It has been a long time between curtains for live theatre in Melbourne. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review not just a new theatre production, but an independent one, I was extremely excited and keen to be able to support the local industry again.
‘Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts’ is a new parody production put on by the exceptionally talented teams from Theatre Works, Red Hot Productions and Salty Theatre. I need to re-emphasise the Parody term; this production is in no way associated with the official Wizarding World. Now, with that legal statement out of the way, let’s dive in.
So, what is ‘Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts’? Well, as the title suggests, the story is set around the time of an adolescent Tom Riddle, portrayed by Alex Donnelly, at Hogwarts. Accompanied by his classmates; Hagrid (Jay Hagget), Myrtle Warren (Emily Hansford), Genevieve Griffyndor (Stephanie John), Muffin Rows (Mel O’Brien) and Derald Bacon (Jonathon Shilling), the class have been set to compete in a battle of the bands competition run by Professor Al (Ellis Dolan).
Tom Riddle is your typical moody, hormonal teenager that struggles with his feelings and inability to talk to girls. That is not all that Tom is struggling with, he is also starting to discover his dark side and is unsure what to do with it. This parody musical cleverly brings Tom’s struggles to the forefront and sheds some light into what Hogwarts might have been like when Tom was a teen. The story is also a wonderful tale of friendship, jealousy, love and loss.
I found this production utterly hilarious and admit that the story did, at times, tug on those heart strings. Not only is it a parody of the magical world, but they also borrow from the music industry to assist in the telling of this clever new tale. Alex Donnelly as Tom Riddle is absolutely fantastic and I was thoroughly impressed with how he capture the conflicted mood of a young Tom Riddle so perfectly. Not only did Tom Riddle seem very human, but also extremely relatable. Donnelly’s on-stage chemistry with his co-star Mel O’Brien was ridiculously cute and believable. A notable mention to Ellis Dolan in his role as not only the character of Professor Al, but a few other cameos that were utterly hilarious. I also can’t forget to mention Jay Hagget as Hagrid, his wholesome portrayal of the gentle giant and his beautiful voice, wow!
The production itself is set up in a lovely independent theatre in St Kilda’s Acland Street. The Theatre Works team have set up a series of isolated booths ranging from 2-6 seats, each of which is encased in clear Perspex. This allows you to comfortably sit and enjoy the production without the worry of social distancing. However, I found at times that it was hard to understand and hear the cast clearly during the production and sadly, a bit of dialogue was missed. This is likely due to an issue with sound and how it bounces off the Perspex. It wasn’t a deal breaker, however, and I feel it could be improved by a single monitor in each for dialogue.
Overall, ‘Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts’ is killingly funny and one I strongly suggest you check out before the season ends. Not just for the comedy and musical entertainment factor, but also for the interesting insight into a tale we do not know much about, set in a world that we are extremely familiar with. It might not be cannon, but it is surprisingly plausible and incredibly fun.
‘Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts’ is performing at St Kilda’s Theatre Works in Melbourne until the 10th April 2021.
Tickets are available at the venue or via their website: https://www.theatreworks.org.au
Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts is not authorized, sanctioned, licensed, or endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. or any person or company associated with the Harry Potter books, films or play.