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Starkid's "A Very Potter Senior Year" review

Published: Monday, August 13, 2012

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08

starkid stage

Jane Fox

Setting the stage for the "Very Potter Senior Year" performance.

starkid fans

Jane Fox

Fans eagerly await the premier of Starkid's "A Very Potter Senior Year."

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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Wed Jan 9 2013 21:34
Umm... it was a staged reading.
Thu Oct 4 2012 12:56
It is very hard to learn a 3 hour musical in two days as they had songs dance moves and the script to learn. I don't think thats unprofessional.
Wed Aug 22 2012 20:04
18 comments on "A Very Potter Senior Year"?

War articles may provoke three comments in the DePaulia; fruit smoothies maybe two; OccupyChicago, one -- tops.


Malfoy, the little s***
Tue Aug 21 2012 20:19
I agree with everything that other commenters have said, so to reiterate would just be beating a dead horse. I just wanted to say that I love Team Starkid and everyone involved and I am so impressed with their dedication to their fans. They are clearly so passionate about what they are doing, and my only complaint with them is that the AVPM trilogy must come to an end.
Fri Aug 17 2012 23:10
As a Leaky volunteer, I'd just like to point out that the production beginning late was (more or less) planned. In order to prevent morning panels from being utterly abandoned, we personally escorted each room of panel attendees to the main stage. Obviously, this took quite a while, but the alternative was to deal with people lining up six or more hours in advance, which would have been a waste of everybody's time. If you have a better suggestion for future cons, I'd love to hear it.
Thu Aug 16 2012 20:13
I don't understand how anyone could think Starkid doesn't care anymore. The entire reason they put on this play was because the fans wanted it. They had the idea long ago but couldn't put it on because Darren is so busy, so when they had the chance they did what they could to present it to the fans. They made no claims as to what it was going to be, and from everything I've heard from fans is that they loved it. This was meant to be for the fans, and they succeeded.
Thu Aug 16 2012 17:52
It's so frustrating to read articles in which the writer has done little to no research. Get your facts straight. This was not intended to be a full production. From the get-go it was supposed to be a staged reading, meaning the actors would have their scripts onstage, so calling that "unprofessional" is absolutely ludicrous. You also fail to mention how most of the cast hardly used their scripts during the show at all, which is absolutely amazing and should be applauded given their lack of rehearsal time. Interviewing only one person who thinks that Starkid "doesn't care" which any Starkid fan can tell you is utter nonsense, gives a lopsided perception of the show. You should have also interviewed a fan who actually genuinely cares about Starkid, so that this article would not be so incredibly ridiculous and biased. You obviously do not care about or know anything about Starkid, but I would appreciate it if you would do your research next time you write an article about them.
Thu Aug 16 2012 17:49
By now you've been yelled at enough about your lack of fact checking. It was a staged reading, they threw together songs and anything extra within a few days, Darren learned the whole thing in about an hour, anything they do based on Harry Potter is strictly for fun and not for profit and make it very clear to their fans that they are just fans of Harry Potter putting on a fan parody. The most harmful thing you did though, was make an announcement at the end of your article that the show will be up on YouTube in a few days. If you were at the show, didn't you hear them TELLING you otherwise? They explained why it would take a while to get it up, after editing and so forth. Another problem: Talk about being unprofessional. I know you're only writing this for a school paper, but why would you use a quote from some random people in the crowd who say that they know next to nothing about Starkid, and present it in a way that comes off as a major point in the article? "Ryan" implied that Starkid are doing this for profit, and you used that quote as almost a centerpiece in the article. I think that even as practice for a school paper, you need to practice fact checking and responsible journalism.
Thu Aug 16 2012 17:35
Wasn't it a staged reading? Which means script-in-hand. I'm actually surprised that they seemed to have had costumes and a set, since a staged reading requires neither.
Thu Aug 16 2012 17:27
Everyone else has already pointed out why calling it unprofessional is absolutely ridiculous, so I'll move onto the other problems with this article:
1. I doubt anyone is going to be a "new viewer" to this. Pretty much everyone watching will understand the references to the other musicals. That's what happens when you do a series...
2. Of course Darren was the most awkward on stage. Did you not realized how little time he had to rehearse? It's actually amazing he did as well as he did. And if you had been paying attention, you would have noticed that the times he messed up were some of the funniest parts of the whole thing. We love Darren. Back off.
3. Did you seriously go searching for fans that didn't care about StarKid? There were a few at LeakyCon (they were pretty hard to find), but why would you go searching for them? Who cares about a few people who don't particularly enjoy one thing? It's especially appalling to quote them on how they think StarKid doesn't care anymore. Do you think they would have done this show at all if they don't care about their fans? They lost a TON of money doing this.
4. Don't say a time frame for when we should expect it online when Matt and Nick Lang themselves don't know. I highly doubt it will be only a few days.

