Review: Potted Potter

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

What's a poor Muggle to do? It's been a few years since J.K. Rowling published the final installation of her Harry Potter series. Since then, we've had Hunger Games and Hobbit films, but we seemed to be tapped out on boy wizardry.

Enter Potted Potter's young Brits, James and Del, a comic duo charged with keeping the magic coming for a little while longer.

A whirlwind romp through all seven books (they claim 70 minutes, or 10 apiece, though the show probably runs closer to 90), Potted Potter was devised as entertainment for fans waiting in line to get a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. As the series expanded, so did the show, and its creators, Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner, followed their success with a mini-Potted empire, with sub-franchises of Potted Pirates and Potted Pantos. James and Del (James Percy and Delme Thomas) also perform with a third actor, Gary Trainor, subbing in along the U.S. tour.

Though "potted" is British slang for loaded or intoxicated (or, more to the point, briefly simplified), this potting leans toward the zany and earns a solid G rating. As straight man, James is tasked with taming Del's antics and educating him on the finer points of Potter. With hand puppets, a PowerPoint presentation, and a game of quidditch that includes a couple of volunteers, the entire audience, a beach ball, and a larger-than-life golden snitch, young readers and those to whom parents still read hardly have a moment to fidget.

The jokes are aimed squarely at those not tall enough for certain rides (a play on the "Deathly Hallows" becomes a silly riff on "hellos"), but bits such as Del's confusion about the contents of Rowling's oeuvre - he has provided a wardrobe for the set because, he says, "How else can you get to Narnia?" - at the very least nod at a wider demographic.

Plenty of British accents (Dickensian, Shakespearean) and musicals vie on Philly stages for family entertainment dollars this time of year; only one offers a duet of Voldemort and Harry singing "I Will Survive."

It's not for everyone, but then again, neither is Hogwarts.

Through Jan. 4 at the Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St. Tickets: $35-$85. Information: 215-972-1000, PrinceMusicTheater.org.

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