Inside Harry Potter on Broadway's custom-built theater

When a play as magical as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child comes to Broadway, it needs a venue that can immerse you in its world. Here's what's new inside the Lyric Theatre.

The fans expected by the droves for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway aren’t the only ones dressing up for the occasion.

 

A production as magical as the eighth official story in the Harry Potter franchise needs the right setting to bring the show to life.

 

In honor of the play’s preview opening, Ambassador Theater Group has unveiled its makeover of the Lyric Theatre. The venue closed for renovations in April 2017 to transform into a theater that could’ve come straight from the wizarding world.

 

The first thing you’ll notice is the theater’s facade, which was moved from 42nd Street to 43rd Street and got way more than a standard marquee change:

 

Co-designed by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s set designer Christine Jones and Brett J. Banakis, “the top-to-bottom redesign and renovation” was largely because of the stage.

According to Harry Potter Theatrical Productions, the shape of the stage had to be significantly altered to create "a bespoke home that will be intimate enough for a drama.”

While the production didn’t provide any specific details about the cost or extent of the changes, Sonia Friedman, the show’s co-producer in both London and Broadway, told the New York Times that the first balcony was brought forward and walls were knocked to make the front of the theater “narrower and shallower.”

All that hard work paid off with a record nine trophies at the 2017 Olivier Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Tonys. Among three nods for acting, Cursed Child won for best new play, direction, set design, theater technology lighting, sound and costumes.

“The stagecraft is such a massive part of the story that you still don’t know what will happen when you come into the theater,” the show’s scriptwriter Jack Thorne told the Times.

Unfortunately, the new design shrank the theater by 400 seats, from 1,900 to 1,500, and a prime seat in the orchestra will run you upwards of $1,200 for two people.

If that’s more galleons than you’ve got kicking around in your vault, the show has also set aside 300 seats priced at $40 or less per part for each performance, with 150 of these seats going for just $20 per part.

The renovation was done by the nonprofit New 42nd Street dedicated to the restoration of older venues along Midtown’s most famous block, Yorke Construction, Marvel Architects, the U.K.-based acoustics firm Charcoalblue and the New York Economic Development Corporation.

“We are proud that Broadway audiences are going to experience the beautifully renovated Lyric Theatre that has been so sensitively and lovingly designed,” said Mark Cornell, CEO of Ambassador Theatre Group. “We couldn’t have asked for a better group of collaborators.”

For everything you need to know about the play, check out our preview guide, then find out how to enter the weekly digital lottery for $40 tickets to the show.

 
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