StarKid Productions, the Chicago-based theater troupe originally from the University of Michigan, returns to their roots with their latest musical, “A Very Potter Senior Year”, which debuted at LeakyCon in Chicago this past weekend.
The theater troupe, which has been busy these past couple of years with “Starship”, “Holy Musical B@man!”, “Space Tour”, and “Apocalyptour”, completes their trilogy of Harry Potter-based musicals with this final installment that promises to be the “Dark Knight Rises” of their works.
Harry Potter, the boy who lived (not died), must face his final year at Hogwarts and save the school with his peers, all while coming to grips with his diminishing popularity. Friendships are tested, romances intertwine, and life lessons are learned in this coming-of-age musical about the boy who lived, but must find something worth living for.
Originally set to start at noon, technical difficulties resulted in the show starting an hour late and ending two and a half hours later than promised. Despite all this, fans enthusiastically lined up outside the International Ballroom where it took place and patiently waited for the show to start. Screaming fans sung the songs to previous StarKid works and proudly displayed their StarKid merchandise, be they pink sunglasses, blue headbands, or anything else associated with StarKid. It would be safe to assume that 80% of LeakyCon attendees came to see the final installment in the Potter parody and the con centered itself around this huge event.
Once everything was ready, StarKid director Nick Lang came out to introduce himself and say a few words. Because the musical would already be four hours long, applauding every single performer that came out wouldn’t be allowed. And because of the hectic schedules and rehearsal times (the event had to be put together in two days), performers would have to read directly from the script.
Once the show started, fans were in for a big surprise as surprise guests popped up, characters from the previous plays returned, and a brand new twist on Harry Potter opened right before their eyes. StarKid is known for their lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek, wink-at-the-audience humor, and much of the comedy was derived from the fact that StarKid has such a huge fanbase. This musical was meant especially for those StarKid fans and many of the jokes were continuity jokes that probably wouldn’t work on people watching the StarKid production for the first time. Being a musical about senior year, writers Brian Holden, Nick, and Matt Lang created a more adult-centric play with a bit more profanity and innuendos than their previous works. Though much of the humor derived from this fell flat, it was the more endearing humor that made people laugh and stayed with the audience (“awws” and tears could be heard towards the end of the play).
The StarKid performers had a vitality that was felt all around the room. Perhaps it was because of the massive gathering of Harry Potter fans at the Hilton, or perhaps they had an obligation to please their long-time admirers, but actors such as Joey Richter, Jamie Lyn Beatty, and Joe Walker slipped so easily into their roles that it was hard to separate the performers from the characters. Darren Criss, the poster boy of Starkid, brought his A-game to the stage and created an entirely new chapter in the Harry Potter fandom.
Though a couple of slips occurred during the play, it was a part of the charm of StarKid Productions. They’re a professional theater troupe, but they’re also fans at their core and these slips only further blur the line between the famous and the fans.
“A Very Potter Senior Year” will be uploaded on their Youtube channel in a few days, unedited and uncensored.