Laughs abound for SCSU production of ‘Potter’ musical

‘A Very Potter Musical’ was an amateur and unofficial production about Harry Potter that was created in 2009 and put on YouTube by a group of University of Michigan students who have parodied other works of pop culture like ‘The Hobbit’ and Batman. They wanted to put their own spin on something they loved. Five years later, the SCSU Theatre department has recreated this production, adding a personal twist to it, in ‘Almost A Very Potter Musical’.

For years I have been a fan of Team Starkid, the theatre company that created ‘A Very Potter Musical’. The show is responsible for Team Starkid’s explosion in popularity, and is the origin of popular ‘Glee’ actor Darren Criss. ‘A Very Potter Musical’ also spawned two sequels, and several more theatre productions, shows, and even concert tours, all from Team Starkid. I’ve watched the very lengthy, almost three hour-long play countless times. I think a lot of what is enjoyed about the original production is all of its little quirks and mistakes, that can’t be recreated. Fans of the musical fell in love with the actors’ portrayals of the Harry Potter characters, especially because the actors played the characters in an entirely satirical way. The original production was lightning in a bottle, and Team Starkid didn’t create the musical with the purpose of it being produced around the world. They just did it for fun, like any normal college student would do.

I did enjoy ‘Almost A Very Potter Musical’, and I would have probably enjoyed more if it was my first time ever witnessing the musical. Thankfully they cut some of the content of the musical out to make the show two hours long. As much as I love the whole musical, I couldn’t have sat in a theatre for three hours. It wasn’t a stretch for them to change the ending of the show to make it shorter, because the whole show is a messy mix of different Harry Potter plot points. Several lines from the show were also changed for SCSU’s production, for reasons I am uncertain of, other than to maybe avoid copyright issues. I was disappointed by some of my favorite lines that were changed, but I did enjoy some of the changes they made to the dialogue as well.

Some of the actor’s portrayals were almost replicas of what was done in the original musical, including Draco Malfoy, Cho Chang, and Lord Voldemort. Shannon Sharp’s portrayal of Albus Dumbledore surprisingly turned out to be quite enjoyable. A lot of her comic timing and delivery made the show seem less forced. Her portrayal was physically more similar to the movies’ and books’ version of the character. In physicality and in voice, Team Starkid’s version of Dumbledore was nothing similar to what was done in the books and movies, which I enjoy, but I understand that probably wouldn’t have translated well to the SCSU audience.

Tanner Phillips also tried to create his own parody of his character of Severus Snape, that wasn’t similar at all in tone to the actual character of Snape. I think that performance wasn’t fully realized, and because of that, the character lost its importance to the show. The rest of the cast did an honorable job in trying to replicate what the actors from Team Starkid did.

I think what doesn’t work about recreating this show is that it wasn’t well written in the first place. The jokes are there, but the show is too long, and scenes are too long. The musical was written by college students, and I think it would only be right for theatre companies to perform this show if its original writers edited their script and made it more concise.

The crew did well with set, lights, and costume design. The actors looked as though they had a good time putting on the show, and the audience had a good time as well, laughing and clapping in approval.

‘A Very Potter Musical’ is not a well written show, and it’s hard to try to repeat the same originality and comedic timing that the original musical had. I enjoyed my night of free entertainment though, (Only free will donations were accepted, most likely to avoid being sued by Warner Bros.) and I look forward to upcoming shows from the SCSU Theatre department for the school year.

Final Verdict: 6 out of 10 stars

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