Are There Two Casts for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not one play, but two. Are there also two casts?

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Over the weekend, the first spoiler from the Cursed Child casting leaked out, as Anthony Boyle’s agency accidentally updated his resume to reveal he was cast as Scorpius Malfoy. Looks aside, what struck me more was Boyle’s age. We have had hints that Cursed Child might not be set “Nineteen years later,” despite that being the tag line on every last piece of marketing for the show. This was evidence that indeed it was far later than nineteen years. Boyle is in his 20s–it might be more like “30 years later.”

Is this why the show has not announced which actor is playing who? The suggestions from the production so far is that we will find out “in time,” which lead me to believe they would announce who was playing who in batches as rehearsal went on, to keep the show’s profile in the news and interest high. But this discovery that “Little Scorpius” is in fact an adult gives rise to a new theory, and one I’m almost embarrassed to admit I didn’t think of until now.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is billed as “a play in two parts.” What that means in reality is that it’s two full length plays, which will run “in rep.” This is theater slang, meaning “in repertory,” refers to two shows that are running at the same time, usually with the same cast. (It comes from the old idea of “Repertory theaters” which would have their casts perform several different shows over the course of the same period, in order to get audiences to come see them multiple times.)

The Cursed Child cast is also hugeover forty actors in all. Even musicals with casts of thousands aren’t that large. Yes, fourteen of them are children who are double cast in the same role, due to the laws governing how much time a child actor can work in a given week. But even if you condense them down to their seven roles, that’s still 35 parts. A typical “large cast” is maybe 15-20 actors. This is twice that.

Two plays, and a cast too large for just one show. There’s only one conclusion: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a show with two casts. The adults playing Harry, Hermione and Ron are probably constants in both parts, which would help explain why they were announced first. I would also assume that some key characters, like Ginny, would appear in both, and perhaps a few other adult parts, so that there is a core cast that is in both shows. But the other parts–especially those of the next generation–switch off.

If this is so, then the advertising, and the emphasis on things being “nineteen years later” suddenly makes sense. Part One *is* nineteen years later. It is filled with child actors, and and set right as the story left off, with a young boy who might be Albus, and little Lily Luna and teenaged Rose Weasley. Part Two is filled with young adult actors, and is set further into the future, when Albus–and his classmates like Scorpius–have grown up, and are ready to graduate Hogwarts. This would explain how Scorpius, who is 11 years old when we see him in the Deathly Hallows epilogue, is being played by a 20 something actor.

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It also explains why the show has not wanted to reveal who is playing who. After all, this would mean many of the parts are double cast with a child roles for Part One, and an adult versions for Part Two. So far the show hasn’t even come out and admitted that time will pass over the course of the two plays–all they say is that this picks up where Deathly Hallows leaves off. If they’re trying to keep that twist under wraps, it would make sense to keep who is playing who quiet as long as possible.