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‘Potted Potter’ Brings Boy Wizard Harry And His World To The Wallis

Jefferson Turner and Daniel Clarkson in "Potted Potter."

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 – 9:23 PM

For those who love Harry Potter, those who know nothing about the boy wizard but want a fun time,  and those who want to learn all about him there’s Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience Parody—A Parody by Dan and Jeff. The two-man parody of all things Harry, with British children’s TV presenters and actors Jefferson Turner and Daniel Clarkson, condenses all seven books into 70 madcap minutes and is now playing at the Bram Goldsmith Theatre through Sunday in its L.A. County premiere.

Originally written as a five-minute sketch for a London bookstore in 2005 to entertain fans lined up to buy the sixth book, the duo’s comedy became a hit at Edinburgh’s Zoo Southside venue the next year and then went on tour.

While they wrote it for Potter lovers, the duo found that people completely unfamiliar with J.K. Rowlings’s oeuvre and who’d never heard of Dealthy Hallows, horcrux or a Hufflepuff, were also coming to their new expanded version, says Turner. “We had people saying ‘I didn’t think I’d like it.’ I guess they turned up expecting to have a rotten time.”

The two are in Beverly Hills after a stop in Orlando, where of course they visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and rode the Hogwarts Express and visited the shops. “It was fantastic. We couldn’t miss it,” says Turner “We’re obsessed and we find fans wherever we go.“

As the shorter one, he plays Harry while Clarkson, takes on all the other characters, nearly 300, including Ron and Hermione, Draco Malfoy, Snape, the Weasleys, Sirius Black, Mad-Eye Moody, Dumbledore; and He Who Must Not Be Named—Voldemort. “He can eat all the burgers he wants,” says Turner. “He moves around a lot. I stand in the middle wearing the glasses.”

There’s even an audience-participation game of Quiddich that Turner said the pair always looks forward to. They first put the bit in for kids who sometime get restless, reports Turner. But they found the adult men, those over 18, “went crazy for it. We’ll see a dad knock an 8-year-old out of the way; and it’s not his kid,” jokes Turner. “We just stand back and watch the carnage.”

How do they explain the success of the show that was a sold-out West End, Toronto and New York City hit and has become a worldwide phenomenon?

“Firstly,” says Turner, “We’re both Harry Potter fans; we’re not just making fun. He read all five books (then available) to prepare for the first show,” recalls Turner. “And I’ve been hooked ever since.

“We each love what we’re doing,” Turner declares. After doing the show more than 1,500 times, “we still try to make each other laugh and set each other up. It’s completely loopy. We always put as much energy into it as we can.”

They also try to fit in as many jokes as possible. “If you don’t like one, don’t worry, they’ll be another one coming along soon,” Turner reveals. “Some the kids don’t get and some go over the adults’ heads; but when a dad and an 8-year-old laugh at same thing, that’s a really nice feeling.”

Numerous costume changes, silly props, songs and constantly changing the show keep it current. “If something happens and we can make fun of it,” says Turner, “we will. And we’ve never been scared of a song.”

Creating the show wasn’t as hard as it appears on paper. “Dan was already a huge fan and I got a synopsis from the Internet with key points.,” Turner remembers. The first try was and hour and 45 minutes. “So it became ‘take this bit, ‘we’ve got to keep that.’” In the end they decided to focus on Harry and Voldemort’s relationship “and everything that spirals off that.”

The show has attracted the attention of stars from the films—and Warwick Davis who plays Professor Filius Flitwick (a character not in the show), Sean Biggerstaff who plays Oliver Wood, and Crabbe and Goyle, played by Jamie Waylett and Josh Herdman—have attended. And Turner is hoping Emma Watson (Hermione) shows up one day.

There was even a myth, Turner said, that Potter creator Rowling herself had tried to attend a 2006 performance but was told it was sold out and turned away. At a fan event a few months ago they met the author “and she confirmed the story,” says Turner. “Since then we always keep one ticket a side in case she wants to come.”

Last year Turner and Clarkson took a year off from a show that has entertained audiences in Australia, South Africa and Mexico. “We can’t believe the way it’s gone,” says Turner about the show they wrote in Clarkson’s parents’ front room while they were struggling actors and he was sleeping on an air bed. “We’re just two guys just messing around. We’re counting our blessings.”

Remaining performances are Saturday at noon, 4 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at noon, 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets range from $30-79 and are available by phone at 310-746-4000, online at www.thewallis.org or in person at the box office, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd.

—Steve Simmons

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