Give My Regards to Broadway

intro 2A few weeks ago, Katie, Marissa, and I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway. Just…soak up the epic-ness of that last sentence. I’d love to share our theater-going experience, but first, I do solemnly swear there will be NO SPOILERS about the content of the play itself.

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Katie was the one who started the Broadway ball rolling. In the fall of 2017, she entered and won the ticket purchase lottery. And that is how, eight months later, Marissa, Katie, and I journeyed to Manhattan to witness wizarding wonders. We were really excited.

dana with sign 3Like, really, really, really, REALLY excited.

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The performance is split into two parts. Part I runs for 2 hours and 40 minutes, which includes a 20 minute intermission. Part II is 2 hours and 35 minutes with another 20 minute intermission. The way Katie purchased the tickets, we saw both parts on the same day, with a dinner break.

Cursed Child is playing at the Lyric Theater, which underwent a massive, multimillion dollar renovation in order to host the play. The co-designers (Christine Jones and Brett J. Banakis) must be huge Harry Potter fans because you can absolutely feel the love, care, and creativity that went into creating a totally immersive experience.

For example, there’s a circular room that’s filled with a huge mural of patronus. Their bodies incorporate BOOK quotes! They are the masterful work of UK artist Peter Strain.

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A little further in the theater is a multi-story staircase. Very elegant.

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But the best part is the ceiling. Look at this…!

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The lowest level was decorated to resemble the Forbidden Forest. The pillars are natural wood that has painted over. So they resemble highly stylized tree trunks.

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Take a closer look at the carpet, too. A delicate little custom H emblem for Hogwarts.

carpet 3 Custom gilded wall paper too. I fell in love with the the balcony-level wallpaper…

Even the merchandise areas were stylish. The Lyric has a couple shops, concession stands, even bars for the grown-ups! This is a shelf in one of the candy areas. I love the branch, glass goblet, and books. There were cool old books on display everywhere.

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Finally, it was time for the show to begin. Here’s the interior of the theater. If you look closely at the stage, you’ll see stacks of old-fashioned suitcases. The first scene takes place on the platform in King’s Cross Station.

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I promised no play spoilers, but what I can say is…wow. Wow wow wow wowie-WOW. It was a masterpiece of acting, music, choreography, lighting and stage illusion. Some of the illusions were BIG. And some of the illusions were such simple, beautiful little touches, it brought tears to my eyes. There were inside jokes for book fans, and the return of much-loved characters (even if it was ever-so-briefly). Without giving anything away, I will say that the production crews used every single bit of that theater to tremendous effect.

The end of Part I will simply take your breathe away. Seriously. I didn’t exhale for 3 minutes while things played out. Here’s Katie’s son and niece giving their reactions to the conclusion of Part I.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child kept us utterly enthralled for 5 hours and 15 minutes. There were 3 curtains calls to a massive standing ovation. The cast and crew deserve every single bit of that applause and more. They put their whole hearts into what will forever be one of the highlights of my literary life. Bravo.

Katie Hits the Roadshow

Get ready to have a serious case of the envies. Katie got to go on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW in San Diego last week. ANTIQUES ROADSHOW! So of COURSE I asked her to blog about it. Take it away, Mrs. Fifteen Minutes of Fame!

My grandfather was a collector. He collected books, magazines, newspapers, maps, ephemera, stamps, and posters, among other things. He also dabbled in selling some of the items he collected, but he was far more passionate about buying and collecting than he was with selling.

After my grandparents passed away, I inherited the book and stamp collection. I’ve been slowly working my way through boxes and shelves of materials, discovering many historical and interesting pieces that I had no idea my grandfather had purchased. To be honest, my dear grandfather himself likely forgot he had some of the things in his collection.

My younger brothers have also been given some family heirlooms, and we’ve often talked about how we should get the items professionally appraised. One of the places we jokingly said would be fun to take our items is the long-running PBS television series, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. When ANTIQUES ROADSHOW released its schedule for the 2018 season, I sent one of my brothers a text and said “Hey, if I get tickets, want to come to the ROADSHOW with me?” And that’s how he and I ended up in San Diego over Memorial Day weekend with our carefully packed treasures in tow.

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW was held at the historic Hotel del Coronado, which is a gorgeous wooden Victorian beach resort built in 1888.

The ROADSHOW took over the entire hotel property, with appraisal tables inside the magnificent Crown Room and on the Windsor Lawn overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Film crews and producers were staged in the main appraisal areas, but roving crews were wandering the crowds and filming unique items throughout the day. Our first stop after having our tickets checked and receiving a ROADSHOW wristband was the Ballroom, where we waited to have our items reviewed by a general appraiser.

There we were given tickets to meet an appraiser in specific categories: Asian Art, Collectibles, Folk Art and Prints & Posters. The Collectibles table was outside on the Windsor Lawn, but the other tables we needed to visit were inside the Crown Room.

My brother and I (and occasionally my son) slowly made our way to the four category tables, met with the appraisers and had them look over our items. The appraisers gave us information about our antiques in general terms and provided us with both an auction and insurance estimate of value.

My day was absolutely made when I met Nicholas Lowry, one of the more recognizable ANTIQUES ROADSHOW appraisers, at the Prints & Posters table.

The story of the ROADSHOW was lines. One must be very patient and wear comfortable shoes when attending ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. We waited in a lot of lines. However, the long wait gives you the opportunity to meet and talk to others from across the country, each with fascinating stories about the items they brought to be appraised. One woman came well prepared to wait in the never-ending lines.

We were standing behind this woman when one of her items was chosen to be filmed by a roving film crew.

While waiting in lines inside the Crown Room, we saw four appraisals be filmed. We also paused to watch a gentleman have his mandolin appraised on camera in the Garden Patio.

It was quite interesting to observe the production and get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into filming ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. It’s a lot more complicated than it appears on television, with the antique owner and appraiser recording several explanation takes before the value estimate occurs. By doing it this way, the producers can capture the genuine look of surprise (or disappointment!) when the dollar amount is spoken.

I won’t reveal any secrets about the appraisals we watched live, but I will share that my brother and I were not selected to have our items filmed for an upcoming episode of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. It is possible, however, to perhaps see us walking through the crowds or standing in one of the many lines!

My son braved the cameras and filmed a short clip in the ROADSHOW “Feedback Booth,” which runs during the credits, so maybe he’ll appear a future show.

As soon as we wrapped up our final appraisal, we left with smiles on our faces and hungry stomachs that needed to be fed. We have to wait until January 2019 to watch our episode of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW air on PBS, but the event provided us with fantastic memories we will never forget.

For those of you who may be planning a future visit to San Diego and the Hotel del Coronado: definitely stop by the sweet shop for a treat. The gelato they serve is excellent.