HARRY POTTER AND THE VINYL ISSUE By Peter Filichia
Extra! Extra! Hey, look at the headline that just might be on the front page of The Daily Prophet.
“HARRY POTTER” SCORE NOW ON VINYL!
We’re talking about THE MUSIC OF HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD (PARTS ONE AND TWO). Imogen Heap’s much-acclaimed score won her the 2017-2018 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a Play.
I showed my admiration for Heap’s achievement last November when the compact disc was released. Here’s the link in case you missed it: https://www.masterworksbroadway.com/blog/harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-music-wizard-please-by-peter-filichia/
Now, Masterworks Broadway – in a move worthy of a time-turner – has made a transfiguration. Maybe poisonous toadstools don’t change their spots, but there’s alchemy at play here. However, instead of a base metal being turned into gold, we can get fanciful and say that the plastic and aluminum that make up the CURSED CHILD CD have turned into a good ol’-fashioned vinyl.
Only Flobberworms and the muggliest of Muggles won’t respond to this item that’s worth its weight in chocoballs.
There aren’t many two-record sets of music from plays, but HARRY POTTER is no ordinary Broadway play. In case you’ve been obliviated and don’t know all about this smash hit, here’s the story: the moment that CURSED CHILD – already a London sensation – had its tickets go on sale for its Broadway run, they started selling faster than you can say “Fizzing Whizzbee!”
Neither Part One nor Part Two has ever had an unsold ticket since the marathon event began previews on March 16, 2018 at the Lyric.
That theater, not so incidentally, is Broadway’s largest. If even one of the 1,938 seats has ever been empty in the last sixteen months, the reason has been sickness, wakes, funerals, shiva or traffic.
We don’t know what Professor Trelawney’s Divination would tell us about the eventual length of the Broadway run, but don’t look for the show to have a Deathday Party any time soon. Grosses are routinely over the $1 million mark each and every week; that even includes the recent one when a Saturday night performance was lost because of that midtown New York City blackout.
With business such as this, one might think the production has drunk The Elixir of Life that will keep it around now and forever.
The recording of Imogen Heap’s music will be, too. So much of it has enough charm that even a Dementor couldn’t keep you from feeling its joy.
Given that we’re talking about vinyl, you know you’ll soon read a sentence with the words “warmer sound.” So much of the album now seems sweeter than lemon sherbet.
Because Heap used an obscure instrument called an array mbira – which approximates the sound of a harp – it is even more soothing on vinyl. So too is the marxophone, which provides the zither-like sounds. Even the steel drums come across as more welcoming.
Those who extol the virtues of vinyl don’t take long to bring up another issue. To them, size matters.
So in comparison to the vinyl, the original five-by-five-and-a-half-inch CURSED CHILD CD looks as if it’s been enhanced by an Engorgio charm. The result is a twelve-by-twelve-inch gatefold album – meaning one that has two record jackets attached in the middle. Once it’s in your hands, someone may well need to use the Expelliarmus spell to pry it out of them.
Thus the liner notes – eight pages worth – are also twelve-by-twelve-inches in a booklet. You won’t have to say “Aparecium!” to find it; it’s right inside the left-hand record jacket.
If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, the twice-as-large picture inside a gatefold long-playing record album must be worth even more (and quite a few galleons, too). In this singular twenty-four-inch-by-twelve-inch picture, you’ll see The Great Hall with eleven important characters center stage. In case you haven’t been to the Lyric to catch the show, the picture also will make you understand why Neil Austin won both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Lighting of a Play.
Usually the logo of a cast album is identical to the one used on a show’s window cards (i.e., small posters) and three-sheets (i.e., large ones). The play at the Lyric offers a winged nest with Albus inside it; both recordings have a more pleasant image: one of the characters (guess who!) is walking along and leaving a trail of musical notes.
They’re worth hearing. No, you won’t hear The Weird Sisters, but music that’s far more evocative.
Even a few years ago, stores that sold picture frames seldom if ever offered twelve-by-twelve-inchers. Four-by-six, five-by-seven and many others, yes – until someone realized that record aficionados enjoy displaying their favorite albums on the walls of their dens and playrooms. So if you really like this HARRY POTTER logo, there’s a frame store ready to accommodate you.
The initial volume of J.K. Rowling’s legendary-to-be series takes place in 1991. At that time, when Harry bought recorded music, he probably would have opted for a CD, for long-playing records were virtually extinct.
Not any longer. Vinyl has made a comeback, and CURSED CHILD – which is set in the here-and-now as well as the approaching future – will help its renaissance.
So whether you prefer a CD or LPs, you can now get Imogen Heap’s THE MUSIC OF HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD right here and now on this site. Don’t depend on an owl to deliver it in the mail to you – and definitely don’t wait for it to fall off the back of a broom.
Peter Filichia also writes a column each Monday at www.broadwayselect.com and each Friday at www.mtishows.com. He can be heard most weeks of the year on www.broadwayradio.com.