This week marks Harry Potter‘s 38th birthday, which means it’s time to celebrate our favorite wizard boy even harder than we usually do.
For some, that means building a massive LEGO version of Hogwarts, making their own Felix Felicis, or going on an all-day movie binge. But for me, it means rewatching the 2009 fan musical A Very Potter Musical. Back in the day, some students from the University of Michigan formed a theater group called StarKid, and they wrote and produced their own Harry Potter parody musical. Darren Criss, who went on to star on TV and broadway, even got his start from the show, playing Harry. It’s an iconic piece of the HP fandom, and more seasoned Potterheads may have seen it before. But it’s worth a (re)watch from anyone who adores the antics of The Boy Who Lived.
And just why is it so good? For one, it’s an entire musical written my undergraduate students, which is impressive in and of itself. That’s right—the students wrote, produced, and acted in the show all without outside help. If that doesn’t speak to their drive and talent, I don’t know what does.
Considering it’s a student production, it’s actually quite well run and costumed. There’s even a dragon onstage at one point, which they managed to bring to life quite impressively. In fact, half the charm of the show is how they get around a lack of flashy special effects. I always laugh when Hermione is supposed to fix Harry’s glasses, only for him to declare magic before ceremoniously putting them back on his face.
It’s also a lot of fun because it pulls from all over the Potter lore; we have Harry’s first arrival at Hogwarts from Sorcerer’s Stone, the Triwizard Tournament from Goblet of Fire, and the horcruxes from Deathly Hallows. But not only does it include so many classic elements from the series, it also pokes fun at some of the less logical moments, such as Dumbledore arbitrarily giving Gryffindor points, or Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge’s stubborn refusal to believe Voldemort is back.
By the way, did I mention this show is maybe the funniest thing I’ve ever seen? You’ve got Draco rolling around on the floor and rambling about a wizard school on Mars called Pigfarts. You’ve got Dumbledore wearing a way too small High School Musical shirt and making eyes at the “Zefron” (that’s Zack Efron) poster he has on his wall. You’ve got a Voldemort tap number. It all plays out like some crazy magical fever dream you never want to awake from. I can’t fit all of my favorite moments here, but just know that only a few minutes in I’m already dying of laughter.
What I think really brings it home for me, though, is that this musical, as cheesy and crazy and outlandish as it is, really does feel like a celebration of what we as fans love about Harry Potter. The sense of wonder and discovery and growth that we know and love from the books is all there. Interspersed with all of the jokes, there’s some real heart as it explores the relationships between the characters. Yes, a lot of the time it’s ridiculous, but it truly showcases the lengths that a group of people will go to to pay homage to something they love. There’s something about the way they sing “I’ve gotta get back to Hogwarts” that never fails to make me crack a smile.
Does this sound like something you’d like to watch? What parody musical do you want to see next? Let us know in the comments below!
Images: StarKid Productions/GIPHY