Harry Potter charms at Broadway

NEW YORK • Even in previews, the show is casting a spell and setting box-office records.

Harry Potter fans have been filling up the Lyric, one of Broadway's largest theatres, and the US$2.1 million (S$2.8 million) the play took in during the first week of this month was more than any play had previously grossed in a single week.

That is a good omen for the backers of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, a two-part drama which will open on Sunday and has cost about US$68.5 million to take to Broadway. It is a huge bet in a flop-prone industry, but also a seemingly safe one, predicated on the expectation that Cursed Child will become a big hit and spin off profits for years.

The Ambassador Theatre Group, a British theatre giant that operates the Lyric, spent about US$23 million to persuade its previous occupant, Cirque du Soleil, to shutter its Paramour musical and make way for Cursed Child. Ambassador, which competed with other Broadway landlords to woo Cursed Child, overhauled the Lyric at the behest of the play's producers.

A charmless barn of a theatre, it was reconfigured to feel more like an old-fashioned opera house.

The play, a two-part experience with a running time of more than five hours, is a sequel to the young adult fantasy novels by British author J.K. Rowling about a boy wizard.

Cursed Child takes place 19 years after the final book, at a time when Harry and his friends have become parents.The play was developed in Britain and has been sold out in London's West End for 22 months. Last year, it won a record nine Olivier awards - the British equivalent of the Tonys - including for best play.

The Broadway production is largely sold out through next March, although there are periodic releases of more tickets, including some low-priced ones on Fridays.

Each part of the show had a recent average ticket price of US$164.83 and a top price of US$286.50. The two parts can be seen on the same day or consecutive days.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2018, with the headline 'Harry Potter charms at Broadway'. Print Edition | Subscribe