They're illusions, Michael!
SDCC attendees didn't have to wait for their Hogwarts letters to arrive, because the magic lessons came right to them. The head "Magic and Illusion" designers for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child warmed up the audience with a crash course in optical trickery and classic misdirection. To that end, everyone was handed a specially-themed coin with which to practice the "French Drop."
According to U.S. associate, Skylar Fox, these exercises are shown to any new cast members of the stage show, which acts as a sequel to Deathly Hallows, following the young sons of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.
“We all have one thing in common…," said British illusion associate Chris Fisher.
“We are all completely, unabashedly obsessed with magic," Fox finished. The audience was then treated to a few comedic photographs of Fox, Fisher, and Jamie Harrison (head U.K. designer) practicing magic as kids.
As a Comic Con exclusive, Harrison, Fisher, and Fox debuted some never-before-seen images and videos from the stage play, both behind and in front of the scenes. Despite the fact that the audience was asked not to take photos or videos of the content, it is safe to tell you that the choreography, lighting, and prop work in all of them help bring the Wizarding World to stunning life.
For example, the stage versions of the soul-sucking dementors are a hundred times scarier and more book accurate than they are in the movies. Of course, there was some worry about competing with the high budget CGI effects of the movies, but the play had an advantage that the films didn't have.
"Magic is better live, but there were some moments we struggled with," Fisher continued. "With theater, the space and rules are real [but] when you bend and break them, it's more special."
"Magic isn’t tricks. Magic is storytelling and bringing people into a world ... We get to take people on a journey of wonder," Harrison explained, recounting how he totally wow'd Potter creator J.K. Rowling with his $22,000 Time Turner prop that plays a crucial part in the play's story. He wrapped up the panel with a live demonstration of the hover charm known as Wingardium Leviosa, lifting a table in real time with audience volunteers.
Written by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, Cursed Child (based on a story by Rowling and Thorne), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child currently plays in London, New York, and Australia. The production debuts in San Francisco this October. It was announced at the panel that Jon Steiger would be portraying Scorpius Malfoy, the first casting confirmation for the upcoming West Coast production.
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