I will be honest – I am not a HUGE fan of theme parks. Before you start screaming at your screen, let me explain. I have vertigo and get motion sickness incredibly easily – which, sadly for me, means that most rides are a no-go. I simply cannot do them. So for me to enjoy a day at a theme park, there has to be plenty of other things to keep my attention, and that includes things like live entertainment. I was really excited when a few months ago, a plethora of entertainment was announced for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
We were privy to two performances, a set of songs by the lovely Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees and a performance of “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” as seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. Both take place in the heart of Carkitt Market, which makes up a majority of Horizont Alley – and, surprisingly, has a roof AND is air conditioned! Something much welcomed, and needed, in the mid-summer Florida sun and heat.
First up was Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. If you don’t remember who Celestina is, that’s because her reference in the books was very brief! She is mentioned only three times in the series (Chamber of Secrets, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows) and is a favorite of Mrs. Weasley. All of the songs performed are brand new, never-before-heard, and of course, titled by J.K. Rowling herself! No word on if she wrote the lyrics, but we like to think she did.
To start the performance, Celestina starts off strong with “A Cauldron of Hot, Strong Love” – the song that was directly referenced in the Harry Potter novels. It’s an uptempo, jazzy love song with lots of flare and catchy lyrics. This is the song I found myself humming for the remainder of the day.
Up next was a song about, actually, Quidditch! Celestina tells us that she was asked to record a cover of the song to help raise money for St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Puddlemere United’s team anthem, “Beat Back Those Bludgers, Boys, and Chuck That Quaffle Here,” is a fun throwback to the jazz of the roaring ’20s, complete with the Banshees brandishing Bludger bats.
The third song performed for us, “You Charmed the Heart Right out of Me,” started with a male audience member being pulled up on stage! Celestina draped her boa around him and serenaded the very gracious, good-natured attendee. The song itself is a chorus-line style show tune, complete with a kick line at the end. I can see this as being the PERFECT way to celebrate someone’s birthday… would just have to finagle a way to get them chosen!
Finally, Celestina ended with the title track from her album, “You Stole My Cauldron, But You Can’t Have My Heart,” a very classic, finger snapping jazz tune about a scorned witch and a wicked (almost as much as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!), cauldron-stealing wizard. The song also reveals details about Celestina’s wand, which is larch and phoenix feather.
Overall, the performance lasts around thirteen minutes but goes by in the blink of an eye. It’s a catchy, fun, definitely funny, break from the hustle and bustle of the (what is sure to be) very busy Carkitt Market. You can watch Celestina’s complete performance below (complete with DRAGON roar at 8:40!), thanks to our friends at Magical-Menagerie.com.
Straight out of Deathly Hallows – Part 1, the next performance was “The Tale of the Three Brothers” by a troupe of four from the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts. Told with the use of rod puppets, the performers move and “dance” around each other on stage and take turns narrating the tale.
The puppets themselves are stunning pieces of art. They’re modeled to look exactly like the animation from the film, with much success. The size and flow of Death’s robes is beautiful, and the sculpting that went into the faces of the brothers is very precise.
As for the show itself, I hope that this is a piece that continues to evolve and be improved upon. It was a nice performance and was enjoyable to watch, but there were a few things that threw it off for me. While I enjoy the rod style puppets, I still saw too much of the performers. The costumes they wear are yellow undershirts with black robes over them, and the yellow shown through too brightly for me. All black, or even brown, would’ve helped them fade into the background a bit more. There are a few points where the performers’ backs are completely to the audience, which is rule #1 of do-not-do in theater. Also, I found it profoundly odd at the end when two of the performers walked out with masks, portraying the third brother and his son, in order to hand off the Invisibility Cloak.
Overall, it was a good performance, but I think that with a few minor changes, it would be far more immersive – something Universal Orlando Resort takes pride in!
Both performances are definitely worth watching – especially when it’s hot out, and you really just need to stop for a little bit. I look forward to seeing the telling of “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” on my next visit!
In the coming weeks, MuggleNet is sitting down with the designer of the puppets, Emmy-award-winning designer Michael Curry! Be sure to stay tuned for that interview.
There are no confirmed details just yet as to how often the performances will take place, but we are guessing alternating hourly, such as the frog choir and the like in Hogsmeade.