The lights drop and a shiver runs through the audience as two massive figures appear on stage, hissing and floating as if suspended in water.

What happens next causes my seat neighbour and me to clutch on to each other and there are audible screams and gasps from around the theatre.

To find out what that was however, you'll have to make your way across the Ditch, where the magic of Harry Potter has been captured in astounding detail for one of the biggest, most successful and certainly most unique stage shows the world has ever seen.

Harry Potter fans will remember the unmatched feeling of anticipation around a new book or film release in the franchise, and that returns to us now some eight years after the final film was released, in the form of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.


The two-part play picks up where J.K. Rowling's last book left off, 19 years after Harry Potter's adventures, as he and his friends tackle parenthood, adulthood and their children face off against a new dark threat.

"Critically acclaimed" is an understatement for the play that recently touched down in Melbourne.

It is the most awarded production in the history of Britain's Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking nine trophies, including Best New Play and Best Director. It won six Tony Awards including Best Play, six Outer Critics Circle Awards, five Drama Desk Awards and was the most awarded show of the Broadway season.

The New York Times called it "a remarkable production of all-consuming enchantment" and the Rolling Stone predicted it "will soon be the stuff of legend", saying: "It's more than the best new play of the season. It's some kind of miracle."

Sitting in Melbourne's Princess Theatre witnessing that miracle first hand, it's easy to see why it's so lauded.

Not only is there all the warmth and intimacy of traditional theatre, you get the flash and showbiz of a Broadway epic and the sheer magic of Harry Potter. And "magic" in this context is meant literally.

Albus and Scorpius hatch a plan in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo / Matt Murphy
Albus and Scorpius hatch a plan in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo / Matt Murphy

Cursed Child is packed full of insane magic tricks from optical illusions to quick changes to disappearing acts and even people swapping bodies - right in front of your eyes. Every trick is met with gasps and immediately followed up with murmurings along the lines of "what the hell just happened?" and "how did they do that?"

Even the transitions between set changes are seeped in magic, as the swish of a cloak whisks away set pieces and props, and magic staircases dance across the stage in a kind of ballet.


This is only the third iteration of this play to be produced, with the other two runs taking place on London's West End and New York's Broadway. This is also the first time a new company - in this case made up of more than 40 Kiwis and Aussies, including Kiwi actor
Gareth Reeves (Go Girls, Underbelly, Pete's Dragon) as the legendary Harry Potter himself - has taken on the script, under the watchful eye of co-creator and director John Tiffany.

The entire Princess Theatre has transformed just to house it, featuring Potter-themed carpets, wallpaper, light fixtures, upholstery and decor. The council changed the road outside to create a forecourt for fans to gather and take selfies out front, the staff wear Hogwarts uniforms - all having been sorted into the respective houses - and permanent Potter merchandise stores have taken up residence.

The Potters and Granger-Weasleys share the stage in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo / Supplied
The Potters and Granger-Weasleys share the stage in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo / Supplied

Make no mistake, this isn't just a nostalgia-based money grab. This is one of the biggest shows the theatre world has seen. It's for that reason that Kiwis will have to travel to see it.

A trip to Australia might seem extravagant, but fans will not be disappointed. Cursed Child perfectly plays into the story we know and love, reliving certain moments and playing on certain memories to tug on the heartstrings or even just give a nod to fans.

I wish I could write about everything that happened or describe the absolute magic (both figurative and literal), but the call for audiences to #keepthesecrets is a tough one to ignore.

John Tiffany wasn't allowed to so much as send an email while writing the play. He and playwright Jack Thorne had to courier USB drives instead and Tiffany once nearly made a reviewer cry when he rebuked her for publishing plot secrets.

Kiwi star Gareth Reeves says he's "Never known anything like it", adding: "This play has done a superb job of recapturing that world, it feels so familiar and yet full of surprises.

"Melbourne is the closest this play will get to New Zealand so your best chance to see it. Spend two nights seeing your childhood come to life…you can always go to Rarotonga next year. This is a once in a lifetime."

What: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Where: On now, only at Melbourne's Princess Theatre
Go: See for details and tickets

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is one play presented as two parts - you can either see both shows together on the same day or each part, two nights in a row. Ticket prices start from AU$65 per part.