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6/3/12

Potted Potter...70 Minutes of Potter Parody Heaven

And score one for the Harry Potter Fans Nerd Fanboys everywhere.

Our beloved Harry Potter series may have come to an end with the FANTASTIC "Deathly Hallows, Part Two" film that was released this past Fall, but if you are like me, preserving the culture in the aftermath sounds like a novel idea.


Potted Potter, which just opened at the Little Shubert Theater, represents something that anyone who read all seven books (or watched all eight movies) wished he or she came up with. As awesometastic and imaginative Harry Potter is, especially for anyone who grew up with the books since a young age (I'm still awaiting my owled letter to Hogwarts...any day now!), it really is ripe for parody. Given the phenom success of A Very Potter Musical, there are enough creative people willing to hop on that bandwagon and do it well. Hey, imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery...

Jeff Turner and
Daniel Clarkson,  respectively
The show is nothing more then a staged family variety show, like Sesame Street with Quidditch. Oh, there is Quidditch and I will get to that in a little bit. The runthrough is a summary of all seven Harry Potter books in 70 or so minutes. Unsurprisingly - and given the age make-up of those in the audience; we are talking as young as five or six years of age - that's all we need. You would think something all-encompassing and broad wouldn't appeal to someone like me...but it did. The show's good-nature and silly charm also won the approval of my company (Courtney and Kay, for those of you keeping track of my 'Friend'ly Tree).

When Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner, the show's only two stars, take the stage, the show goes on a fast-paced ride of bonkers and cray cray. Cheesy sound effects and backdrop music, over-the-top character interpretations, an array of costumes and props and a full-scale range of jokes from the text ("The 7th book has a lot of camping and death"), theater references ("Defying Gravity" y'all!) and topical references ("99 problems, but a snitch ain't one"). Whether you are rolling your eyes at a lame joke (or one that missed entirely) or laughing-out-loud (sometimes, more then you probably should), you can't resist a production that is high camp at its core. And isn't that one of the best forms of entertainment? If you disagree, look at your life and reevaluate.

It's worth mentioning that this is good camp, not the "so bad, it's good" camp. I left the theater not feeling ashamed to say that (1) Daniel and Jeff actually succeed in their objective of summarizing the Harry Potter series pretty efficiently, which is no small feat and (2) It is well-aware of its own absurdity that the laughs are intentional. The aforementioned Quidditch game? The audience was tossed a quaffle beachball and trying to get it into the opposing teams goals, located on opposite corners of the theater. No kidding...one of the most energetic, funny and randomly epic things I have ever experienced. They also brought two little children on stage to play the seekers, and at one point, they had to tackle Jeff wearing a head-to-toe golden snitch costume. BAH-NANAS.

They could have done something nausea-inducing like literally have people running around on broomsticks, like these Quidditch leagues popping up all over the place...but they clearly knew what they were going for and nailed it. The whole package just works and it should, especially when you consider the talent-involved.

Sit down; I GOT THIS!
Seriously, Daniel and Jeff do some fantastic work here. We are talking 70 minutes of them bringing a gratuitous amount of energy and deploying slap-stick and improv comedy to great effect. They made slap-stick work in this day and age; major credit to them both. Just when you think the whole schtick is bound to wear thin, they managed to surprise me; I was roaring with laughter and having a blast. No matter how well they conceived and wrote the show, they sold the entire package themselves like cheesecake. Dan's improv in particular was amazing playing the goofier, casual, rebel-rouser of the duo, the perfect foil for the studious, book nerd that is Jeff. Their rapport on stage was imperative to the show and, as my lady pal Courtney said, you could tell they are genuinely great friends despite somewhat-contrasting on-stage personas.

Far be it to recommend something this off-color for my beloved audience, which I'm assuming, are like myself and tend to see beautiful, thoughtful plays or a great roof-crashing musical (although those are hard to come by these days). It is obviously a show that caters to the Harry Potter fans, so readers who have no exposure whatsoever to Harry Potter in 12 years or if you *gasp* don't like Harry Potter (ouch; it hurts just to type it), then don't pass go and don't collect $200. But for those of you willing to get nostalgic on the whimsical series that took culture by storm or if you want to poke fun at Harry Potter and co. to show that you care, then the Little Shubert Theater awaits your presence. There is a whole lot of nonsense going on in Potted Potter and while it is no Hogwarts or "Wizarding World of Harry Potter," it is still pretty awesome in its own right.


Photo Credit: Potted Potter NYC Facebook
Photo Credit: PottedPotter.com

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