Harry Potter and the Cursed Child celebrates its 7th birthday in the West End

The enchanting West End play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is joyously celebrating its 7th anniversary on Sunday, July 30, 2023, in the heart of London. This beloved production first began its captivating run at the illustrious Palace Theatre on July 30, 2016, and has been delighting audiences ever since. In fact, over 1.5 million spectators have been entranced by the magic of the play, attending a staggering 1,149 performances.

The success of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not waning; it is now booking its enchanting performances until May 19, 2024, in the West End. During the past 7 years, the play has garnered more than 60 prestigious awards, including an impressive nine Laurence Olivier Awards (including Best New Play) and six Tony Awards (including Best New Play).

A Magical World of Fun Facts

Beyond the captivating storyline and mesmerizing performances, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child boasts a treasure trove of fascinating backstage secrets. Every night, the show comes to life with the help of 560 costumes and 100 wigs for the talented 42-strong London cast. What’s more, there are 53 dedicated individuals behind the scenes, working tirelessly to make the magic happen. Over the course of 7 years at the Palace Theatre, an astounding 42 wands have been used to cast an incredible 57,450 spells. Truly, the magic never ceases!

Meet the Talented London Cast

The current London cast includes an array of talented actors, with James Howard shining as Draco Malfoy. James, who has been part of the show since its inception, is deeply devoted to his role and has shared his thoughts on portraying such an iconic character. Other brilliant cast members include Sam Crane as Harry Potter, Frances Grey as Ginny Potter, Thomas Grant as Albus Potter, Thomas Aldridge as Ron Weasley, Michelle Gayle as Hermione Granger, Grace Wylde as Rose Granger-Weasley, and Adam Wadsworth as Scorpius Malfoy. The cast is further complemented by the exceptional performances of Gabriel Akamo, Troy Alexander, Harry Ames, David Annen, Sue Appleby, Sabina Cameron, Phil Cheadle, Robert Curtis, Tim Dewberry, Iskandar Eaton, Lewis Edgar, Jack Gardner, Jemma Gould, Kelton Hoyland, April Hughes, Max Hutchinson, Emma Louise Jones, Tom Mackean, David Mara, James McGregor, Kathryn Meisle, Gigi Noel-King, Melaina Pecorini, Niamh Perry, Ruchi Rai, Ian Redford, Rosalind Steele, Tom Storey, Joshua Talbot, Susan Vidler, and Wreh-asha Walton. Benedict Archer, Hector Baldwin, Chloe Grant, Honor Hastings, Harry Munson, Delilah O’Riordan, and Jude Parry alternate in two children’s roles.

The Visionary Minds Behind the Play

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child emerges from the imaginative minds of J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. The captivating tale is written by Jack Thorne and skillfully directed by John Tiffany. The play’s magic comes to life through the collaborative efforts of the creative team, including movement by Steven Hoggett, set by Christine Jones, costumes by Katrina Lindsay, music and arrangements by Imogen Heap, lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Gareth Fry, illusions and magic by Jamie Harrison, music supervision and arrangements by Martin Lowe, and casting by Julia Horan CDG. The production is a masterpiece brought to life by Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender, and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions.

An Exclusive Interview with James Howard, Star of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

To commemorate the 7th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we had the privilege of sitting down with the talented James Howard, who has been captivating audiences as Draco Malfoy since the very beginning. He shared some insights into his journey and experiences with the show.

Interviewer: Tell us about your early years working on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. How did you originally get cast for the show?

James: I auditioned for the show in early 2016, and the process was incredibly secretive. We were only given parts of the script to read during the audition, adding to the excitement and intrigue. Being part of this massive project with such a talented team was a dream come true. Our initial previews were electrifying as nobody had ever witnessed this story before. The surprises, reactions, and the magic were enthralling for both the audience and us!

Interviewer: Seven years is a long time to be part of a show. Did you anticipate it becoming such a significant part of your life?

James: I never imagined that this role would become such a significant part of my career and life, but I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible world for so long. Every time I step into the theater, I feel blessed to be part of this production and have made lifelong friendships during these 7 years.

Interviewer: You’ve been playing Draco Malfoy throughout the show’s run. Has your approach to the character evolved over the years?

James: I covered the role of Draco in the first year and then officially took over in May 2017, so I have been playing him throughout the entire journey of the show. Over these years, I have worked with numerous actors and portrayed Draco as he experiences various challenges and growth. While the world around us has changed, the show has remained a constant source of light and inspiration.

Interviewer: How did you prepare for playing Draco? Was it easier or harder because of the books and movies?

James: The books were my primary source of inspiration and preparation. They provide such rich detail about the characters, and it was essential to honor Draco’s experiences and behavior as a child because they shape his character as an adult. The films were also a valuable reference, especially Tom Felton’s brilliant portrayal of the young Draco.

