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Day 7 in NYC: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

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And that’s really about all I did. It’s actually “Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2” which is the equivalent of doing 2 shows in one day.

I’d slept OK the night before, 6 hours or so, up before 6am. I had nothing planned except the shows so took my time putting the blog together and otherwise having a lazy vacation morning. I left about 10:30am.

My plan was to have lunch in the Times Square area before the 2pm show. I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet but needed something so went to a little place around the corner from the house.

Front of Froth, a cafe a few blocks away
Front of Froth, a cafe a few blocks away

This is on the same street as the place I’d had breakfast the day before.

The main area of the cafe: a communal table in the middle seating about 8, the counter and cashier in the background, front door to the far left
The main area of the cafe
A maroon couch against the wall, coffee table in front of it, small chair to the left side of the table; door to restroom in the far right corner
This was the little area to the far right of the counter where I sat

I got a latte and a croissant and sat on that couch playing a game on my phone – the first time I’ve played it in a week. I’ve also had a significant increase in Facebook activity since the conference so indulged in that in this comfortable spot. Lost in laziness this morning.

Between sitting there longer than I should have and the bus being late, I didn’t get to Midtown until 1pm. Theoretically that’s plenty of time to still have lunch before a 2pm show. Except as I walked by the theater I saw this incredible line already outside and it made me nervous. I thought, well, I’m going to an “all you can eat” place for dinner for maybe I’ll just skip lunch and snack at the show. So that’s what I did.

Marquee of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
This was the back entrance from 42nd St

Yes, I’m a Harry Potter nerd. Enough to have read all of the books 3x, own all of the movies on DVD, and visited Warner Bros Studios in London last year to see the sets. So if I’m on a Broadway trip and there’s a Harry Potter show, it’s going to happen.

Cursed Child is based on an original story for JK Rowling, along with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. It picks up exactly where the last book/movie left off. The first scene of the play is the last scene of Deathly Hallows: Harry, Hermione, and Ron at 9 3/4 sending their kids off to Hogwarts some 20 years later. Harry and Ginny have 3 kids; the Cursed Child is the middle one, Albus Severus, who has a very difficult relationship with his father.

On the Hogwarts Expres,s Albus meets up with Scorpious Malfoy, son of Draco, an odd boy and a bit of a misfit. I won’t go into too much more but the story is about adventures these two get into by playing with time using the time-turner, only a more advanced device since Prisoner of Azkaban, allowing you to go back years.

A beam of light form a perfect circle in the back wall streaming down onto the stage
This is how the stage was lit when you entered; although you can’t tell from this photo, the light is coming from a clock

Having read the story, what I was most looking forward to was the staging – how would they pull it off? From the moment they walked through 9 3/4 and were magically wearing Hogwarts robes right before your eyes (seriously, how did they do that?) I knew it would be fun. There was also a polyjuice potion scene – where you literally turn into someone else – that was very well done.

The story itself focuses a lot on the relationship between Harry and Albus. Part 1 ends with a pretty dramatic cliffhanger – I’d almost wished I hadn’t read the book when I heard the gasps of the audience since I knew what was coming. And a “To be continued….” sign appears on stage and that’s it. No curtain call. Come back for the 7:30!

Outside of the restaurant, Becco
Becco on 46th Street between 8th & 9th Aves

My friends Art and Mike (really Mike!) had suggested I check out Becco while I’m here as a great “before show” place to have dinner. It’s on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Aves, along with many places to eat (this block is nicknamed Restaurant Row).

A row of empty tables to my left, the bar in front of that, with an aisle in between
I got here about 5:20 and it was still quite empty. That was NOT the case when I left around 6:30 – this placed was Packed.

This was the dining room and bar that’s on the left side of the restaurant. The right side where you enter has a completely different ambience, much more light, white tablecloths, etc. Both sides were stuffed with people by the time I left – so many out for their pre-show meals.

Three kinds of bread in a basket, white bean paste, olives
Their version of chips and salsa

Three different kinds of bread, a white bean paste, and olives were brought to the table shortly after I sat down. Good thing because at that point I was starving – all I’d eaten all day was that croissant and some popcorn during the show.

The reason I came was due to what Mike had described to me: a daily chef’s special of 3 different pastas served tableside, all you can eat. When the waiter asked if I wanted to hear the specials: No, thank you. I told him what I’d come for. “Do you want to know what the pastas are?” Me: “I guess, sure!” It really didn’t matter, but it was good to get the explanation.

Caesar salad
Caesar salad

You had a choice between Caesar salad or antipasto to start so I went with salad. Will get the other next time. (Yes, there will be a next time.)

3 kinds of pasta on one plate
3 kinds of pasta on one plate

The 3 pastas were: a simple spaghetti with marinara, a wonderful dish that included bacon and cauliflower – two of my favorites. But the star of the show was a semolina gnocchi. Wow. I’m usually not a big gnocchi fan because it’s often too heavy for my taste but this was incredible, made into patties really, and one side of them were grilled crisp. This was the best meal I’ve had this trip so far.

Cannoli
Cannoli for dessert

I wish they hadn’t dumped powdered sugar on it, otherwise this cannoli was great – with pistachios and chocolate chips inside.

I made my way back to the theater around 6:45 probably and came in from the main entrance on 43rd. This is on the same block as the Westin Times Square where I stayed for the conference so I was very familiar (and got a little excited every time I walked by it during the preceding week…).

A more extravagent marquee for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; the flying bird's nest is way up on the rooftop
This is the main entrance from 43rd St with a more elaborate marquee than the other; notice the flying bird’s nest top right

So what’s up with the bird’s nest? I couldn’t figure it out when I read the story, and the play didn’t help much so I looked it up. The nest and wings represent an Augurey, a creature from the HP world whose “cry foretold death” (a line from the play). One of the characters has a great affinity to this creature; the child in in the nest is Albus, who is unknowingly caught up in this character’s plans.

A large skull symbol representing Voldemort lit up on the stage
This was how Part 1 ended, and welcomed us back for Part 2

That image represents Voldemort who, in a world unchanged by time, was killed by Harry Potter in Deathly Hallows. But in a world where time has changed, anything is possible.

If you are a Harry Potter person the entire show is quite enjoyable. Poor guy sitting behind me hadn’t read the books nor seen any of the movies so quite a bit was lost on him. I was trying to figure out why he was even there. I knew from the moment I entered this house was filled with Nerds – you could tell by the energy, the way they dressed (one woman wore a dress of the Marauder’s Map), and just the conversations being had. If you’re not a Harry Potter person, you might still enjoy it, but not quite as much. It’s very clever and there are several “how are they going to get out of this?” twists in the storyline that are fun to follow.

The show ended about 10pm, I was home just after 11.

Today is July 4 and I have nothing planned. Will see tomorrow what I came up with!

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