Stage: Cursed Child enchants West End; Hamilton turns one year old
There’s something other than Hamilton that’s spellbinding theatergoers. The Cursed Child, the much-anticipated Harry Potter continuation, has finally arrived on stages after some fan backlash for a certain race-bending casting. Still, that’s not the only thing going on in the stage world; the Q Brothers are moving to New York, this time to put a funky spin on Shakespeare. Aladdin has performed its one-thousandth broadway show. Oh, and of course there’s still a ton of stuff going on with Hamilton.
The Cursed Child casts a spell: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened in West End theaters in London on July 31 after a huge amount of fan speculation and controversy. The play, advised by Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling, cast Noma Dumezweni as the iconic witch Hermione Granger, who received backlash from some fans. Played by Emma Watson in the film franchise, the play reimagines Granger, who in this play serves as the Minister of Magic, as a black woman. “Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job,” Rowling said of the casting. The author has frequently praised the actress’s portrayal of Hermione.
After its debut, fans are still frustrated at the play, but for a much different reason. The play has sold out shows through 2017; which sold hundreds of thousands of tickets within hours. With three hundred seats per show, the play raffles roughly forty tickets a week allowing fans, who weren’t able to purchase a ticket through 2017, a chance at witnessing the magic. Dumezweni and the play have received glowing reviews from fans, critics, and Watson herself, who said meeting Dumezweni was like “meeting [her] older self.”
All things Hamilton: The Cursed Child might give some friendly competition to Hamilton, which has seemingly dominated Broadway since 1776. Earlier this month, playwright and Alexander Hamilton, portrayed by Lin Manuel-Miranda, exited the play along with cast mates Leslie Odom Jr. and Phillipa Soo. However, this probably won’t be the last we’ll see of this talented trio. In fact, Odom Jr. has his next gig lined up with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where he’ll be performing this winter.
The musical has found success by recounting early American history with infectious rap and reggae music and a cast played almost entirely by people of color. Since its 2015 release, the musical has grossed over $94 billion and won eleven Tonys plus a Grammy. As if that wasn’t enough, the play celebrated its one year anniversary on August 6.
Upcoming plays: The Q Brothers’ Othello: The Remix will debut off Broadway in New York this fall. Originally debuting in Chicago in 2013, the musical is a hip-hop rethinking of the Shakespeare classic tragedy. The show was written, directed and composed by GQ and JQ, who stars in the show alongside Postell Pringle and Jackson Doran. The Q Brothers’ previous work includes The Bomb-itty of Errors and Funk It Up About Nothin. The duo will tackle Shakespeare again in I <3 Juliet. You can guess what play the latter is based on.
Broadway must really <3 Shakespeare because a revival of his comedy Twelfth Night is also in the works. The production will be headlined by Jose Llana and Nikki M. James, the latter of which is a Tony Award winner for her work in The Book of Mormon. They will play twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck and live drastically different lives. The show will feature over two hundred actors and members of the community. It will be shown for free at the Delacorte Stage in Central Park.
Rehearsals for Stephen Karam’s play The Cherry Orchard began August 5 just a few days after it was announced that Kyle Beltran would play the role of Trofimov. The play, a classic written by Anton Chekhov, follows a family that does not know what to do with their estate located on a cherry orchard; now that they can’t longer afford it. The star-studded cast includes Chuck Cooper, Harold Perrineau, Maurice Jones, Ian Lassiter and Carl Hendrick Louis.
Awards and milestones: You can’t wish for a thousand wishes, but you can wish for a thousand shows. The Broadway production of Aladdin performed its one thousandth show on Saturday, August 6. The show, which originally opened March 20, 2014, features a cast lead by Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed and James Monroe Iglehart. Aladdin won’t need any more wishes to become Broadway royalty.
Danai Gurira, Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey are among those who will be honored at the Annual Theater Group Communications Gala this November. Gurira is a playwright for the Tony-nominated 2015 play Eclipsed and also known for her role in the popular TV show The Walking Dead. Byrd and Jones-Harvey both served as producers for Eclipsed, which centers on Liberia’s civil war. The trio will be honored alongside the Vilcek Foundation, which supports the work of immigrant artists.