It's been eight years since Australian audiences have had a chance to return to the magical world of Harry Potter.
The new Australian production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child officially opened at Melbourne's Princess Theatre last night but die-hard Potter-maniacs that have been part of the audiences for the preview shows for weeks already.
Their eagerness is good sign for a show that that has only previously been seen in London and New York.
Put simply, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child leaves audiences with their with jaws on the floor and cheering for more.
A stellar Australian cast brings the intriguing story to life but the magic created by the production team and carried out by the actors is what makes the story feel so real.
It is a long list of familiar characters that return for this story set 22 years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Listing all of them would give away too much about the plot it is safe to assume Harry, Ron and Hermione and their children feature as does Harry's old school foe Draco Malfoy and his son.
Being 22 years into the future, means it is the next generation's adventure but Harry has always been where the action is.
In terms of who the titular Cursed Child is, it changes from scene to scene and a character's situation changes or new information develops.
Heading the cast and effectively stealing the show is Sean Rees-Wemyss as Albus Potter and William McKenna as Scorpius Malfoy.
The two young wizards are unlikely friends given their fathers' history but the combination of their personalities - brought to life by Rees-Wemyss and McKenna - is the driver of the story and one of the best parts of the show.
McKenna in particular has a dorky charm that many Potter fans will find endearing and can relate to.
Gareth Reeves (Harry Potter), Gyton Grantley (Ron Weasley), Paula Arundell (Hermione Granger) and Tom Wren (Draco Malfoy) all do excellent jobs in bringing to life an older version of characters we met in our youth.
Audiences are being encouraged to "keep the secret" so that special effects, tricks, illusions and all around wizardry - along with a plot packed with character development and magic - are a surprise for people seeing the show for the first time.
Casual flicks of wands do everything from the every day tasks like lighting a room or tidying a desk right up to the complicated magic we have been privy to in other Harry Potter adventures.
For the trained eye, it is easy to see how some of these effects are done.
Some have been used by theatres for decades or longer. Others leave audiences stunned at how one thing has been turned to another.
From the outset, it takes just seconds to remember the feeling of seeing or reading about Harry being on Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
There is the classic costuming that we know and love but it is the use of lighting and simple, minimalist sets to help create so many different locations.
Parts of the back story, including some throwback references, jokes or reminders go by in a hustle and bustle that is beautifully performed by an impeccable ensemble.
Choreographed movement, combined with lovely music from Imogen Heap make these montages and scene transformations a delight to watch.
In short, the work of the cast, crew and effects masters mean there are movie effects in a stage show. It is incredible.
In typical Harry Potter fashion, the plot is long and detailed. It means the entire script is separated into two shows.
Part 1 sets up Part 2 and it means audiences will see the whole show over two nights or in an afternoon and evening session on the same day.
It is a long, big and expensive (tickets start from $130 for each part) commitment that many theatre goers and Potter fans will happily do but something that even the most eager of audience members may struggle with at times.
Even with all the wonder there are parts where the story drags.
The script was published in 2016, meaning many wizarding fans will know the ins and outs of the plot.
Debates have raged about the official canon of it all but at the end of the day it is a story that is highly engaging and there to be enjoyed and I recommend you immerse yourself in it rather than nitpick too much.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on now at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne.
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