Interviewer: With so many memorable scenes, do you have a favorite moment in the play?

James: There are so many incredible moments in the play, both on stage and off. I particularly adore the Staircase Ballet routine, where Albus and Scorpius are separated by the moving staircases; it’s a beautifully choreographed sequence. Moreover, the reunion between Draco and Scorpius towards the end of the play is always a highlight for me.

Interviewer: The show experiences cast changes yearly. How do these new additions impact your performance?

James: Adjusting to new cast members requires rehearsing the show while still performing with the current company, which can be challenging and tiring. However, every new cast member brings fresh energy and a unique perspective to the show. Working with new actors has been a delight, allowing us to explore new facets of our characters together.

Interviewer: What are the joys and challenges of being part of a long-running West End show?

James: Undoubtedly, the best thing about being part of such a renowned West End show is the audiences. Knowing that every performance will be filled with 1400 enthusiastic spectators, eager to embark on the magical journey with us, is an indescribable feeling. The challenges include keeping the performances fresh and ensuring we have enough rest. Holidays are indeed a precious luxury!

Interviewer: If you had just joined the cast, would your performance as Draco be different?

James: Having been with the production from the beginning, I am intimately familiar with how it was brought to life by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and the entire phenomenal team. However, the show has been expertly maintained over the years, preserving the original heart and soul.

Interviewer: Is it essential for an actor to like the character they play, even if they are perceived as malevolent?

James: I don’t believe an actor needs to like their character, although I personally love Draco. However, understanding what drives the character and their motivations is crucial. Draco’s past traumas and upbringing heavily influenced his behavior, and finding surprising aspects of his character in new situations is both intriguing and rewarding.

Interviewer: How does playing Draco compare to your most challenging roles on stage?

James: Playing Draco is undeniably my favorite role to date, and it comes with its unique challenges. While there are certain difficulties, portraying him is an absolute joy. In my first year, I had the opportunity to cover Harry, and that role demanded more physical and emotional challenges. Nevertheless, I will always prefer being Draco Malfoy!

Interviewer: What kind of reactions do you receive from audiences when you play Draco?

James: What I love most about playing Draco is witnessing the incredible journey his character undergoes throughout Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. By the end of the play, the audience is deeply invested in Draco’s relationship with his son, Scorpius. Hearing their reactions to this connection is incredibly rewarding. Many are pleasantly surprised by how much they come to love the Malfoys!

Interviewer: Thank you, James, for sharing your wonderful experiences and insights with us. We wish you continued success in this magical production!

A Quick Fire Round with James Howard: West End Theatre Edition

Favorite West End theatre and why?

Definitely the Palace Theatre. Its magnificent interior and exterior make it a breathtaking venue. Besides, it feels like Hogwarts!

What was your first acting role?

Apart from the school nativity play, my first amateur role was as one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men in the pantomime “Babes in the Wood.” My first professional role was in “The Duchess of Malfi” at the National Theatre.

What was the last show you enjoyed in London as an audience member and why?

As a theater enthusiast, I relish seeing both plays and musicals. Two recent favorites include “Standing at the Sky’s Edge” and “The Motive and the Cue.”

Which do you love best? The first day of rehearsals, the first night of the show, or the last night?

The first night of the show is truly exhilarating. The adrenaline rush and witnessing the first audience reactions are nothing short of extraordinary. On “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the energy was absolutely electric!

What was your very first theater experience (as either an audience member or actor)?

While I can’t recall my very first experience, I vividly remember watching “Les Misérables” for the first time at the Palace Theatre. Who could have predicted that I would eventually work there years later?

Which role or show have you most enjoyed being part of in your career and why?

Without a doubt, playing Draco in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is the pinnacle of my career. Additionally, I cherished being part of the Donmar Warehouse’s West End productions of “Ivanov” and “Twelfth Night,” both of which were exceptionally beautiful productions.

If someone could only see one musical or play before they die, what should it be?

Well, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” of course! And any production of “Twelfth Night,” preferably with Mark Rylance as Olivia!

What would your profession be if you hadn’t chosen the theater and entertainment industry?

I would have loved to be a lawyer specializing in big court cases. There’s still a lot of performing involved, but perhaps it’s a safer profession!

Join the Magical Journey at the Palace Theatre!

Don’t miss the chance to experience the wonder of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the illustrious Palace Theatre in London. The show is booking until March 3, 2024, and promises to transport you into a world of magic, adventure, and heartwarming relationships. Whether you are a long-time fan of the Harry Potter series or a newcomer to this magical universe, this production is guaranteed to leave you spellbound and enchanted. Book your tickets now for an unforgettable theatrical experience!

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Stevie Flavio
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