You're just searching for reasons to criticize this show. What you need to understand is that for those of us who have been following StarKid from the beginning, this was absolutely flawless. Even though they messed up a lot, it was still the people we love doing the things they love. THAT'S what's important. Seeing AVPSY in person is something I will always remember as one of the most amazing experiences of my life.


Thu Aug 16 2012 17:27
As everyone else noted, this was marketed as a staged reading. They originally weren't intending to have costumes (hence why they needed to borrow Potter things from fans last minute), so anything that seemed thrown together was because they got overexcited as the idea built. In regards to the "confusing 3D thing", while I admit the glasses were a last minute 'huh'? it was marketed as "3D" because it was being done in real life for MANY more people than normal, so the "3D" was mostly a "hey, we'll be live on this stage! not on YouTube!" sort of thing.

As for the Potter fans who commented on StarKid, I can understand why one would feel that way, especially in a Potter space. Yes, StarKid does want to make money--but that's because they're working to make their theater company a reality, something they can live off of instead of all juggling second or more jobs. If you don't think it's wrong for Melissa to make money off of her involvement with Harry Potter (and I've yet to hear anyone say that), I don't think it's fair to say it's wrong for StarKid to. Both groups (and other performers who started in Potter) found that they had a following, and those followings demanded more than they could give while focusing on "real" jobs. Making money off of these things just makes sense. (Especially in the context of a con, where special guests typically charge a fee to appear.)

As for some of the jokes flopping--that's expected to happen, in part because this show was heinously long. As a staged reading, the time spent cutting down the script and polishing it (as they would with a normal show) wasn't put in. (Part of that may be they wanted to give the fandom everything, since it is their last Potter venture and we are demanding.) Nick Lang said they'll cut down some of the jokes that didn't work for the online version, just as they've done with all of their other productions.

The last thing here is that they've said it'll take some time to put the show on YouTube. Five cameras were operating (if I remember correctly), and with about four and a half hours of footage on each, they have a lot to sort through. (Especially because some edits to language MUST be made, in particular cutting out all of the f-words, though whether that's for legal or consistency/personal reasons, Nick Lang was a tad unclear.) Basically: in case anyone thought the end of this was serious, it's not, so just hold on a bit and don't freak out and start demanding it be put up. You'll get it. :)

Thu Aug 16 2012 17:14
I would like to mention before I continue with the comments I wrote while reading this article, that I was directed here by angered fans and under the assumption that this article was nothing but negative. While I disagree with many points (as you'll see below), I was relieved to find that the over all view of the show and Starkid seemed to be at least mostly positive. With that in mind, here are the comments I wrote BEFORE I finished this article:

"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."

1. If you actually expected them to start at noon, you are crazy. The audience was scattered around the hotel, waiting to be escorted to the show. That is thousands of fans, getting organized and slowly moving toward the room. If you thought that ten minutes was enough time you truly overestimated even our amazing volunteer's abilities. Should LeakyCon have extended the performance time to accomodate? Sure. But that is hardly the fault of the performers.

