Celebrate Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Little Rock

The Half-Blood Prince Release Party
Amanda Galiano

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child releases this weekend and local book sellers are celebrating.  Harry Potter release parties are always a lot of fun for kids, and I expect the latest ones will attract a lot of grown-ups who were kids in 2007 (the date of the last Harry Potter release, I was at the party at the Chenal Barnes and Noble on July 20, 2007).  A lot of the original Harry Potter fans were teens then.  All the original Potter fans will be adults now, with new fans joining the ranks of Hogwarts every year.  If you've been to nearby Orlando and visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios, you know Potter fever hasn't died down.  Muggles love it.

The book release we're celebrating is actually a script for a play.  The play is in two parts and, when produced, is five hours long.  The play is set 19 years after the books. Harry is 37 years old in it and struggling with his life as a civil servant and dad. It's been playing, and selling out, in London in previews since June 7. Audiences were urged to "keep the secrets" of the play so they didn't ruin the book release for Americans, but many online forums have been buzzing with what happens to our favorite characters as they send their kids off to Hogwarts for the first time. 

Reviews are pretty good.  Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the films, said:

Some things about the play were, I think, possibly even more beautiful than the films. Having seen it I felt more connected to Hermione and the stories than I have since Deathly Hallows came out, which was such a gift.

It is a little disappointing that we'll have to read it in book form for now.  British reviewers are saying the words were clearly written for the stage and the transitions and stage craft are magical.  Some fans had a bit of criticism that some of the characters are superficial and some of the five hours is monotonous and convoluted, but the play is still in previews so it's bound to go through some revisions. 

James Hibberd, of Entertainment Weekly, says:

Author J.K. Rowling, working with London theatre veterans Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, have delivered a production that’s as spectacular as it is ambitious, stuffed with special effects and twists that had a preview audience gasping, Cursed Child is a story that doesn’t play it safe with the Potter canon and will change how fans see certain favorite characters forever. A-

The imagination of Potter fans everywhere is also magical.  Maybe the spectacle in our heads will be better than the spectacle on stage, and you can be sure that it's going to be on Broadway or at least somewhere in America at some point (maybe at the Robinson or the Rep).  Maybe it won't be two parts and five hours long by the time it gets to a traveling show.  Potter fans say there is content enough for at least two books over the course of the play. 

Rowling has said the book form, which is the play script, is enjoying a worldwide release so fans everywhere can join in the celebration.  Fans in Little Rock can join in at what may be the final midnight Harry Potter release party. 

The Barnes and Noble stores in Little Rock and North Little Rock are celebrating with a midnight release party.  Starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday July 30, they will have a special "Muggle Wall" to share your memories of Harry, giveaways and activities.  You don't have to dress up, but every midnight release I've been to for Harry Potter books, there are plenty of Dumbledores and people in Hogwarts robes.  The Little Rock store is at 11500 Financial Ctr Pkwy, and the North Little Rock store is at 4000 McCain Blvd.  The Chenal store says the Little Rock Zoo will be bringing some owls.

It's no coincidence that July 31 is Harry's birthday.  Celebrate with him at the local Barnes and Noble.

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