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REVIEW: Potted Potter Not Just for Harry Potter Buffs (Pantages Theatre/Hennepin Theatre Trust)

Harry Potter (left) and Professor Albus Dumbledore (right) prepare to battle dark wizardry in the Harry Potter mashup parody Potted Potter. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

If you ever wondered how broadly Harry Potter cuts across demographics, look no further than the spread of ages at Potted Potter‘s opening night at the Pantages Theatre. The all-ages crowd included children as young as age 4 to at least fourscore, all – even those who confessed to just seeing a movie or two – seeming to be having the time of their lives.

Potted Potter is a British panto spoofing the Harry Potter series’ original seven books. Haven’t read ’em, just seen the movies? Not a problem. Missed a movie or two or seven? Not a problem. You don’t have to know the material well to enjoy the all-ages comedy, with vibrant physical and verbal humor, and ridiculous “costumes”. You don’t even need to get involved in the numerous audience participation segments, because crowd-watching and seeing how into it other people are getting is part of the fun.

Unless you happen to be familiar with panto, Potted Potter is a hard show to describe without narrating all the jokes and gags – but, at the same time, really easy to enjoy. Joseph Maudsley and James Percy show deft physical and verbal humor, a knack for warming up the crowd, and (in a personal favorite) a great knack for turning audience catcalls into crowd-ripping laughter. That deflection’s a good antidote to the seasonal stresses and annoyances of life, weather, and politics. No Sorceror’s (or is that Philosopher’s?) Stone required.

Voldemort (left) battles Harry Potter (right) in Potted Potter. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

What do you get?

  • A rapid-fire trek through all seven core novels.
  • An audience Quidditch game.
  • A high-energy, internationally touring show laced with a few extra-hilarious improvisatory elements.
  • Some great running gags that build over the course of the show.
  • Out in less than an hour and a half.
  • A dragon with googly eyes.
  • Two actors racing to enact some of the most dramatic, character-stuffed scenes.
  • If you bring children, probably a fair number of re-enactments after the show.
How to condense seven best-selling books into a 70-minute show? Potted Potter takes inspiration from the classic parody The Complete Works of William Shakespreare (Abridged) by The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Potted Potter plays at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, MN through March 10, 2019.

Basil Considine