Drama class brings magic of wizarding world to stage

The room explodes with life, vibrating with a cacophonous flurry of typical thespian activity and banter—consisting of vocal exercises and laughter, a rising wave of volume spreads with exaggerated gesticulations as people shuffle to their places, waiting for a cue to be given.

“It’s a very physical process indeed,” freshman Libby Lambert comments on the process of portraying Draco Malfoy, whose distinct character quirk involves a series of cartwheels and somersaults in between lines for none other than dramatic purposes.

Whether it be practicing ensemble numbers or blocking, students preparing for “A Very Potter Musical,” often commit themselves to this routine for two to four hours each day after school, and even more so on their own.

Originally released in 2009 by Starkid Productions, “A Very Potter Musical” originated as a parody of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” novels, paying homage to many well-known tropes within the Potterverse, such as Draco’s infatuation with Hermione as well as the budding bromance between the inseparable Professor Quirrell and The-One-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself.

“Normally, this production should have about 10 weeks to pull together,” remarks senior Claire Rice. “But we’re doing it in half the time, so it’s definitely been a whirlwind rehearsal process. We’re constantly revising the script in terms of comedic timing, content—anything to make it better.”

While on set, Rice describes the earlier stages of the production as turbulent, a process that required a full week’s worth of recasting and scheduling.

Having achieved an online cult following, the show has even elicited praise and recognition from some members of the original cast (i.e., Daniel Radcliffe and Tom Felton, who notably regards the musical as one of the best byproducts of the franchise).

Currently, the original footage filmed at the University of Michigan can be found on YouTube, but no tangible score exists—one of many compromises that had to be made. According to Gracie Poletti, the task of transposing the musical score by ear falls on George Peterson, a musical director in the area.

Nonetheless, complications regarding the musical’s script have posed to be the production’s greatest conflict. As the first show the drama class has done with significantly problematic dialogue, CHS drama teacher Gracie Poletti explains that most of the removed content remains prohibited simply because it is gratuitous.

“When it comes to ‘appropriate’ material, let me ask you this,” Poletti queries. “What is the point of vulgarity or excessive violence or sex in a script? Does it make it funnier or just edgier or more shocking? Does it propel the story line? If the material was truly necessary to tell a story we want to tell, I am pretty sure the administration would allow it if it was a show with a relevant story for our audience.”

As of now, the line between artistry and vulgarity remains a blurred, yet necessary evil.

“Honestly, [Claire and I] suggested it almost jokingly because we genuinely did not believe we’d be allowed to do it,” exclaims senior Audrey Moonan. “Getting the idea greenlit was incredibly surreal because it’s a play that many of us [in the cast] hold dear to our hearts, so I’m incredibly grateful to have taken a part in it during my time here.”

The show has continuously undergone several revisions in regards to language and content, but should still attended with audience discretion.

“We still have all the original satire in the script so it’s still funny,” Poletti affirms. “Yes, we lose some of the shock value, but the trade-off remains so we can open up the show to a wider audience.”

The show premiered May 5 and will be showing for a final performance 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, in the black box theater at Carmel High School.

-Grace Liang