It’s party time for ‘Pot­ter­heads’

Lo­cal fans host cel­e­bra­tion for eighth in­stal­ment of beloved se­ries by J.K. Rowl­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - BEATRICE FANTONI

A BURLING­TON BOOK­STORE will be trans­formed into a wiz­ard­ing world on July 30 to wel­come the lat­est in­stal­ment in the Harry Pot­ter se­ries.

“We’re try­ing to make it a true fan ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Lau­raine Woods, an avid reader of J.K. Rowl­ing’s ac­claimed se­ries and who, along with some fel­low “Pot­ter­heads” as they’re called, will host a mid­night re­lease party at A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer Books for “Harry Pot­ter and the Cursed Child.”

The Satur­day night event will be com­plete with cos­tumes, props, trivia, a scav­enger hunt, a sort­ing hat and for­tune telling in the style of gog­gle-eyed Pro­fes­sor Trelawney. Fans of all ages are en­cour­aged to come sport­ing their wiz­ard robes or house colours and bring their wands.

The beauty of the Harry Pot­ter sto­ries is they ap­peal to all gen­er­a­tions, says Woods, alias Pro­fes­sor Pomona Sprout and a Huf­flepuff at heart. “If you like it, you re­ally like it,” she says.

The first in­stal­ment of the block­buster book se­ries, “Harry Pot­ter and the Philoso­pher’s Stone” was first pub­lished in 1997 in the U.K. Since then, the Harry Pot­ter books, which chron­i­cle the ad­ven­tures of ac­ci­den­tal wiz­ard or­phan Harry and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witch­craft and Wiz­ardry, have gone on to break best­seller records world­wide and de­velop a ded­i­cated fan base.

The eight movies spun out of the books, star­ring Daniel Rad­cliffe as the messy-haired, be­spec­ta­cled Harry and an all-star cast, have gar­nered sim­i­lar suc­cess.

Harry Pot­ter’s ap­peal spans not only lan­guage and cul­ture — an es­ti­mated 450 mil­lion copies of the books have sold world­wide, in-

clud­ing 11 mil­lion in Canada, in more than 70 lan­guages — but age groups, too, with Rowl­ing’s whim­si­cal uni­verse be­ing dis­cussed not just in el­e­men­tary school class­rooms but univer­sity lec­tures, aca­demic con­fer­ences, Comic Con-style con­ven­tions and in­for­mal fan groups like the one Woods launched, which in­cludes a mix­ture of re­tirees, work­ing adults and stu­dents.

Woods started host­ing an an­nual Harry Pot­ter “con­fer­ence” at her house three years ago, com­plete with Quid­ditch in the back­yard, crafts, re­search pre­sen­ta­tions and themed food, as a way to spend time with her teenage niece and nephew and her daugh­ter. That tra­di­tion has car­ried on, and it’s what in­spired the re­lease party for the lat­est book.

“Harry Pot­ter and the Cursed Child” picks up 19 years af­ter the sev­enth book of the se­ries, “Harry Pot­ter and the Deathly Hal­lows.” It’s writ­ten as a two-part stage play based on an orig­i­nal new story by Rowl­ing, Jack Thorne and John Tif­fany. In it, Harry is now an em­ployee at the Min­istry of Magic and his son, Al­bus Severus Pot­ter, is strug­gling un­der the weight of the fam­ily legacy.

Ian El­liot, the owner of A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer, says the look and feel of the book­store are very fit­ting for the event.

“It’s a spooky old place,” he says, de­scrib­ing the old three-storey Ed­war­dian brick house where A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer is lo­cated. “It does have a cer­tain aura.”

The store’s nooks and cran­nies will be dec­o­rated by life-sized (or al­most) props made by Pot­ter­heads like Karen Al­berti, whose Harry Pot­ter per­sona is Pro­fes­sor Pud­dle­duck (not an ac­tual char­ac­ter in the books, but a name her late hus­band chris­tened her with).

An avid crafter, Al­berti says she finds the Harry Pot­ter sto­ries in­spire cre­ativ­ity and are a great way to es­cape ev­ery­day life. Over the years she’s cre­ated like­nesses of the Weasley car, Firenze the cen­taur, big hairy spi­ders and even the pesky blue pix­ies.

Mean­while, fel­low Pot­ter­head Judy Hors­ley, who will don the robes of Gryffindor House’s Pro­fes­sor McGon­a­gall, is still hunt­ing down stuffed an­i­mals to stand in for Ron Weasley’s pet rat Scab­bers and the cranky Hogwarts cat, Mrs. Nor­ris, in time for the event … and prac­tis­ing her Bri­tish ac­cent.

“Adult play is won­der­ful,” says Hors­ley, who used to teach chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. “I’m also a huge Mag­gie Smith fan,” she adds, re­fer­ring to the ac­tor who has played Pro­fes­sor McGon­a­gall through the film se­ries.

There have al­ready been a few dozen pre­orders for the book and lots of in­quiries about it, El­liot says, and he ex­pects the buzz will last well into the sum­mer.

“It will be a dif­fer­ent read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for sure,” says Rachel Woods, Lau­raine’s daugh­ter, an el­e­men­tary school teacher who might very well pull on her Moan­ing Myr­tle cos­tume for the event. “I have no idea what to ex­pect.”

Harry Pot­ter en­thu­si­asts from left: Lynda Wal­droff dressed as Sy­bill Trelawney, Judy Hors­ley as Pro­fes­sor Minerva McGon­a­gall, Lau­raine Woods as Pro­fes­sor Sprout, and Rachel Woods as Moan­ing Myr­tle are host­ing a party at A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer for the launch of the eighth Harry Pot­ter book.

CATHIE COW­ARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Harry Pot­ter fans are host­ing a party on for the launch of the eighth Harry Pot­ter book at A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer Books in Burling­ton.

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