10 years ago at the University of Michigan, a small student made company by the name of StarKid put on a production called A Very Potter Musical. Now 10 years later this musical, though not official canon, is widely recognized by Harry Potter fans around the world. This musical changed the fandom in ways that know one wold have even dared to imagine. Entertainment Weekly even named it one of the 10 Best Viral Videos of 2009.
Music and Lyrics by A.J. Holmes and future Emmy winning Darren Criss, and book by Matt Lang, Nick Lang and Brian Holden. These college students made their musical available on YouTube for free and soon got millions of views online. Performances featured the hilarious comedy chops and musical talent of Darren Criss as Harry Potter, Joey Richter as Ron Weasley, Bonnie Gruesen as Hermione Granger, Jaime Lyn Beatty as Ginny Weasley, Lauren Lopez as Draco Malfoy, Brian Rosenthal as Quirinus Quirrell and Joe Walker as Lord Voldemort.
These young adults didn’t simply take the book material and turn it into a musical; they took a deep dive into all the books, the movies, and the fan culture. The play mostly takes the plot from Philosopher’s Stone, Goblet of Fire, and Deathly Hallows. They also riff off the popular Disney Channel Movie at the time, Highschool Musical, and fan fiction of time.
It was an immediate hit. The success of the musical allowed StarKid productions to create an original play “Me and my Dick”, the first student made musical album to crack the Billboard’s 200, peaking at #11 in Top Cast Albums. StarKid productions soon did a sequel, A Very Potter Sequel, that also heavily parodied the fandom and became iconic.
“Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders” is arguably the most famous line from this play. It has been so ingrained into the Harry Potter fandom that many people believe that some variation is from the original books.
Lauren Lopez’s flamboyant Draco Malfoy is instantly iconic. Taking from the fandom and fanfiction, this Draco is brilliant. They follow the popular ship at the time of Draco/Hermione and have Draco crushing on her. The song “Granger Danger”, featuring Ron and Draco singing about their love for her is the second most downloaded from their cast album after the opening song of “Goin’ Back to Hogwarts.”
“Goin’ Back to Hogwarts” itself is a master piece. Around 10 minutes long, this number does a brilliant job of introducing the characters in a delightfully satirical way, including the famous lines of “Bitch I ain’t Cho Chang” and “did someone say Draco Malfoy?” The repeated phrase “Totally Awesome” is even used by Darren Criss when he won his Emmy years later.
When discussing the music and lyrics, Darren Criss has stated that while he wrote some of the campier songs, A.J. Holmes was the genius behind the more broadway type-songs like “Different as Can Be” which focuses on the hilarious take of Quirrell and Voldemort being stuck together.
Affectionately made, A Very Potter Musical is a love story to the entire fandom. At the end of the play Darren Criss as Harry Potter gives a short monologue praising and thanking the source material and that “we spend time here, made friends here, and that’s part of us.” I can personally attest to that; my best friend and I met and bonded over Harry Potter, my first job was writing for a Harry Potter Blog, and I met some amazing people I’m still close to by playing Muggle Quidditch and attending Wizard Rock concerts.
The impact of this musical and it’s sequel have been so strong that nearly every year part of the cast appears at LeakyCon, the largest Harry Potter convention in America, to reprise their biggest numbers. Even though much of the cast has moved on to larger acting roles, they still managed to get together for several concerts and A Very Potter Senior Year in 2012.
The musical is so well known throughout the fandom that Evanna Lynch who plays Luna Lovegood in the movies even joined the cast as Luna for the play.
These ten totally awesome years of A Very Potter Musical has been, well, magical. Many fans praise it and quote it every year on Sept. 1st, the traditional day that students return to Hogwarts. Fans agree that this musical written by fans and for fans has a better and more accurate ending than the official movies, which changed the ended dramatically from the books. Most Harry Potter fans also agree that this Musial made by a bunch of college students for laughs is truer to the characters than the officially licensed play Cursed Child.
With the quotable and laugh out loud experience that is A Very Potter Musical it’s no surprise that 10 years later it’s still relevant and loved. As a personal fan of the show and StarKid productions I look forward to many more rewatches and great things from the original cast and crew.