06
Feb
12

A Very Potter Musical

A Very Potter Musical

Lost Boys Theatre Company

Metro Arts Studio

2nd – 4th February 2012

If you’ve seen on YouTube, A Very Potter Musical (Book & Score by Darren Criss & A.J. Holmes), you’re already either a big fan or a hater. Haters gonna’ hate, y’all. But the big fans got themselves and their friends along to Metro Arts on the weekend to see The Lost Boys Theatre Company’s stellar starter production. Yes, it was their debut on the Brisbane theatre scene. Yes, there are some things that will improve in future with a little more attention to detail across the board but this was a great, fun, free show, delivered confidently, by a new, fun-loving company who deserves our support.

The brainchild of Joshua Correa (Director) and Sarah Harvey (Producer), the Lost Boys are a group of very young, very talented performers who claim they are “not trying to be the BEST theatre company, just the COOLEST.” A few of the faces are familiar because, well, performers gonna’ perform, aren’t they?

This is not the production you’ll see online. Starkid Productions, a group of music, theatre and dance students from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, created a cheeky parody (for $150) for their families and friends, of J.K. Rowling’s successful stories about The Boy Who Lived and helped by other comedies such as Starship and Me and My Dick – I didn’t make that up – very quickly discovered a worldwide cult fan base of epic proportions. A Very Potter Musical Act 1 Scene 1 has over 8 million hits on YouTube!

If you’ve been living under a rock or at Pigfarts, on Mars, you might not know the story so here’s a brief synopsis. Reluctant kid wizard, Harry Potter (The Boy Who Lived), returns for a new year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with his friends, Hermione and Ron, basically to study as little as possible and to kill Harry’s nemesis, Voldemort (The Dark Lord), who is living parasitically at the back of Professor Quirrell’s head. What the Lost Boys have done very well is to make this production their own and in doing so, they have improved on the original.

This Harry Potter is written as a self-absorbed, fame-affected prick and Dakota Striplin, last seen (with Tom Oliver and Emma Taviani) in Oscar Theatre Company’s Spring Awakening (2011), plays it to the hilt, as well as playing guitar throughout, which gives him a real rock star quality – including the unlikeable bits brought about by fame and fortune – lifting the game from the outset. Another notable improvement is that Clay English has choreographed where Starkid has not and despite seeing all of English’s best Broadway/YTT moves in the opening number, the energy and parody benefit.

The band was split, with the drummer on stage, and not just onstage but upstage dead centre, a spot that would otherwise have made a convenient entrance and exit. I hated seeing the tabs either side pushed aside to make way for the performers. The band is terrific (only Musical Director, Ben Murray, is credited in the program), however; early on they drown out unamplified voices. Now, in the small Studio space, the voices shouldn’t need amplification but if you’ve got a loud band and inexperienced singers without the vocal strength required to fill even that small space, do amplify them (or box your band)! Tough gig, Joel Redding (Sound Designer). A simple, open set serves the performers well (Set Designer Daniel Harvey) and, ably lit by Michael Rogerson (Lighting Designer), we focus on the characters and their ridiculous, OTT antics.

Emma Taviani is a sweet, book-hugging Hermione, The Bold and The Beautiful of this production, complete with fixed gazes out front prior to her exits. Tom Oliver is a continuously snacking, hilarious Ron Weasley. This role allows Oliver’s comic and vocal ability to come through in a most relaxed manner. As Severus Snape, Cameron Whitton is the ultimate sneering, gliding, glaring, suspicious professor, making the most of his sweeping and dramatic entrances and exits. In boxer shorts, blue cape and rainbow hat, is Robert Pigdon as Dumbledore, more oddball than endearing, with an odd NYC accent that seemed out of place (as it does in the original). I should mention at this point, in case you’re imagining that due to its British origin, this is a British story with British accents, the vast majority of characters speak (and sing) in American accents. Do the American accents make the show funnier? Not really, just more American. And which generation is enjoying the additional American-accented course language? I wonder. On the other hand, scene-stealer, Lauren Neilson, played pretty Draco Malfoy as the British snob that he is. Although Neilson seemed at first inexperienced or insecure, mimicking the original performance, she warmed to the role, rose to its challenges and ended up delivering a better version of it with some fabulous comedy, mostly in the form of completely over the top choreographed…well, everything! Her every line was supported by fluid and controlled athletic-balletic-Matrix moves that had the audience falling about laughing until we are crying. I would like to see even more time taken over these moves, now that the joke has been tried and tested in front of an audience (and executed with far greater competence than that which we see on YouTube). But sadly, the season is done. Neilson could not have executed many of her moves without the able assistance of her comical henchmen, Lachlan Geraghty (Crabbe) and Nic Mohr (Goyle). Some great character work there. Sally Lloyd was lovely as Ginny Weasely and would certainly develop vocal strength and greater confidence before the end of a longer run.

Together, Anthony Craig as Professor Quirrell and George Kennedy as Voldemort, were bosom buddies of the most bizarre kind. The cooperative work of this kooky couple was fantastic and Kennedy’s song and dance number a showstopper. The ensemble was complete with Dallin Williams (Cedric Diggory), Allison Nipperess (Neville Longbottom), Kristen Barros (Mrs Weasley/Pansy), Kelly Smith (Bellatrix Le’strange), Samantha Lan (Lavender Brown) and Lauren Jimmieson (Cho Chang).

A Very Potter Musical is a wonderfully, funny, quirky show, with catchy, toe-tapping tunes and politically incorrect jibes and in-jokes, which the true fans of Harry Potter must drink up just as easily as their butterbeer, which, strangely, was not available at the theatre, nor downstairs at Verve. An oversight? Too short a season to offer it? Not necessary? I’ve provided a recipe below so you may BYO (Brew Your Own) the next time this show comes to Brisbane. Despite the lack of butterbeer (or chocolate frogs for that matter), the diverse pool of talent involved in this production indicates that The Lost Boys Theatre Company is one to watch and this, their debut effort, performed for free, is one to applaud.

The Lost Boys had the kind support of Vast AV, Metro Arts, Elisabeth Harvey, Christian Aas

and Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Butterbeer recipe courtesy of misterhope.com

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