With the first public performance only a week away, the team behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have released the first in costume cast photos of three of its stars: Harry, Ginny and their son, Albus.
But what do the new pictures tell us about what we can expect from the play? Here’s your annotated guide.
Harry is suited up like the civil servant we know he has become. When we left him at the end of book seven, he was working for the Ministry of Magic: JK Rowling has since revealed he became the youngest head of the Auror Office at 26, and the play description calls Harry “an overworked employee of the Ministry”. Jamie Parker’s costume suggests a blend of the traditional establishment with Harry’s rebelliousness and familiarity with danger.
Parker told Pottermore of the costume, “He’s wearing a suit because he’s a Ministry man, but he’s not just a bloke in a suit, that’s way too anonymous.”
Ginny looks like a mix of the cool girl we know and love, blended with her mother, and a little something else. She has a perfect journalist’s bob (Ginny became a Quidditch reporter after a career as a professional player), paired with a “gorgeous, hand-knitted jumper” reminiscent of the Weasley’s Christmas sweaters. In silhouette, she might look like her mum with an edgier haircut, but with (literally) cooler colours and fabrics.
Actor Poppy Miller said the costume matches Ginny’s personality: “Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her.”
Albus’s costume is perhaps more interesting for what it hides than what it reveals – we are given no suggestion of what house he might be sorted into at Hogwarts. This is particularly interesting knowing Albus’s nerves about being sorted: the final book ended with him asking his father, “What if I’m in Slytherin?”. Rowling writes, “The whisper was for his father alone, and Harry knew that only the moment of departure could have forced Albus to reveal how great and sincere that fear was.”
Actor Sam Clemmett said, “This is what Albus wears at the start of the show. I had the idea he was wearing James’s – his older brother’s – hand-me-downs. So I wanted him to feel quite uncomfortable, and be able to play with his clothes.”
His oversized second-hand clothes also emphasise how important the role of family inheritance will be in the play. The only reminder of Albus’s older siblings, they call to mind both his Weasley heritage (Ginny and her siblings were teased for their hand-me-down robes) and the enormous legacy of his father. The play description notes, “While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.”
Again, this group picture is interesting for absences – there are no Potter siblings here, further suggesting that Albus will be the main focus of this new story. It also continues to place an emphasis on family through the generations – if Albus donned a pair of specs, this could easily be a picture of James, Lily and Harry. Even the posture is reminiscent of the Mirror of Erised shot from the first movie.
Update 1/6/2016: new pictures were released this morning. Let’s take a look!
Hermione looks a tad serious in this first picture, and her deep blue robes are the most formal and magical outfit on display. We know she has an important job reforming the Ministry of Magic after she finishes her education (she becomes Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement) – this outfit seems to match that.
Weirdly, in the books, dark blue robes indicate a rather low-level Ministry job – “everyone from Magical Maintenance wears navy blue robes”, Ron tells us in book seven. Perhaps this is part of Hermione’s democratizing reforms?
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Ron has the same cheery expression and ugly knitwear as we know and love – at least he’s got a proper wand.
JK Rowling says, “Ron in his forties isn’t very different from Ron in his teens, except that his feet hurt a bit more. Paul’s so funny and brilliant in the role.”
Actor Paul Thornley added, “We had to make it look as though he doesn’t really care what he wears in the morning. We wanted to find a jumper, that is definitely his favourite jumper, and that I think gets washed occasionally. He wants to essentially be comfortable at all times, hence comfortable cords, comfortable jumper, comfortable shoes. I don’t believe he’s a man who spends an awful lot of time shopping.”
Rose is the image of her mother here, with a proud posture and excited smile. This matches her description at the end of Deathly Hallows, where she is pictured on Platform 9¾ “already wearing her brand-new Hogwarts robes,” and beaming. (“Thank God you inherited your mother’s brains,” says Ron.)
There is a stripe of yellow on her cardigan – which may or may not correspond to her Hogwarts house. Despite having two parents in Gryffindor, yellow is a Hufflepuff colour. She is, like Albus, concerned about this at the end of the books:
“If you’re not in Gryffindor, we’ll disinherit you,” said Ron, “but no pressure.”
Lily and Hugo laughed, but Albus and Rose looked solemn.
Actor Cherrelle Skeete said: “Rose is ambitious, obviously her mum is Hermione so she’s got a lot to live up to. I think they’re quite similar in the fact they put a lot of pressure on themselves. And she just wants to do the right thing.”
J.K. Rowling agreed: “Rose is like her mother, but more secure, more grounded. She was born to wizards and knows her place in the world. Cherrelle plays her perfectly: bossy but deeply loveable.”
Granger-Weasley Family Portrait
This lovely shot is warmer than the Potters’ group picture (perhaps the Granger-Weasley’s have less darkness in store in the play). We get a better look at that cardigan, and Ron and Hermione look extremely proud of their daughter: it could be a school picture taken on Rose’s first day. Like in the other group shot, there is no Hugo – Rose’s younger brother – present, emphasising that the focus of the play is firmly on the year group starting school.
An intriguing hint at what next week’s play might hold for audiences.