By Barbara Ocsovayová
You have read the books, you have seen the films, but have you heard about the musical? A Very Potter Musical is a parodic adaptation of Harry Potter that pays tribute to the story of the boy-who-lived whilst being fresh with original jokes.
At the University of Michigan, a group of young people named Team StarKid decided it would be a totally awesome * idea to write a musical based on the Harry Potter series. Performances of the musical took place at the Basement Arts theatre and one of them was recorded and put on Youtube. That was in 2009, and now, seven years later, A Very Potter Musical has almost 13 million views. It has become a stepping stone for Team StarKid and has created a huge fanbase. However, they will always be known for this supermegafoxyawesomehot musical about Harry Potter.
“No way this year anyone’s gonna die and it’s gonna be totally awesome!”
But what makes A Very Potter Musical – and its two sequels A Very Potter Sequel and A Very Potter Senior Year – so enjoyable and popular?
The original lyrics are full of puns, slang, and terms from the world of Harry Potter. Along with music, they are mainly a creation of Darren Criss and A. J. Holmes. A true StarKid fan knows every single word to the ten minutes long opening number “Goin’ Back To Hogwarts”. Its lyrics are amazing in their simplicity and hilarity and because the song is accompanied by catchy music, it is easy to learn it by heart and sing along – as well as the other songs from the musical. Some of them are quite touching, deep enough to draw a tear and become the most memorable ones. As Hermione Granger sings “The Coolest Girl”, you believe she is indeed the coolest girl in the whole wide world and there is no one who can bring her down. “Not Alone” makes you remember how heartless the world was to the three good friends, and reminds you of the times when Harry was just a boy living in a cupboard under some stairs.
“I’ve been alone, surrounded by darkness. And I’ve seen how heartless, the world can be.”
The characters themselves get a brand-new portrayal and albeit this might be confusing and a bit of a throwback for some hardcore Harry Potter fans, if one gets used to it, even a douchey Harry will become their favourite. Let’s not forget about Draco Malfoy who is actually played by a woman and is ready to travel to Pigfarts – a wizarding school located on Mars. Of course, it cannot be forgotten what an awful headmaster Albus Dumbledore really is and how melodramatic Severus Snape can be. The most loveable character though? Lord Voldemort himself.
“You think killing people might make them like you, but it doesn’t. It just makes people dead.”
StarKid bring their own twist to a story that fans are already familiar with. They manage to surprise their audience and make everything just a tad more entertaining. A duet sung by Draco and Ron about their love for Hermione is one of the additions which still maintains an authentic vibe.
The writers, Nick and Matt Lang, also filled their storylines with a great number of cultural references drawn from different movie and book franchises. An example of that is when Harry’s statue is thrown down only to be replaced by a statue of Spider-Man. Much to Harry’s dismay, it is one of Andrew Garfield and not of Tobey Maguire, a fan favourite.
What the writers might have been counting on though, and what makes their amateur musical – with simple cardboard props and a guy with a guitar playing the famous Harry Potter – lovable, are the fans of Potter who understand and notice all the little bits and details in it. The writers and actors are hardcore fans themselves and through their shared passion they connected to millions of fans around the world.
There might be a new play about Harry Potter and four more movies yet to come, but one could try to overcome the possible scepticism one can have against a fan-made production, and go back to Hogwarts. At least once more. I promise you, it’s gonna be totally awesome.
Formed at the University of Michigan in 2009, StarKid represents a coalition of writers, directors, actors and designers dedicated to creating accessible, quality theater for the modern era. Besides creating nine original musical, they embarked on two national tours and hit over 180 million views on YouTube.
Sam Howzit, flickr.com, CC 2.0
*This article uses informal language taken from the musical (indicated by cursive and hypertext links to the songs) to remain authentic to its own original register, and is also written in a subjective tone.