we know what evil looks like. The Dementor’s kiss. Tom Riddle’s diary. The Dark wand. Basilisks (the giant snake in Chamer of Secrets). Some of us shed tears when Sirius Black died.

It’s pretty easy to populate this world on our own. We know Harry Potter.

My only fault with the Cursed Child is that the misdirection didn’t work for me. The books were known for it (she still writes mystery novels). I think we were all a bit surprised Snape wasn’t the bad guy in the first story. For the Cursed Child, we knew this was Harry’s kid. He wasn’t going to turn out evil. Without Rowling’s details, it was easy to see the protagonist from a country mile. No, I didn’t piece together the backstory but we knew where evil stood in this one. This is nothing but a minor complaint. The story touched on the challenges of parenthood, the value of friendship, and that you shouldn’t change your fate (even if you could). One day, I’ll find a way to see the play, even if London travel is required. Why not?

So, give this a read. It’s good to see playbills back in the limelight. When was the last time you read a good play? And who better to return the stage to greatness than Harry? Who would have thought a script was going to be the highest-grossing book of the year? Perhaps, we all did. Avada Kedavra. Expelliarmus. I’m glad the magic has returned.

Cliff Notes:

  • Thought it would be worth revisiting the sales numbers for the Potter series. Each book sold over 50M, with the first book (Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone) grossing over 107M. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sold over 2M in its first two days.
  • I took the picture of the book from a slight angle.
  • Unfortunately, this level of experimentation hasn’t translated to the latest Fantastic Beasts series.