Stage Wizardry: 'Potted Potter' takes audiences on fast-paced funny ride of Boy Wizard's adventures

2012-11-23T00:00:00Z Stage Wizardry: 'Potted Potter' takes audiences on fast-paced funny ride of Boy Wizard's adventuresBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

It's a question they are so often asked.

Has actor Daniel Radcliffe, the film face of the "Harry Potter" movie series, ever been in the audience for a performance of the silly antics that unfold during "Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff?"

"He almost caught our show once while we were performing it in London," said Jeff Turner, one of the quick change duo who dreamed up the concept.

"He was also in London when he was doing his West End run of 'Equus' and it was all arranged for him to slip in and catch our show. But then, at the last minute, his people decided maybe it wasn't such a good idea for him to be in such a small space with 500 'Harry Potter' fans surrounding him in the audience."

But Turner is still hopeful it might still happen, especially since what began as a "small show" is now earning comical acclaim around the world and attracting more audiences now than ever before.

Broadway In Chicago and Starvox Entertainment and Potted Productions' have teamed to bring the hit off-Broadway show, "Potted Potter" for a holiday run that has already been extended.

It opened last weekend and plays until Dec, 23 at the Broadway Playhouse at Chicago's Water Tower Place and then starts an extended run by moving to the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Dr., for added time Dec. 26 to Jan. 6, 2013.

Written and performed by former BBC Television hosts Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the latter who prefers to be called simply "Jeff," the play takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing, or "potting," all seven Harry Potter books into 70 madcap minutes, aided only by what's billed as "multiple costume changes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwarts magic."

The show also invites audiences to engage with a real life game of "Quidditch," but according to Clarkson and Turner's "unique set of rules." The creators emphasize the show is enjoyed by audience members as young as age 6, and its appeal spans both dedicated fans who know every character to casual "Harry Potter" audience members who might not have ever read any of the books and have only seen glimpses of the various films.

Turner said his role in the show is less complicated, since he only portrays Harry, the boy wizard with the famed lightening bolt on his forehead. It's his partner Dan who juggles slipping in and out of more than 300 character identities.

"We met back in 2004 and Dan started me with street performing, which led to this project," Turner said.

"Do we sometimes get our characters mixed up during the show? Of course, and it's part of what makes it so funny."

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