2. This was originally a read-through, with scripts on stage sitting in chairs. But the fans were so excited, and therefore so were the performers, that they decided to do as much as they possibly could in the little time they had. The fact that we had a 'performance' instead of a read-through is a really big deal, and something true fans appreciate. If you are not a fan, of course you don't appreciate the work they put into this, but for those that were there to enjoy ourselves, we had a blast, scripts or no scripts.

So far I feel like you expect way too much from people.

"But if one is a new viewer, the jokes might not be as successful."

Um... well, isn't the how pretty much an sequel works? (Especially when we're talking about the final installment of a trilogy?) You won't get everything if you haven't seen the first two. This is hardly surprising, let alone a negative.

Of course Darren was awkward - he literally had a few HOURS before the show went on to really rehearse. He'd seen the script a handful of times, and well, the man is busy. It's kind of lame to judge people for 'not being prepared' when you went into this KNOWING they were not fully prepared and why.

Not even going to comment on this Ryan person's opinion. Because, well. Yeah. They kinda have to make a living, too. They aren't in college anymore. And trust me, Starkid doesn't exactly pay the bills for them anyway. (Okay, so I commented a little...)

Thu Aug 16 2012 16:58
I agree with everything said here - it was always going to be a staged reading and the fact Darren was willing to do this says mountains. I dont care how, "awkward" he looked on stage - this meant a whole lot to him and I wouldn't want anything about the show to change. StarKid is doing nothing for a paycheck... they didn't have to do this show. Also I would like to know your facts on the show being uploaded in a few days? I was at the panel the day after the show and the writers said it may be MONTHS before anything was uploaded.
Thu Aug 16 2012 16:56
The "3D gimmick" was a joke on the current 3D trend and the fact that the reading was performed in front of an audience, therefore in 3D. I understand how that would be confusing to someone who doesn't realise that the physical universe in which we live is three dimensional.
Thu Aug 16 2012 16:54
I agree with everything said here - it was always going to be a staged reading and the fact Darren was willing to do this says mountains. I dont care how, "awkward" he looked on stage - this meant a whole lot to him and I wouldn't want anything about the show to change. StarKid is doing nothing for a paycheck... they didn't have to do this show. Also I would like to know your facts on the show being uploaded in a few days? I was at the panel the day after the show and the writers said it may be MONTHS before anything was uploaded.
Tue Aug 14 2012 14:47
I don't think the author of this article really understands Starkid. The fact that they managed to put together a show in two days is incredible. Darren Criss had had very little rehearsal time, and indeed, the performance was the first full runthrough. No one who isn't a Starkid fan would have gone to that, so none of the jokes would "fall flat". And do your research: it's JAIME Lyn Beatty, not Jamie. I'm not impressed with this at all.
Really? Do your research.
Mon Aug 13 2012 22:30
The scripts were due to the fact that the performance was a "staged reading". This is how the show was marketed. Anyone who is familiar with the theatrical community or even only Starkid would understand this.
Mon Aug 13 2012 21:10
While I respect your right to not think the show was amazing like I did, I take issue with your claim that reading their scripts onstage was unprofessional. The event was billed as a staged reading. Before the show Nick Lang stated that that had been the plan, but as they got excited about the show, they wanted to do more than just that, which led to them trying to do a full production on a very tight schedule.
Mon Aug 13 2012 20:33
A few things to point out: StarKid's intention was not to put on a full play. They had announced that it would be a stage reading of the play, hence, the scripts in the actors' hands. Darren Criss was the most "awkward" because he barely had about an hour to rehearse the play and learn all the songs since he had come straight from the Glee set, as mentioned in an interview with the writers. The others had a few days to rehearse as a full cast.
Mon Aug 13 2012 20:17
look bro, 1. this was a STAGED reading so of course they would have scripts...
2. darren criss is not starkid, he is just a part of it
3. they dont care about the money... they made $0 off their HP plays, & HMB.
4. starkid is broke...

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