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In Pop Culture: "Cursed Child" Brings Back the Magic of Harry Potter

08/01/2016


JSU senior Megan Wise won a local costume contest for her Hermione outfit.

By Katie Cline, JSU English and Communications major, Ravenclaw and self-proclaimed biggest Potterhead in the world 

Author’s note: The following does not contain plot spoilers for "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."

July 31st has long been the most magical day of the year for fans of JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. Potterheads around the world celebrate it as the day that the series’ title character was born. It’s also the birthday of Rowling, the creator of the Wizarding World.

This year, on Harry’s 36th birthday and Rowling’s 51st, the party was bigger than ever, as it was also the day that “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” was released into the hands of eager fans everywhere. Bookstores worldwide held release parties to celebrate the occasion and offered customers the opportunity to pre-order the book.

Books-A-Million in Oxford, Ala. hosted such a party, complete with a Sorting Hat ceremony, Harry Potter trivia, a costume contest and Butterbeer! Witches and wizards from all-around gathered to celebrate their love of the messy-haired boy wizard and his friends who stole their hearts years ago. Most of the guests were young adults in their 20s and 30s, the same people who read the books and watched the movies when they were first released. It was a high-energy, high-anticipation time of laughing, reminiscing and fact trading as the clock slowly ticked to midnight.

JSU senior Megan Wise was named the grand prize winner of the costume contest for her movie-realistic depiction of Hermione Granger. She received a Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit game and the honor of being the first in line for her book at midnight. 

“‘Harry Potter’ has been a staple in my life for the majority of my life, and it was like seeing an old friend again with this new book release,” Wise said. “I put everything I could into this celebration and, because of the costume contest, I was able to receive the first book of the night. Aside from the tears I shed over that, the moment was simply magical!”

The eighth installment of Rowling’s literary phenomenon begins where the epilogue of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” left off. We see Harry and Ginny, now happily married, send their middle son, Albus Severus Potter, off for his first year of Hogwarts. Albus’ older brother, James Sirius Potter, has already been sorted into Gryffindor, and his sister, Lily Luna Potter, is still too young to attend Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione are also in the opening scene with their two children, Rose and Hugo. Albus gets to Hogwarts and classic Potter shenanigans ensue. In the words of Ron Weasley, “Can we ever just have a quiet year at Hogwarts?” And the answer is, “No.”

The only catch is that “Cursed Child” is not the 400+ page novel that Rowling fans are accustomed to; it’s not even entirely written by Rowling herself! The story is told in script form, because “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” made its debut onstage at the Palace Theatre in London. The production is based on Rowling’s story, and she worked closely with John Thorne and Jack Tiffany who adapted it for the stage. It stars Jamie Parker as Harry, Poppy Miller as Ginny, Sam Clemmett as Albus Potter, Noma Dumezweni as Hermione, Paul Thornley as Ron, Cherelle Skeete as Rose Granger-Weasley, Alex Price as Draco Malfoy and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy. The play has received four and five-star reviews from British newspapers The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph.

The fan response, however, has been mixed. Only two days out from the script’s release and fans have some pretty strong opinions. It may be the unfamiliar format, the addition of cowriters or the fact that the focus has been taken off the Golden Trio (Harry, Ron and Hermione), but some vocal Twitter fans are refusing to accept “Cursed Child” as canon. On the other hand, many fans loved the script and embraced the newness and nostalgia that it created.

Whether you’ve been impatiently waiting for more Harry Potter since 2007, or if you picked up “Cursed Child” because you remember liking the movies as a kid, there’s no denying that the “Harry Potter” series has changed the scope of young adult literature. With seven novels, one play, eight movies, a theme park and several popular YouTube spoofs (look up “Potter Puppet Pals” and “A Very Potter Musical,” in case you’re unfamiliar), “Harry Potter” is more than just a book series. For many, it’s a way of life, a constant light in an ever-darkening world and a reminder that love is the greatest magic of all.

And it will be with us. Always.

Students dressed in Harry Potter costumes

JSU students and Potterheads, from left: Camie McKenzie, Eric Cline, Katie Cline, Megan Wise, Leah George and Stephen Smith.

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