Potted Potter at the Seymour Centre
Playing to sold-out houses all over the world, Potted Potter takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into eighty hilarious minutes. This fantastically funny show features all your favourite characters, a special appearance from the fire-breathing dragon, endless costumes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwarts magic!
Abbie spoke with Jefferson Turner, one half of the double Olivier Award Best Entertainment nominee pair that created the show. Want to know more about Potted Potter, and what Jefferson's Howgarts House is? Read below!
How did the show develop into what it is today? What is your creative process like and how did you and co-creator Daniel Clarkson mould this show from early inception to what we will see on stage?
The show began life as a 15-minute piece that we wrote for a London bookstore for the crowds waiting for the midnight launch of the sixth book. After that went so well, we decided to develop it into a full 60-minute show for the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. This process took about 6 weeks of Dan & I, in his parents’ front room, up on our feet, improvising nonsense around the books and characters. Somehow, by the time the festival rolled around, we had a full show, ready to go. Since then the show has developed over the years, when new material comes out surrounding the series, we write new jokes and put them in, and over the course of performing the show over 1600 times, Dan & I have put many new jokes, lines and moments in, live on stage, and kept the ones that worked. (The less said about the ones that didn’t, the better)!
Harry Potter is such a rich complex story full of colourful characters. How did you decide what to keep and what to leave out?
Pretty quickly we decided that the through line of the show should be the relationship between Harry & Voldemort. It is the timeless theme of good versus evil, so it seems the most important relationship in the series to us. From there, we tried to find the main points of their story that we wanted to tell, and which other characters featured heavily in those parts. We then threw all of that away, and chose the characters that we could give the silliest voices and hats! We seem to have done OK. Most super-fans are pleased with who we have included, and not too upset to not see much of others.
What's the biggest challenge about performing so many different roles in 70 minutes?
Speaking as the man who plays Harry for over 90% of the show, I don’t think there is a challenge at all! Dan, who plays all of the other characters may see it slightly differently… I guess the biggest challenge that faced him was making all of the characters different enough so that they can be told apart. When they are all being played by one person, at a quickfire pace, you have to be sure to give them enough of a different personality, so that there can be no confusion. Fortunately Dan is pretty adept at a wide-range of TERRIBLE accents, so there has never been an issue!
What do you hope the fans will get out of the show? And for those less familiar with the Potter phenomenon, why will they still enjoy this night out at the theatre?
Well, we are both huge fans ourselves, obviously, and, being Brits, we love to have the things that we love made fun of. When we started the show, we had no idea if that was unique to our fair isle, or if it would translate. Fortunately we have found that audiences all over the world love to laugh about their passions. So, we hope that we can point out a few of the sillier sides of the Boy Wizard and his world to the super-fans, and give them a handful of in-jokes along the way! For the rest, we have been blown away by how much non-fans love our show! Ultimately it is a two man show, full of physical and verbal gags, topical and pop-culture references, and lots of silliness. We are delighted that non-Potterheads seem to enjoy the show as much as the biggest Rowling followers!
What's your favourite moment in the show?
I think that probably has to be the full game of Quidditch that we play around the halfway point. We put it in, in case some of the kids were getting a bit restless, but it really seems to be the adults who love it, especially the men! I think they suddenly imagine it’s the rugby world cup final, and it’s all down to them. We lose a few of them, and it’s fun to see them come back into the room at the end of the match!! And because it is a fully interactive part of the show, we never know what is going to happen, so it’s as much fun for us as it is the audience!
Finally, what's your Hogwarts house?
According to Pottermore, I am just about a Hufflepuff. I was almost a Ravenclaw, but my Huffle shone through. Dan is the most Hufflepuff person I have ever met – I didn’t need to see his Pottermore results to know that!!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Peter & The Starcatcher – New York, 2012
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
New Zealand, I’ve never been, and I have never heard a bad word!
Dream show/role to perform?
Black Stache in Peter & The Starcatcher
Plays or musicals?
What’s next for you after this show?
Sleeeeep! And maybe reread the entire Potter series for pleasure, rather than work.
Potted Potter opens at the Seymour Centre March 27th You can get your tickets here.