Meet Canada’s Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
Trevor White, Sarah Afful and Gregory Prest are set to star as the grown-up versions of these famous J.K. Rowling characters in the coming Toronto production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – a play presented in two parts that producer David Mirvish calls “the largest undertaking Mirvish Productions has ever done.”
“The casting process was the most intensive ever conducted by us, which requires actors to not only display their acting talents but also their physical prowess due to the intensive choreography and special effects in the production,” Mirvish said, adding that more than 1,000 performers from across the country were auditioned.
On Wednesday, Mirvish and co-producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender announced an all-Canadian cast for this first Canadian production of the Tony- and Olivier-winning stage sequel to Rowling’s beloved books, which will open in previews on Oct. 23 at a refurbished Ed Mirvish Theatre.
White, an actor from British Columbia who has lived and mostly worked in England for the past two decades, will play the title wizard – no longer a boy in the show, but grown up and with children of his own. His credits include work at the Royal Shakespeare Company and on the West End, but also playing the title role in Pericles at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver in 2003.
Afful is well known to Stratford Festival audiences from her six seasons there; she was recently nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore award for playing the lead role in Soulpepper’s Orlando – and just completed a turn as Calpurnia in Julius Caesar at Crow’s Theatre.
Prest, meanwhile, is one of the most beloved members of the Soulpepper ensemble, known for his memorable comic turns in plays from Bed & Breakfast to La Bête, as well as more dramatic roles in Father Comes Home From the Wars and Angels in America.
Many other well-known Canadian stage actors are in the cast, such as Trish Lindstrom (Miranda to Christopher Plummer’s Prospero in The Tempest at Stratford) as Ginny Potter and Brad Hodder (eight seasons at Stratford) as Draco Malfoy.
But much of the two-part play centres on the children of the aforementioned characters. Emerging actors in the cast include Luke Kimball, a recent graduate of the Ryerson Theatre School, who will play Harry’s youngest son, Albus; Hailey Alexis Lewis, who’s been working steadily since graduating from Sheridan College, as Hermione and Ron’s daughter, Rose; and Thomas Mitchell Barnet, currently playing Sam Lesser on the Netflix show Locke and Key, as Draco’s son, Scorpius Malfoy.
Fiona Reid, the Canadian stage legend, and Sara Farb, whose five seasons at Stratford included playing Juliet and Anne Frank, have both spent a year in the Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; they will return to Toronto to play Professor McGonagall and Delphi Diggory, respectively.
Steven Sutcliffe, a Shaw Festival and Stratford Festival veteran who was in the original Broadway cast of Ragtime, is set to play Severus Snape.
With a cast of 39 in total, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – which is written by Jack Thorne, directed by John Tiffany and based on an original story by Rowling, Thorn and Tiffany – is a very expensive show to produce. On Broadway, where it opened in 2018, it cost about US$68.5-million – a price tag that included renovations to the Lyric Theatre – making it the most expensive non-musical play ever to run on the Great White Way.
Mirvish is keeping mum on the exact cost of the Canadian production – and the plot is, likewise, closely guarded, with audience members asked to #KeepTheSecrets since the two-part play first premiered in London in 2016.
Toronto will be the sixth city in the world to see The Cursed Child – which is playing on London’s West End, on Broadway, in San Francisco, in Melbourne, Australia, and will soon open in Hamburg, Germany. Tickets go on sale on April 4 at 9:45 a.m. – which is a reference to the platform at King’s Cross Station where the Hogwarts Express departs.
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