The Boy With an American Accent
News broke yesterday about casting calls for the Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The press release includes an indication that while preferring British actors for title roles, casting directors are open to a mix of British and American actors. While many probably cheered at the prospect of playing world-renowned characters on such a stage, I found myself a bit weary of the words.
Personally, I cannot imagine going to see Cursed Child and hear an American Harry Potter. Not because I hate American accents, or that I’m opposed to an American Harry (hello, StarKid), but because J.K. Rowling expects fans to accept this eighth story as canonical. And a canonical Harry would not be American, and you know why? Because he was born and raised in England.
The same goes for every other character in this play. They are British, and thus far, I expect to hear an accent from across the pond. Does this worry no one else?
MuggleNet staffers and I talked yesterday about the news, and they raised some valid points, including hiring dialect coaches, which I hope would be the case should an American be cast. Now, I recognize it comes across that I am very anti-American actor. However, that’s not where I stand. I am very anti-American actor who cannot perform a British accent.
Case in point is Anthony Boyle who plays Scorpius Malfoy. Boyle himself is Irish and performs each show with an accent separate from his natural one. There are critics who may have opinions on just how well he does perform said accent, but for the case of an example, it’s there.
For months I have read the reviews, heard the numerous awards, and listened to stories on how incredible this production is, plot-wise aside. Now that it is coming to the States, I hope to be blown away as much as everyone else has been thus far. An American accent will ruin it for me, but even worse would be a poor British accent.
It’s comparable to watching your favorite television series, one you’ve known for years, and then a character acts in a way that makes you snap out of it and say, “No, that’s not right.” Or the ending to a book series with a finale so unexpected, unreliable, and so un-anything you’ve read, you have a bad taste in your mouth where you put the book down and walk away, never looking back.
I understand the arguments on how accents can be spared from productions without ruining the final product, but this isn’t Shakespeare, it’s Potter. Potter sticks with me, and I know it like the back of my hand, and when I think of Potter, I think British. This argument is personal to me, and it may not even matter to some of you.
It may be up to the director of the production on what happens, and I’m fairly confident the accent will not be forgotten. Performances of the same material occur around the world in different matters, but let’s remember this is Broadway. It’s as big as the West End, and it is not a joke for the play to be crossing seas.
In the end, I’m hoping whoever gets cast, and they shall be so lucky to do so, preserves the authenticity of Potter with the proper tongue. When I traveled to England last summer, I was crushed at my inability to acquire tickets, and I am fortunate to live 40 minutes outside of Manhattan, where my chances, now, at seeing the show have dramatically increased. I want to feel the same wonder as hundreds do every night, and I want to step inside the theater and be at Hogwarts – not Ilvermorny. That’s another story, for another day, with another accent.
What are your thoughts on American casting in this production?