Hilarious ‘Harry Potter’ parody coming to Manila
LOS ANGELES – A loving, funny “Harry Potter” parody that began as a five-minute street show in the United Kingdom is coming to Manila. “Potted Potter,” which earned a 2012 Olivier Award nomination for best entertainment and family show, is currently entertaining audiences at the Little Shubert Theater in New York where we recently saw it.
Daniel “Dan” Clarkson and Jefferson “Jeff” Turner, who jointly wrote the parody of the seven “Harry Potter” books, also star in the extended off-Broadway stop of the show.
Jeff plays Harry while Dan plays virtually all the other characters in a loose romp through J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular book series.
They draw laughs by using simple props—lots of wigs, costumes, masks and hand puppets—and creative gimmicks to evoke some of the highlights in the world of Hogwarts wizardry, including a live game of Quidditch that the audience gets to join. Even folks who are not big fans of the books are bound to have a good time.
Since Dan and Jeff have to stay in New York because the show has been extended there, two other performers—Gary Trainor and Jesse Briton—will star in the Manila production that runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati.
Backstage after their well-received performance at the Little Shubert, Jeff said it took him and Dan a long time to cast the Manila production. Jeff sounded very glad about finding Gary and Jesse. “They are very good clowns,” he quipped.
Dan, a tall bundle of energy onstage, said finding performers to play their roles in the show’s Philippine stop was a “bizarre thing to do. We had an out-of-body experience. They are better than us. We have seen them do stuff. We worked with them. It is like having a baby and we leave them with somebody.”
Both Dan and Jeff almost couldn’t believe that the five-minute street show—which a bookstore commissioned them to do to entertain fans waiting for the midnight release of the sixth “Potter” book in 2005—has taken them to NY. “That was just seven years ago,” Jeff said. “We got paid 100 pounds.”
The British duo went on to develop a full-length show, which took them around the UK, including London and Edinburgh.
“Every stage, we sold out,” Dan recounted. “We sold out in Scotland. We went to the West End. We thought, it can’t get better than this. Then we find ourselves in New York.”
He laughed as he noted the show’s success, even though “it’s just two guys messing around.” But audiences are falling for the simple charms of “Potted Potter” which has reached Toronto, Australia, Asia and South Africa.
Even Rowling supposedly wanted to see the show at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, but she was turned away. Dan said that, after the show, they found the “box office girl almost in tears. She said that this woman came to see the show and I turned her down because we were sold out.” Later, they realized that it was the celebrated author, no less.
“We now keep one seat on hold so she can come and see the show anytime,” Dan said.
What if Daniel Radcliffe came? Jeff replied, “He would be mobbed if he came.” Jeff added in jest, “He would be safe in a cage.”
Dan rued that he’s not performing in the Manila production. When he and his family lived in Hong Kong, they vacationed twice in the Philippines. He remembered tasting the “best mangoes in the world” and his body turning all red after a swim in a hot springs resort.
“It’s a beautiful country with white sand beaches,” Dan said. “I loved being there.”
The two guys plan to incorporate some pop references to the Philippines in the Manila show. But they will, of course, keep the British-“Potter” spirit.
Dan and Jeff have the easy camaraderie of two friends who have been working together for years. Jeff said, “We get along very well. We have done the show 1,200 times. We know when to leave each other alone.” Dan added, “We are like brothers. There is love and protection.”
On the night we watched, the two Brits somehow still managed to make each other laugh because of the show’s improvisational, spontaneous spirit.
Jeff stressed that it is important for both of them to keep it a “family show.” Dan added that it’s essentially a loving parody of the books. “We don’t want to disrespect,” he said.
“Everything we do comes from a place of love. We pay homage to these characters.”
We asked them if they have seen Darren Criss and his friends’ musical-comedies, which were YouTube sensations, and also based on the “Potter” books. Dan said yes, and said, “It is good fun but they are doing a musical and we are doing a show. People compare the productions but they are not comparable.” Jeff said, “They are completely different.”
What’s next for the duo? They joked about making a parody of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Tickets to “Potted Potter” in Manila are available at Ticketworld (891-9999) or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph.
Family packages are available.
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