James Snyder Shares a Closer Look into “Cursed Child” in Broadway.com Interview
It’s been almost a month since the postponement of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was announced, but the pandemic has not stopped the cast of Cursed Child from sharing some Harry Potter magic online. Last week, James Snyder, who portrays the titular character in its Broadway production, appeared on Broadway.com’s #LiveAtFive: Home Edition to discuss Cursed Child, TikTok, and the coronavirus quarantine, as well as answer some questions from fans.
For ten weeks, Snyder has been rehearsing the play with a new director and the Year 3 cast members, who would have officially stepped into their new roles in March if not for the coronavirus crisis. Snyder has nothing but the highest praise for his fellow actors, especially James Romney, who took over the role of Albus Potter from Nicholas Podany.
The thing that changed it the most for me was getting to work with James Romney as opposed to Nicholas Podany because his Albus is a very different Albus. He was also, James, who was taking over Albus, from Year 1. So he’s been understudying Albus since Year 1. So he’s actually sat with the character for two years, jonesing to dig in. And he’s a very thoughtful kind of actor about, like, ‘Well, I have an idea. Let’s try this idea.’
Even for himself, Snyder is still discovering new things about his character one year after his debut. Through working with Diane Davis, who plays Ginny Weasley, he gained a newfound understanding of Harry’s marriage.
I think he’s much more grounded in his marriage. It’s really interesting in that, because of what we went through, I think he’s slightly more sympathetic, even. I feel like I was doing a lot of yelling, which he does. And now I’m like, I don’t know. Somehow, the marriage dynamic has shifted because we’ve had time to talk about things. And I think that serves our connection to Harry.
Despite the fact that he will be away from the Lyric Theatre for three months, Snyder hasn’t left Harry behind. He still remembers his lines from the show and continues to hone his craft online alongside his fellow cast members.
Actually, as a cast, it’s awesome. On Thursday, the 12th, when we finished, when they were like, ‘Please don’t come back,’ we finished teching the Year 3 cast into the show. So many of these kids were about to make their Broadway debuts. Then, on that next Thursday, was going to be our first invited dress. So yeah, as just a way to stay connected, we’ve been once a week going through an act.
Although he is trying hard to replicate the experience of performing at home, Snyder recognizes that it doesn’t feel the same as being onstage. For starters, he admits that he is losing his British Potter accent. (“It’s the accent that goes quickly. My mouth doesn’t quite wrap around the words as it needs.”) Not only that, but he also misses spending time with his cast members, especially the new Year 3 actors who had only just joined the production recently.
I had been rehearsing with them for ten weeks and was exhausted and was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the next week.’ I missed my kids so much. Then this happened and I was like, ‘Oh, be careful what you wish for.’ Because now I’ve got all the time in the world with them.
Finally, upon being asked what he would tell himself before his first Cursed Child performance, Snyder only had words of reassurance and encouragement.
I do talk to myself a lot, and the same thing I try [to] tell myself after every single time I step onstage, whether it’s the first time or the millionth time, it’s, ‘Listen, be present.’ Really, it’s, ‘Listen, listen, listen, and let the words do the work.’ The second I try to do something, that James starts trying to do something, it gets in the way of the audience being able to see Harry.
James Snyder gives us lots to ponder as we eagerly await the day Hogwarts returns to Broadway. Share your thoughts with us below!