Why Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is worthy of Olivier nominations
I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer that I do not work in theatre but I do see a lot of theatre and spend a lot of time thinking about it. So I suppose you could say I am a fairly knowledgeable member of the general population when it comes to it. Anyway I think I know enough for my thoughts to be valid.
Last week it was announced that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had been nominated for 11 olivier awards. This was followed by A LOT of joy in my circles but a lot of annoyance and a little hate in others. People who have just read the script are still arguing that the the play is bad. They’re basing their entire opinion on flat words on a page and this is incredibly unfair and, to be honest, pretty stupid. The richness of a story comes from the production and the fact that this play has picked up nominations for such prestigious awards speaks volumes.
Cursed Child has two battles to win to gain recognition. First from ‘theatre people’ who may have initially seen the play as a fandom-based play, not to be taken too seriously. This has largely been dismissed since people have actually seen it. Secondly from fans, who were disappointed by the script which seemed flat, a bit ridiculous and not true to the original series. I will go into why Cursed Child should be considered canon in another post but here I want to express why each of these nominations is deserved. I know the Oliviers are going to be different to the Whats on Stage awards as they’re not fan voted, and Cursed Child probably won’t win then all, as the categories are filled with such talent, but I think the nominations are so worthy.
Outstanding achievement in music Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – composer and arranger: Imogen Heap at Palace theatre
- If you haven’t had a chance to see the play yet, most of the music used in Cursed Child has been previously released by Imogen Heap and you can listen to my friend Emily’s spotify playlist of it here. Obviously its all in different orders and there are a lot of subtle differences in the songs but it gives you a good idea.
Heaps music has the ability to pull you through the rollercoster of emotions the play makes you feel. The music makes the movement sequences look seamless and beautiful and the harsher scenes ever more dramatic and truly frightening in places. Having seen it so much, I can pick up the places that the same song is used and it provides incredible continuity throughout the play.
Best theatre choreographer Steven Hoggett for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
I had never seen such stunning movement in a play before seeing Cursed Child. They do a lot of cloak work, which unfortunately there are no stots of in the few official videos we have but it looks amazing. The movement works so perfectly with the music and provides the rhythm and pace for the story and makes it feel magical.
White Light award for best lighting design Neil Austin for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
There is a moment in Part 1 Act 1 where the ensemble performers step back into darkness and launch themselves forwards into this perfect lighting and its one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on stage. Theres also a scene where multicolour lights go up around the auditorium after the line “Hogwarts” and the mixture of colours makes even the casual fans I’ve taken want to give up the muggle world and go find that castle. When time is turning something that makes every single audience I’ve sat in gasp happens and its a gift. Finally, the lighting is so vital in this play that it allows certain characters to exist.
Best sound design Gareth Fry for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
I have mentioned cloak work, and this is accompanied by cloak swooshing noises that also throw so much rhythm into the story. The last scene of Part 1 is terrifying and that has a lot to do with the sound design. Its suddenly very loud and encompasses everything. The battle scene in Part 2 is also a masterpiece. basically the sound moves around the room and if you’re sat in the middle of the auditorium its overwhelmingly good.
Best costume design Katrina Lindsay for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
The costumes are stunning. There’s no other way to describe them- even the school cloaks are really, really beautiful. You can see how Ron, Harry, hermione and Ginny would absolutely be wearing what they are as adults and it helps the audience really get onboard with them as adults. Just the sheer amount of customs in this play is phenomenal. Everytime I see the play I’ll notice a new cloak one of the ensemble are wearing and be in awe. Not only are the costumes important for creating the characters but they need to be designed so that a lot of the tricks can work.
Blue-i Theatre Technology award for best set design Christine Jones for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
The Palace already looks like Hogwarts but when you look onto the stage, it looks like you’re looking into a portal to the magical world. The way the set changes in incredibly creative ways means you don’t have to force your imagination to believe where the characters are, it just happens naturally.
Best actor in a supporting role Anthony Boyle for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
I could write an essay about why this man is so amazing. He embodies Scorpius. There isn’t a single second of the play where he slips out of character even when he’s just in the background of the scene he’ll be fiddling with his sleeve or untying and re-tying his laces. He shows that Scorpius is awkward so perfectly. His voice is perfect (and must hurt the amount he has to do it), he is on stage pretty much the whole play and I’ve never seen him mess up more than some really insignificant line slips and I really, really believe him.
He brings such commitment to this play with his high-energy and you can tell how much he’s thought about his character by the way he changes up his delivery all the time but it still works perfectly. I feel incredibly privileged to have watched his character growth since last June. I mean, he was amazing at the beginning but how he’s flawless and I’m so so blessed to have been able to see him.
Best actress in a supporting role Noma Dumezweni for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
As soon as she steps onto the stage, she is Hermione. There doesn’t need to be an adjustment period because she’s so different to Emma, she just gets her. Hermiones character is so multi-faceted and Noma brings the stern and softer sides to her out so effortlessly. It is so easy to see the this powerful Minister is also a pretty amazing mum. She’s the first feminsit character I came across and that was so important- its amazing that she grew up as strong and brilliant as she has and Noma was the perfect casting for a woman so vital to so many girls lives. She is the Hermione we know and love but with so much more depth as an adult- you really get character growth from the 18 year old we left and thats a gift.
Best actor Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
Believe it or not, this is a very emotionally heavy play. Particularly in part 2, I’m in awe of everything that Jamie portrays. He makes me cry every time. There is a scene in part 2 with a character that I don’t want to say is in it because its a big spoiler but he leans on his desk and cries and Draco shows up at the end of it. Anyway, this scene really breaks down everything Harry feels and Jamie clearly really, really get him. That is so important to fans and it feels like he’s absolutely done Harry justice as the complicated, messed up but incredibly loving adult.
Best director John Tiffany for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre
Every single aspect of this play fits together like a perfect puzzle. Every performer works with the next perfectly. The genius of this production is actually magic. There isn’t a moment where something feels out of place or a line is delivered awkwardly- its a directing masterpiece.
Virgin Atlantic best new play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre