Owls removed from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child after escape attempt
Owls have been removed from the on stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London, after one escaped and flew around the auditorium.
The stage show, a sequel to the famed series by author JK Rowling, had its first preview at the Palace Theatre in London last week.
On Thursday’s preview performance, there was a sign up saying no live owls will be used in the production.
A statement released by producers reads: “The production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently in its preview stage, with the process designed to allow the creative team time to rehearse changes or explore specific scenes further before the play’s official opening.
“As part of this process earlier this week the decision was made not to feature live owls in any aspect of the production moving forward.
“The owls that were associated with the production were expertly cared for by a team of certified trainers and an on-site specialist veterinary surgeon (Steve Smith, MRCVS) who ensured the owls’ welfare and enrichment needs were safeguarded at all times.
“This was of utmost importance to the production.”
Animal welfare charity Peta welcomed the decision to remove the live birds from the production.
“Peta commends the production team for coming to its senses and recognising that treating owls like props goes against every message of respect and kindness that JK Rowling’s wonderful books taught us,” Peta’s director Mimi Bekhechi said.
“Harry Potter can now join the ranks of innovative stage productions like War Horse, The Lion King and Running Wild which prove that animals need not be exploited for the theatre – and that the possibilities of prop design are limited only by our own creativity.”
The 1,500 audience members were given badges as they left the theatre requesting that they “keep the secrets”.
But some outlets have felt the wrath of Potter fans after revealing spoilers about the show.
Hypable was branded “Wormtaily” by Rowling after revealing some of the more intriguing secrets about the show.
One of the more significant spoilers revealed following the first night of the Cursed Child was that Hermione Grainger, a main character in the original Potter series, is now the Minister for Magic.
Despite a minor hiccup when an owl didn’t make it back to its handler, and was left flying around the auditorium, fans tweeted that they were spellbound by the new show.
The New York Times wrote: “The three main characters remained true to their younger selves… The audience cannot be more thrilled or more appreciative or more ready to be caught up in the spirit of the undertaking.”
The show’s opening night will take place on 30 July .
Written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, the show has had input by JK Rowling.
It shows Potter as an “over-worked” employee at the MInistry of Magic, and also includes an artefact from his childhood.
The play also follows his youngest son Albus, who deals with the “heavy burden” of his family’s history.
175,000 tickets for the play sold within 24 hours of it going on sale in October.
The famed author took to Twitter to warn followers to read or see the play, that they would be driven to tears.
The famed author revealed last year that she would be writing a stage show about the story after Harry Potter left Hogwarts.
Some followers of Rowling were disappointed to hear that it would only be a stage production.
However they have since been appeased, as publisher Little, Brown, announced that the script will be published in a new book.
The book will be released, naturally, on Harry Potter’s birthday – 31 July.
A description of the new book reads: “It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.
“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. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.”
The cast was unveiled last December for the highly anticipated stage play – which will act as a sequel to the series.
Jamie Parker and Paul Thornley will play the roles of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley respectively – while the casting of Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger has divided reaction online.
But Rowling revealed she deliberately never mentioned the ethnicity of Hermione – after the black actress was cast in the role.
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She tweeted: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione [kiss emoji]”.
Little, Brown CEO David Shelley said: “We are so thrilled to be publishing the script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Rowling and her team have received a huge number of appeals from fans who can’t be in London to see the play and who would like to read the play in book format – and so we are absolutely delighted to be able to make it available for them.”
Rowling earlier this year unveiled some of her rejection letters to help inspire fans not to give up on their dreams – and it was super inspiring.
The author was also named this year as one of the most philanthropic celebrities, alongside Elton John.