Fans still waiting for a Hogwarts acceptance letter to arrive in the mail can experience the magic of “Harry Potter” once again. When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, July 31, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts I and II” will be available for sale, and Greenville booksellers are hosting events to celebrate its release.
“Cursed Child” is not a novel, nor is it written by series author J.K. Rowling. It’s a rehearsal script for a two-part play by English screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne, which is based on a story created by Thorne, Rowling and director John Tiffany. “Cursed Child” is considered part of the official “Harry Potter” canon and the eighth installment of the series.
The play is set 19 years following the events that take place in the seventh book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” According to the synopsis on the play’s official website, Harry is now “an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic” and his youngest son Albus is struggling “with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.” Both father and son experience the collision of past and present.
“Cursed Child” officially premiers on Saturday, July 30, at the Palace Theatre in London, but those who cannot make the trip (and obtain the much sought-after ticket) won’t get left behind thanks to the release of the script.
The medium and author may have changed in this latest “Harry Potter” installment, but the anticipation and fervor surrounding its release has stayed the same. Many “Harry Potter” fans can recall arriving at booksellers to get their hands on a copy of the newest book at midnight, and stores are keeping up that tradition with the “Cursed Child.”
The Woodruff Road location of Barnes & Noble will kick off its event at 8 p.m. on Saturday, with activities that include wand making, coloring, face painting, a “Sorting Hat” station and a make-your-own elixir and potion station at the store’s café. There will be a “Muggle wall” for customers to share their favorite memories of “Harry Potter.” Actors from the Greenville Little Theater will conduct readings from the previous seven books. Additionally, the store will have a drawing for two winners to receive prints of the first edition covers from books one through seven and a raffle for a replica “time turner” necklace. (The Haywood Road location has a similar event planned.)
— BN Greenville (@BN_Greenville) July 22, 2016
Melissa Berry, community business development manager at the Woodruff Road Barnes & Noble, said when “Deathly Hallows” was released in 2007, more than 700 people attended the store’s release party. The location is expecting a similar turnout for Saturday’s event.
Customers can purchase their copy of “Cursed Child” at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday morning, and the store will close when the last customer leaves with his or her purchase, Berry says. While Berry could not disclose the number of the store’s preorders for “Cursed Child,” she assured that the store “will have plenty [of copies] for everyone who comes. We’re expecting it to be the top seller for 2016.”
“I think everyone has been asking for years for more to the story … I think it’s wonderful for those who grew up with ‘Harry Potter’ and can now look at it differently as adults and also for the young readers coming up now. They won’t have to wait to find out what happens,” Berry says of the “Cursed Child” release.
M. Judson Booksellers downtown on South Main Street will be hosting a sold out, ticketed release party beginning on Saturday night at 10 p.m. and lasting shortly after midnight on Sunday. Mary Miller, event organizer, said 116 people preordered “Cursed Child” through the store and most will be attending the event with guests to bring the total attendance to 200 people.
“The idea [of the event] is you come in and you’re in our store, but you’re in our store to celebrate Harry,” Miller says.
Activities at the M. Judson party will include Tarot card readings (inspired by Professor Trelawney), a Wizarding photo booth with props provided by a local theater, “Golden Snitches” hidden around the store for prizes and “headless bowling” in the middle of the store (inspired by the headless ghosts in the books). Chocolate Moose will serve as the Great Hall, and the bakery will sell goods inspired by the books, including “Golden Snitch” cake pops, butterbeer and cauldron cakes.
— 3amJosh (@3amjosh) July 29, 2016
Books will be purchased starting at 12:01 a.m., and the store will close shortly after. “I’ll tell everyone to go home and read,” says Miller.
The event attendees aren’t the only ones excited about the “Cursed Child” release; Miller is also a huge fan of the series.
“J.K. Rowling can have all my money,” she quips. “We love the series so much, and now we’re being given more things to have fun with and to share with people. This is just a moment to celebrate that. A lot of us didn’t think we’d get to [have a release party] again, so it’s special.”
Mr. K’s Used Bookstore on Verdae will hold an event during its Sunday business hours from noon to 6 p.m. This week, customers could visit the store and enter into a drawing for a chance to win a free copy of “Cursed Child,” and the winner will be chosen at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Discounted new copies of “Cursed Child” will be available for purchase, and on Sunday only, books with red price stickers, the majority of which are children’s and young adult selections, will be 20 percent off.
Fans are likely hoping that the positive reviews the play has garnered translate to the experience of just reading the script. Across the pond, critics Mark Shenton of The Stage, Dominic Cavendish of the Daily Telegraph and Jack Shepherd of The Independent gave the play a five-star rating. Performances of “Cursed Child” are sold out until May 2017, but additional tickets will be released on Aug. 4 for future performances in London that will span from next spring to Dec. 10, 2017.