Review: Unique theatre experience rounds out Potterfest

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 at 5:03 PM
Review: Unique theatre experience rounds out Potterfest by Nathan Brennan
Photo: Nathan Brennan

If you love Harry Potter and weren’t in Edinboro over the past week, you truly missed out on something great: Edinboro Potterfest. With a variety of activities and fun to be had both on and off campus, the annual event is always sure to entertain.

This is especially true of the play put on at the Diebold Center for the Performing Arts to close out the festivities this year, which, according to Professor Corbin Fowler, was called "Enchanted Insanity.”

And ‘Insanity’ it was, in the best way possible.

Right from the beginning, it was apparent that this was no ordinary theatrical experience I’ve grown accustomed to. Before the performance even began, a rousing round of Harry Potter trivia was played with the audience, and if you answered correctly, you earned a piece of candy; as for me, I got a Butterfinger.

Then the play began, and it could clearly be seen that it was truly made for the fans. In the style of a spoof, the performers lovingly made fun of the source material, going book by book to cover the stories main plots, with the addition of a clever use of props and plenty of jokes along the way. A common running joke, for instance, was making actors play multiple roles (such as cast member Adam Leute, who played both Hagrid and Professor Dumbledore), which led to more even more hijinks.

They even did their own rendition of popular songs; since last Potterfest, a movie called The Greatest Showman came out, so naturally the show began with their version of “The Greatest Show,” with words changed to fit the occasion: instead of “This is the greatest show,” the cast sang, appropriately enough, “Welcome to this year’s show.”

Later on, when Harry needed motivation to fight the dark lord Voldemort just after they just finished telling the Goblet of Fire story, Hermione and the cast cheered him up with their version of “The Greatest Showman” smash hit “This Is Me,” instead singing “Yes, Harry.”

Then, in a surprise twist, a “theatre official” intervened in their song to tell them to clear out the building, abruptly bringing about the end of their show; this led to their finale song where they, to the cheers of the audience, performed their version of the popular My Chemical Romance song, “Welcome to the Black Parade,” sung by Harry himself along with the cast.

The craziest part? According to Harry Potter actor Chole Loose, the cast had only nine rehearsals to get ready for the show. Working with such a time constraint could really be stressful, but Loose took it in stride, instead looking at it as “really a test of skill” to be able to put it together so quickly.

This year’s show was Loose’s fourth, but his first as the title character, which he described as exhausting, mostly as a result of plenty of lines to learn on top of his responsibilities with the marching band, but he always has fun doing the show, especially in such a main role: “It was amazing!” he said.

And while the rehearsal process is short, the development of the show takes place over the summer, according to the show’s director Maribeth McCarthy, an EU alumnus who also starred in the show as the Ginny Weasley.

She has been directing the Potterfest shows every year since its inception eight years ago in 2010, and safe to say, it’s been a handful: “It’s a lot of work. Every September its been a part of my life,” she said.

Nonetheless, every year, she comes back, along with the magic of the theatre; and while the cast changes a bit from year to year, it only gets stronger. Describing the show as a “cluster of awesomeness,” she and the cast gave it their all, and enjoyed every moment. “It’s a cumulation of all the best we have to give!” said McCarthy.

Fun was definitely a common theme with this play, and the cast surely delivered.

Overall, “Enchanted Insanity” and its talented cast brought a refreshing and hilarious take on Harry Potter and theatre in general, and they can count on me to come back again for next year’s Potterfest.

Nathan Brennan can be reached at

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