By Liz Logan
October 12, 2021
In 2005 London, the home of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner had their own magic brewing. As the sixth Harry Potter book– Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince— was set to release, a friend of Clarkson’s asked him to come up with a performance for the eager Potter fans itching to get their hands on the newest installment in the Potter-verse chronicle.
Clarkson, a storyteller and actor, had a great idea: a five-minute recap of the five previous books to tie it all together.
In the early days of Harry Potter fandom, avid readers faithfully lined up book after book, eager to dive back in where they’d left off, awaiting the ultimate defeat of Lord Voldemort at the hands of the young Harry Potter.
“It was like the Beatles of books,” Clarkson said. “It would be two in the morning and there’d be a half-mile queue all the way down Oxford Street with people dressed, and wizards and witches waiting.”
Clarkson would go on to create a project that spread far beyond the lines of book stores, and into sold-out theaters worldwide with his two-man parody show, Potted Potter. The production will be in Charlotte from October 15-17, with its first in-person shows since Covid closed venues across the globe.
From the first performances on London’s Oxford Street, the duo knew the show was destined to be a hit. After their 2006 Edinburgh Festival debut at Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo, the show began to tour and, in 2007, incorporated the seventh book just a few days after its release.
Clarkson had a drama school background and, he says, at six-foot-four-and-a-half, was often cast as a police officer or criminal. Falling into children’s theater, he began writing his own material simply to cast himself because, “no one else was.”
While working at London’s Madame Tussauds wax museum, Clarkson met Turner and the two shared a similar sense of humor. With a mutual admiration of the Harry Potter series, Turner was the perfect compliment for Clarkson’s Harry Potter street performance.
Turner plays Harry and Clarkson plays everyone else. Pop culture references abound; the show shifts with the times. “We had a lot of fun over the last four years with Voldemort talking about a certain president you had and who was actually worse so, you know, it sort of set itself up,” Clarkson joked of the recent US-related references.
The show is not simply intended for Potterheads. Whether you’ve followed the books since the late nineties, have passively watched a few films, or have zero interest, the show, running a little over an hour, is fast-paced and hilarious.
“If for some reason you’ve managed to avoid the Potter franchise, and I have no idea how you could have, you picked a hell of a time to come watch. If that’s the case, then this is a great introduction to the series. We’ve been compared to the Oxford footnotes,” Clarkson said.
Audience participation is highly encouraged at viewings, including an interactive Quidditch game, with a Covid-safe version premiering in Charlotte, giving attendees the experience of playing a match at Hogwarts.
“It’s a lot of silly fun,” Clarkson said. “We are fans of the stories and books so everything we did was on the side of being fans, and telling the jokes and stories fans want to hear. We like to poke fun at it but it’s done in a loving way.”
Friday, October 15 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 16 at 12:00 pm.
Saturday, October 16 at 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 16 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 17 at 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 17 at 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m.
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