Or should that be ‘Harry Potter and the license to print money?’ Vicky Smith isn’t spellbound by this spin-off
Don’t get me wrong, I like Harry Potter.
Much like schoolchildren across the country, I devoured the seven-strong book series in as many days, and find the films (dare I say it) just as bewitching. I can’t comment on the rest of the monster franchise - the theme park, the digital platform, the travelling exhibition, the award-winning play, the games, the merchandise - though I did also enjoy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
However, there comes a point when us Muggles (non-magical folk for those who really don’t know) simply become ‘mugs.’ And this new film-concert series - which recently swooped into Manchester Arena as part of a worldwide tour - is one of them.
Undoubtedly, one of the most magical elements of the Harry Potter films is John Williams’ music. The familiar score is now as synonymous with the wizarding world as the dramatic turrets of Hogwarts, the puckered face of Voldemort and the golden snitch of Quidditch - which even has a club at Manchester University and a Quidditch Premier League.
To create a concert spin-off, which puts the music at the forefront, is therefore a good idea in principle. But in reality, the orchestra played second fiddle (or rather, various other instruments) to the film. After all, when you’re beneath a 60-ft screen which is playing one of the highest-grossing blockbusters of all time, it’s hard not to avoid the same effect as Harry’s invisibility cloak.
That’s not to say the orchestra wasn’t excellent: every note was pitch perfect and, as with the recorded soundtrack, accentuated the film rather than overpowering it. But due to the logistics, it ended up feeling like a repurposing of the movie rather than anything new - and I felt sorry for the talented musicians when everyone started filing out on the rolling of the credits. As they played on, it seemed like the soundtrack to our exiting.
The event certainly wasn’t short on ticket sales: Manchester Arena has a capacity of 21,000 and I would hazard it was at least 80% full. With prices ranging from £25 to a whopping £65, that’s a lot of coinage - whoever thought up this particular money-spinner will be guffawing all the way to Gringotts’ Bank.
No doubt the diehard Potter fans in cloaks, or those that cheered and booed enthusiastically with the appearance of every character, were enjoying themselves but I’d be much happier saving my money and watching it from the comfort of my settee. OK, you don’t get a 60-ft screen but there are advantages: not having to peer over someone’s head, not having to queue for the toilet, not having to rush back home on a drizzly evening…
Unsurprisingly, the team have already announced the next film-concert event - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - so you can see where this is going.
I’ll be giving it a miss and digging out those DVDs.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert will be at Manchester Arena on Friday 8 December