As previews of the Harry Potter play open this week in London’s West End, very little is actually known about the eighth story. Author J.K. Rowling herself asked fans not to give away plot secrets, saying in a new video, “You’ve been amazing for years at keeping Harry Potter secrets so you didn’t spoil the books for readers who came after you. So I’m asking you one more time to keep the secrets and let audiences enjoy Cursed Child with all the surprises that we’ve built into the story.” The two-part play opens officially on July 30, with a script book going on sale the following day, but preview performances begin tomorrow (June 7). Ahead of those, here’s what we actually know about the play, from the cast to the stage design.
Played by: Anthony Boyle
22-year-old Boyle, a recent graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, is from Belfast. As part of his drama school’s Richard Burton Theatre Company, he was directed by Iqbal Khan in The Taming of the Shrew. He also appeared in season 4 of Game of Thrones as a Bolton guard. Here, he plays the son of Harry Potter’s nemesis, Draco Malfoy. There’s no word on where his mother is.
Played by: Alex Price
Price, 31, is a very experienced stage actor whose skill set includes fencing and stage combat. You might recognise him from his roles as undead figures in supernatural TV shows – he played Gilbert the ghost in Being Human and played the reanimated Frankenstein experimental subject Proteus in Penny Dreadful – but he does play humans too. He appeared in BBC series Father Brown as Sid Carter, and now he’s playing Harry Potter’s school enemy Draco Malfoy. Yes, Draco does now have a ponytail.
Played by: Cherrelle Skeete
Skeete, 26, trained at Central School of Speech and Drama and has stage experience with The National Theatre, in Three Days In The Country and The Amen Corner. Her first TV gig was last year in Call The Midwife, and she’s since appeared in Ordinary Lies as Viv and The Five as Clare. In The Cursed Child, Skeete will play Rose – Ron and Hermione’s daughter.
Played by: Noma Dumezweni
A star of the stage, Dumezweni has a list of lauded stage appearances as long as your arm – including several with the Royal Shakespeare Company – and in 2006 she won a Laurence Olivier Award. TV watchers might recognise her from her role in Doctor Who as Captain Magambo. Here she plays one of Harry Potter’s best friends, Hermione. Since the announcement, JK Rowling has addressed criticism of her casting in typically bigot-busting fashion – calling those who questioned the decision a “bunch of racists” and adding, “With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot… Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm.”
Played by: Paul Thornley
Thornley has worked with Draco actor Alex Price before, on the BBC’s Father Brown. Like his character Ron Weasley, he’s a bit of an all-rounder, with a mixture of credits on film (Les Miserables and Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy Grimsby), TV (Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Silk), voice acting (video game The Witcher 3 and animated film Minions), and, finally stage. At the National Theatre, he recently played Dodge in murder musical London Road, and has also been in The Three Musketeers and A Chorus of Disapproval.
Played by: Sam Clemmett
You might have seen Clemmett as Luc in the first episode of the latest series of The Musketeers, which aired at the end of May. He appeared in the film Survivor last year, and was in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Peter Pan adaptation, Wendy And Peter Pan, as new character Tom. He plays Harry’s son, Albus, around whom the play appears to centre. As the play’s synopsis reads, “While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
Played by: Poppy Miller
Miller has appeared often on screen, with leading roles in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Emma and in The Second Best Marigold Hotel. Her stage credits include some at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, the Manchester Royal Exchange, and London’s Tricycle and Almeida theatres. J.K. Rowling’s commented, “I think a lot of people would like to have Poppy’s Ginny for a mother. Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her.”
Played by: Jamie Parker
A RADA graduate, Jamie played Scripps in the original production of The History Boys and later played the role on radio and TV. He worked again with playwright Alan Bennett on 2015 film The Lady In The Van, in which he cameoed as an estate agent, and you may have spotted him as Grant in last year’s BBC drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. He, of course, plays our scarred protagonist Harry Potter, and J.K. Rowling has lavished him with praise: “He simply is Harry now. There’s a kind of relief in watching him, he gets it so right.”
The set design
Set designer Christine Jones says, “We are making the Palace our home for Hogwarts, inside as well as out” That includes the wallpaper, apparently.
Judging by the movement director Steven Hoggett’s comment – “Putting the new Hogwarts cloaks through their paces” – there’ll be a bit of action to the play. It’s not clear from this photo whether the cast are rehearsing moves together, or whether they’re involved in some kind of dance…
The set design includes hand-carved sconces for each of the four houses, which suggests most of the action will be taking place at Hogwarts. Now that Harry is grown up, that wasn’t always a given, so fans may be relieved to know the play will take them back to the wizarding school.