Lumos Maxima! Neil Austin Creates Magic for “Cursed Child”!


A lot has been said about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, both the rehearsal script and the play itself. Perhaps part of the magic readers-turned-critics are missing is seeing the story unfold in person.

Shedding some light on a portion of the play that often seems to be forgotten, a new series featured on Broadway World is helping Potter fans get to know the lighting designer for Cursed Child, Neil Austin.

BroadwayWorld’s “Let There Be Light” series sat down with Austin last week to discuss his career, along with the role lighting plays in helping a production succeed. Chief among the decisions made in his career are which productions to take part in. Austin revealed how he signed on for Cursed Child, saying,

Actually, on Cursed Child I’m with a team I’ve never worked with before; it came about from John Tiffany and Sonia Friedman kindly suggesting me. It’s so extraordinary to be involved with this project – I never imagined I would be.

He goes on to talk about working with Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender, stating he’s been nurtured by them.

They knew from the very start what their vision was, chose people they thought could deliver it, gave them the financial and creative facilities, and let them get on with it. Cursed Child has been . . . jest an utter delight.

Austin then reveals that despite what he’s used to, he was given access to the play from the first rehearsal.

Unusually for Cursed Child, I was in the rehearsal room for the whole period. It was revelatory, watching what everyone else did. I hadn’t realised how much time they have to experiment – like the actor trying things out 100 different ways, or the writer redrafting. I did sit on my hands sometimes, desperate to jump in, but it was definitely worthwhile being able to point out a few bits, knowing if you do X on that part of the stage it might not work, but here it will.

As we indicated before, lighting for productions such as these is meant to be an unsung hero, calling zero attention to the changes it creates within each scene,  but Austin reveals the challenge of his job on the Cursed Child set, saying,

The biggest challenge we have in Cursed Child is what you don’t light or can’t light, because you’ll reveal too much. We call it facilitators versus ninjas – facilitators can be seen, like the actors pushing the staircases, versus everything you’re hopefully unaware of in the shadows.

Finally, he hopes that fans of Potter will give theater a chance, happy at the new blood entering the doors for their first experience at the theater.

I’m so proud of Harry Potter, because it’s a love letter to theatre. We’ve got people coming who’ve never been to the theatre before, and as a creative, you can really say, ‘Yes, this is the one to come to – if you’re not dying to come back to the theatre at the end of this, it might not be something you’re going to love.’

What do you think? Does the technical magic of lighting a show like Cursed Child make you want to spread your wings and fly off to see a new rendition of “Nineteen Years Later”? Tell us how you feel by commenting below!