OGDEN — Have you ever had one of those weeks? Where one bad thing happens, then another, and then another, until finally you think that perhaps karma has just led you to the point of no return? I know what you are thinking, what in the world does this have to do with the review of a parody about Harry Potter? Well, I just wanted to paint for you the mood I had when walking into the Ziegfeld Saturday night, so that you can more fully appreciate my reactions to the entertainment that followed.
Fairly Potter is an original parody with books and lyrics written by Rick Rea, someone who has been involved in many of the Ziegfeld’s productions. The tag the theater has given the show is “7 books, 2 hours, one hilarious musical parody!” The tag does not lie. Not knowing what to expect, I browsed the program and saw that Rea had taken songs from many popular musicals, and rewritten the titles to match the Harry Potter theme. I chuckled at many of the titles, and thought, well for a musical theatre (and Harry Potter) lover like myself, this will be entertaining, but will it entertain the general public? I remained a bit skeptical as the lights went down. After all, precious few things had made me laugh this week.
During the opening number, it was apparent that the cast all had very strong voices. Rea had chosen to use a number from Little Shop of Horrors to introduce the story of Harry Potter living at his relatives on Privet Drive. The song made me laugh and also introduced the story well. Jake Holt who played Harry Potter looked and sounded like Harry Potter, and I said to myself, “Okay, good. This will be fun.”
“Fun” was an understatement. The beginning number was only a small glimpse into the humor, satire, complete cleverness, and impressive little jokes that made this night one of the best evenings of comedy I had seen in a long time. Writing a review like this is difficult, because revealing too much of the songs and choices made would retract from the experience that readers would have if they saw the show. I want to point out a few strong moments and commend a few people, but I feel the strongest statement I could make is that this is a show that needs to be seen. It is something that can brighten up a rough week. Plus, I feel that readers should support a small theatre company as it takes risks and tries to create a place for new entertainment as well as tried and true shows.
Erica Choffel portrays Hermione, and she is introduced to the audience by singing “No Muggle Life for Me” a wonderful parody from a song from Thoroughly Modern Millie. Choffel has an excellent voice, great dancing ability, and yes, looks like she could be Hermione Granger. However, this song stood out to me not only for the talent, but the cleverness of writing, and how it paralleled the original Harry Potter story while paying homage to Thoroughly Modern Millie. For theatre geeks such as myself, the connection between the two was entertaining and inventive. The show is full of little moments such as that, where the cleverness of story, and obvious love of musical theatre by the cast and writer, and obviously a love of Harry Potter, all combined to hilarious outcomes. Some other favorites included “One by One,” “Quidditch,” and well, really, every song.
Several of the cast members played more than one part, including Andrew Cole, Quinn Kapetanov, and Becky Cole. Each of them were so convincing in their roles that I often had to check the program to really the same person was on stage again.
Nonetheless, a few people deserve special mention. The best part of the entire night had to be with Kapetanov as Voldermort, Andrew Cole as Snape, and Patrick Boyd (I think, the role was uncredited) portraying Voldermort’s snake. The portrayal of the snake was the moment of the night when my laughter turned to tears of joy.
A good parody is a lot more complicated to write, direct, and pull off than most people understand. The cast and crew of Fairly Potter were able to put in inside jokes that only a true aficionado would understand, while also making it generic enough to provide humor and enjoyment for everyone in attendance. If you like musicals, you like comedy, you like Harry Potter, of if you are like me and you have just had a really bad week, go see Fairly Potter. It’s the laugh you have been waiting for. Good Job, Rick Rea. If you keep writing, I will keep coming.