The boy who keeps on living
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
“If we can’t go forward, why shouldn’t we go back,” said Robert Wilson, as Lucius Malfoy in Alpha Psi Omega’s (APO) performance of “A Very Potter Sequel” on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
“It’s a sequel that’s also a prequel,” said Micah Black, senior in political science, member of APO and director of the performance. “The first scene takes place in the present, after the events of ‘A Very Potter Musical,’ and then we jump back in time to Harry’s first year at Hogwarts.”
Samuel Hardy, senior in secondary math education, says a good way to describe the musical is taking all the goodness of the HP series, tossing it all together and seeing what comes out.
Each year APO, the national theater honor society at PSU, does a social service project to benefit a local charity. This year the production of “A Very Potter Sequel” will benefit CHOICES, the local homeless shelter in Pittsburg. There will be a second showing of the performance tonight, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Grubbs Studio Theater.
“After our immensely fun and rewarding experience producing ‘A Very Potter Musical’ last spring, this was the obvious choice for our next performance,” said Taylor Patterson, junior in communication and president of APO. “We raised over $900 last year. This year we hope to raise a similar amount to donate to CHOICES.”
More than 20 students, both members and non-members of APO, are participating in the musical.
“It’s weird to think of our childhood without Harry Potter,” said Kevin McNay, freshman in plastic engineering, who plays Sirius Black.
Breezi Hancock, freshman in communication education who portrays Draco Malfoy, agrees.
“Our generation is relatively the same age as the characters,” she said. “We were the ones who waited in line for the books to go on sale, we dressed up for the midnight premieres, we grew up with HP.”
The cast unanimously agree the Umbridge family and their relationship its favorite part of the sequel/prequel.
“Lady Umbridge is pretty hilarious,” Hancock said.
Hardy added this musical has no waltz to master, an aspect he and others were grateful for.
“For those of us who have small main roles we also get to play a variety of characters with even smaller roles,” said Elle Walker, senior in communication. “It’s fun jumping on stage as a human one second, a bird the next.”
The cast encourages students wishing to attend the final performance to come early, as seating is limited to 150.
“We were sold out last year,” Patterson said. “We are selling about 40 early admission tickets for $20 or a backpack. The early admission money, concession sales and HP merchandise we sell will benefit CHOICES. The backpacks we will send to the Children’s Advocacy Center, the charity we helped last year.”
Very Funny Prequel
| Jay Benedict reporter |
The worst thing about “A Very Potter Sequel” is that it’s running only two nights.
Not that it’s not without flaws, but it was entertaining throughout. Any college production, especially one on a small budget, can suffer from less-than-stellar sets and costumes. This show rises above all that with humor and strong the characters.
Some of the jokes are recycled from other works (like Harry and Ron’s bro moment over Red Vines), but when adapted for the Potter universe, they feel a little fresher than they normally would.
It sometimes isn’t the highest-brow comedy (Neville Schlongbottom), but these days, that passes easily. Most of it works well. There are some toilet jokes (at Draco’s expense), some references to genitalia and cursing.
Some of the jokes were a little on the inside, but that’s safe because who (especially in the target demographic) doesn’t know something about Harry Potter? However, coming in to the production without prior knowledge would diminish the experience.
Humor is what drives this musical. Much of the humor comes from the tweaks that have been made to characters. They are all caricatures of their literary counterparts.
Taylor Patterson, as usual, owned her times on stage as a gay, Jersey-accented Dumbledore. Umbridge (Austin Vanbecelaere) shines as a cross between someone who is ‘roid raging and a drill sergeant. Dean Thomas went gangster. Lupin (Jake Forsythe) is a drunk who insists he’s Harry’s dad’s best friend. Cho Chang is a Southern Belle. Snape (Jacob Hacker) is over the top, but it feels right and is at times endearing.
The big three of Harry, Ron and Hermione are all played well. Harry and Ron have a bromance from the start and make jokes at the expense of “Herman” Hermione Granger before they all come together.
The plot is simple and easy to follow. At times, it gets a bit sidetracked in the middle, but the laughs keep it from bogging down. The story is hung on the simple premise that Voldemort has been defeated and Lucius Malfoy goes back in time to the gang’s first year at Hogwarts to stop Harry before he becomes a threat.
“A Very Potter Sequel” packs a lot of punch for a student-produced show. It’s evident that a lot of time, effort and love for the source material went into it. The production takes its liberties with the lore and the characters, but that’s what is needed. This universe is well-known. The new take makes it fresh and all the more enjoyable.