Images by Craig Stillitoe
Theatres all over the world have felt the heavy impact of the pandemic, and in Australia, the still relatively new Melbourne production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was one of several plays that had to pause their shows.
Now, 49 weeks later, the team are ready to get back to work, with the play officially re-opening in Melbourne at the Princess Theatre on the 25th February. In Australia, theatre productions can safely re-open at a slightly lower capacity, with health and safety measures firmly in place.
So, after such a long and unconventional break between shows, how do the cast feel about their return to the wizarding world?
“I’m feeling a real mixture of feelings,’ said Gareth Reeves, who stars as Harry Potter in the production. “It’s been 11 months since we’ve been back. I have an incredible sense of gratitude. We’re all gently searching out who we are again, listening to each other’s stories and re-finding each other. I’m very excited and thrilled to be back but I’m not taking anything for granted. None of us are.”
For Lucy Goleby, who plays Ginny Weasley, she felt like the return took her right back to the beginning of the experience.
"It is very exciting," she said. “It’s a bit like the first day of rehearsal all over again where we’re just so excited to see each other, to see the stage, to see the empty seats and imagine everyone eventually filling them. There are no words.”
Manali Datar, who portrays Rose Granger-Weasley, highlighted just how emotional it will be to bring the eighth Harry Potter story to the fans after such a long wait.
“Having got through the last 11 months will mean so much more for us and for audiences to watch and be involved in this beautiful story,” she said.
Former Home and Away star Debra Lawrance, who plays Professor McGonagall in Cursed Child, added: “It will be a healing experience for the audiences to be back in watching the magic of our show.”
Gareth Reeves was keen to acknowledge several other theatre productions that still couldn’t open – and said how lucky he felt to be returning to the stage.
“I’m feeling for all the companies around the world who aren’t back, so I feel very privileged,” he said.
It wasn’t just the cast who were celebrating bringing the magic back – the crew also spoke about their feelings being back together.
“Being in the theatre feels incredibly normal and incredibly surreal at the same time,” mused ensemble and movement captain Lyndall Grant.
“This is the Princess and it’s beautiful and you can feel that we’re part of the fabric of it,” she added.
For Naomi Edwards, the resident director of the play, her message to the returning cast and crew was the perfect way of summing up the reunion at the Princess Theatre.
“As theatre people, this is our home, so this is our homecoming.”
We’ll be bringing you more updates on Cursed Child Australia once the play resumes shows next week, when the Princess Theatre will be opening its doors for theatre-goers once again. For more details on the Australian production of the play, visit the official website.