Starkid’s “A Very Potter Senior Year” review

Starkid Productions, the University of Michigan natives turned Chicago-based theater troupe, is at it again with the third installment of their Harry Potter parody trilogy titled “A Very Potter Senior Year.”

“A Very Potter Senior Year” tackles Harry’s last year at Hogwarts and his diminishing recognition now that he’s older and that newer things are replacing him.

They premiered the performance of their final installment at LeakyCon, the annual Harry Potter convention that took place here in Chicago this past weekend at the Hilton downtown.

With an impressive start to a fruitful career ahead of them, both in the Harry Potter community and the musical theater collective with their original productions, Starkid attracted thousands of eager fans to its final Potter parody performance. Screaming teens sang songs from their previous plays and wore t-shirts, novelty sunglasses and headbands embroidered with the company’s logo. It was a fully-fledged fandom.

After starting an hour late, the first act was three hours long. There was a confusing promise of a 3D gimmick. They also tried to put together an entire show in two days. Granted, it is understandable that since everyone is on their own schedules it is hard to set up rehearsals, but reading the scripts on stage? Kind of unprofessional.

Some of the jokes really worked, but some flopped. Most were references to their previous shows, so they definitely know their audience. But if one is a new viewer, the jokes might not be as successful.

Darren Criss, who is easily the most recognizable face of Starkid thanks to his debut as Glee’s Blaine, was the most awkward on stage. Instead, his costars stood out despite unsightly setbacks in lack of rehearsal. Joe Walker, Joey Richter, and Jamie Lyn Beatty carried the performance and were truly wonderful to watch in person.

The songs were catchy, as ever, and highlights of the show. Because of the lack of rehearsal time, some of the best laughs were due to the almost improvised and light-hearted folly.

If you get to see it in the future, look forward to a surprise celebrity performer, as well, who even the most basic Harry Potter viewers will recognize.

However, not everyone was as excited for Starkid as others. Ryan and Laura, Harry Potter fans hailing from Georgia, were not anticipating the performance and tried to avoid the thronging crowds. They were standing in line for a premiere showing of a Harry Potter documentary. Ryan said that at first Starkid was genuine and the performers didn’t expect much out of it and that they were just doing it for fun. But now they’re doing it to get a paycheck. “[Starkid] cared, but not anymore,” Ryan said. “They’re nice people. I feel bad talking about them.”

While “A Very Potter Senior Year” was not as good as the first, “A Very Potter Musical,” it has provided an excellent opportunity for those involved to branch out with their art and appeal to the masses.

Brian Holden, actor and co-writer for “A Very Potter Senior Year” (alongside the brothers Matt and Nick Lang), said that Starkid was “an opportunity for us to do something right out of school.”

They make most of their money through t-shirt sales, mostly because they don’t want to anger Warner Brothers, who holds the rights to the Harry Potter name. The Intellecutal Properties department said they weren’t going to sue as long as Starkid didn’t charge for admission.

All in all, Starkid appeals to many different kinds of people. We can appreciate their work as both fans and artists.

“A Very Potter Senior Year” will be on Youtube in a few days on the Starkid channel.

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