Theatre phenomenon sometimes occur on Broadway but nothing like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, whose tickets are sold out until July 2017. Ring a bell? The same is happening in the West End with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. These kind of productions that attract so many people and cause such a frenzy do not grow on trees, so when they come to life, nobody wants to miss them. In the case of Hamilton, hip-hop blended with musical theatre and history, and it blew us all away. For Cursed Child, unearthing whatever happened with Harry Potter nineteen years after the events of the last book installment did the trick. And it worked like magic. Both shows have incredible productions, great performances but not many people get to see them. They are in such high demand that they end up being extremely limited for two reasons: no available tickets and proximity issues. Not everyone can go to London or New York, or even afford the tickets, so how can you be a little closer to a play with which you are completely in love but is so unattainable?
Hamilton solved these problems by releasing its soundtrack first, which is basically the whole script of the play. However, you do not know how this show is staged so there is a problem to see the big picture of why this musical may be the best of what we have seen in the last years. So, to ease the fans, Miranda announced that they were developing a book on the making of the star-hit musical. When Hamilton: The Revolution (most commonly known by fans as The Hamiltome) saw light into the world, those who had not had the chance to see the play felt they were closer to the show. This 287-page book gives an insight into the making of the show, following Miranda and his creative partners and cast.
Cursed Child went on similar path when the Special Rehearsal Edition was released and we all got the chance to know what had happened to Harry and his friends nineteen years later. This book consisted in the script they were using for the previews in London. So we basically had in our hands a version that was not going to last much and that was probably going to be changed. Yes, it satisfied our curiosity but we could still not compete to those who went to the theatre each night and saw both parts of the show that J.K. Rowling co-created with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Theatre goers were the ones that got to see the actual magic while we read stage directions in parenthesis.
Interestingly, it was later announced that the Special Rehearsal Edition was going to be replaced by a Definitive Edition in 2017. According to Pottermore, this new edition will be “the perfected, definitive script with final stage directions and annotations, as seen on opening night and beyond. This edition will also include extra content, such as writing from the play’s creative team.” So it will more or less be like Hamilton: The Revolution, but will it include everything that allowed Hamilton fans to be closer to the show with just one book?
We do not have the answer given that nothing else has been said about the Definitive Edition since the announcement in June 2016, but it would be ideal if this final version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child could be similar to the Hamiltome, an excellent companion which opened doors that were previously closed to the Broadway musical.
So what does Hamilton: The Revolution include that is is the perfect example of what the Denitive Edition should be for the Harry Potter fans who can’t attend the show? This book is more than just the script to show, it is a journey from the moment Lin-Manuel Miranda got the idea for Hamilton until the opening night on Broadway. Not only does the Hamiltome include the lyrics of the musical, it also adds background information on how the play was originated.
The book grows in the same way the play developed while it was in process. It is divided into chapters within the two acts of the show. Each chapter has lyrics to a song and an article written by Jeremy McCarter, who narrates Miranda’s path into creating his Pulitzer Award winning musical. These articles are related to one cast or crew member of Hamilton who was an important role on the upcoming song of the show that is included in that chapter. The lyrics include personal annotations made by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself, which let us see what what going on in his life when he wrote the song or how he came to think of those exact words for that particular melody. These are the parts of the book that bring you closer to the show because you end up discovering a whole new side to that song.
In addition, the book includes photographs during rehearsals, which help a lot to picture what the artistic process was like. Headshots of the actors and official images of the show are also included in each chapter of the book. Apart from this, Hamilton: The Revolution also included wardrobe sketches, scans of Miranda’s notebooks with the first drafts of the lyrics, historical documents, and emails Miranda exchanged with crew members.
But most importantly, you can see that this book was made for the sole purpose of putting together everything that took to make a show like Hamilton, and for the world to see it. Those who cannot experience the musical can at least have a teensy glimpse (together with the soundtrack) of what this is all about. And it could be the same for Cursed Child. We could have the same experience, we could have not just a script but a world of magic of how Thorne, Tiffany and Rowling decided to come up with this story and how it was consolidated as a play. The Definitive Edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has potential to be more than just a book, it can be the closest to the whole experience available to everyone.