Harry Potter and the onset of middle age - on stage

By Dionne Christian

Character now is an overworked official at the Ministry of Magic who juggles the roles of husband and father.
Paul Thornley will play Ron Weasley, Noma Dumezweni will be Hermione Granger and Jamie Parker, Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo / Supplied
Paul Thornley will play Ron Weasley, Noma Dumezweni will be Hermione Granger and Jamie Parker, Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo / Supplied

Harry Potter thought it was tough being a teen wizard, but he may find that was nothing compared to nearing middle-age as an overworked official at the Ministry of Magic juggling the roles of husband and father to three school-aged children.

The latest instalment of the multi-million-dollar Harry Potter franchise launches in London in July, not a film but a stage show. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the series and the first official Harry Potter story to be staged, but, of course, not everyone can make it to the Palace Theatre to see it.

So this week fans around the world received some magical news. Author JK Rowling's rehearsal script of the play will be published moments after midnight on Sunday, July 31. The release coincides with the boy wizard's birthday and is the day after Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has its official opening night. Pottermore, Rowling's online encyclopaedia for all things Harry Potter, will simultaneously publish the e-book edition.

So how charmed might Harry's life be? Readers and movie-goers last left him waving off his children at Platform Nine and Three-quarters, 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up after that moment and is staged in two parts because of its "epic nature".

Like all child superstars, it appears Harry has found the transition to adulthood challenging. A short synopsis published on Pottermore revealed he's working at the Ministry of Magic and apparently struggling to find work-life balance with wife Ginerva Weasley and their children.

We're used to Daniel Radcliffe in the role, but this time he'll be played by British actor James Parker. Will Parker, as Harry, be balding? Will he have middle-age spread and be wedded to a Fitbit to help keep him in shape? Do Ginerva, a journalist, and Harry fight? Are they active on the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry PTA? Perhaps the title takes away some of the mystery. According to Pottermore, it focuses on Harry's youngest son, Albus Severus named in memory of Hogwarts' stalwarts Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. He's the middle child and already seems to show a rebellious streak; when his family gathered for the 427th Quidditch World Cup, he supported Brazil - wearing green -- while Harry, older brother James and young sister Lily - were in red for Bulgaria (mum was reporting on the event and therefore in neutral colours).

More seriously, as he was about to depart for Hogwarts, Albus confessed to Harry he feared he might end up in Slytherin, one of Hogwarts' four houses which values ambition, cunning, initiative and leadership. Given he's at school with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry's arch-enemy Draco Malfoy, there could well be fire and brimstone ahead.

Publicity material alludes to this: "While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places."

Rowling's story has been adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany and stars Parker, Noma Dumezweni and Paul Thornley as Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Wait, there's more

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book.

There are plans for four new editions of the book, each representing one of the houses at Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

- NZ Herald

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