OGDEN — What do you get when you cross Harry Potter, Jim Henson, and Dr. Seuss? A wonderfully delightful evening with Fairly Potter Puppet Carol at Ziegfeld Theatre. Written by their own Richard Rea, Ziegfeld hits off their traditional Christmas production directed by Colton Ward.
The show starts off with the Narrator reading the story of Jerry Potter to a sick boy puppet in the hospital. With it’s clear parody of the Harry Potter plot line by J.K. Rowling, Jerry Potter gets an invitation to Hogwash and finds out he’s a wizard. The clever script goes over the main points of the books fairly quickly and finds Jerry Potter disgruntled at Christmas time, Headmaster Bumblebore in need of finding a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and You-Know-Who scheming to take over Christmas and kidnap Father Christmas.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Ziegfeld theatre thought outside of the box and brought the show to stage with some fantastic puppets that are worthy of visiting Sesame Street and the Muppets. Puppets designed by Timery Teis, Morgan Parry, Caleb Parry, Rebecca Knowles, Sandra Booth, Michael Booth, and Eb Madson are incredible in detail and design. The professors and staff at Hogwash and Father Christmas are the largest and most intricate puppets. Details such as Headmaster Bumblebore’s beard and cape, Professor Meowgonnagal’s cat puppet, and Professor Trelibra’s hair and ribbon scarves are captivating to look at. Professor Alan Rickman’s nose and frown create a clearly recognizable resemblance to the talented late actor.
Headmaster Bumblebore, played by Caleb Parry, has a deep resonant voice that is perfect for the oversized two man puppet. The introduction of the teachers with Alan Rickman (Michael Reis) singing a Hamilton parody is so enjoyable. Reis’ impersonation of Alan Rickman is amazing and leaves one thinking that the spirit of Alan Rickman has come to the theatre for the night. Reis also plays the part of Father Christmas with a delightful large Santa puppet.
Although the plot line is fairly transparent, the show is enjoyable because of its comedy and references to so many pop culture shows and books. They make sure to point out that without best selling books and shows, we wouldn’t have enjoyable parodies. Ward compiled an extremely talented team of actors and actresses. They clearly have a great time poking and prodding many fandoms and genres with wit, puns, and blatant stealing of plots and characters. Most actors play multiple characters throughout the show and have quick costume changes and even quicker puppet changes.
Madson not only plays Professor Squirrel, but the Sorting Hat, Deloras, PolarBear 1, and Voldy. His rendition of You-Know-Who is pure comic delight as he meshes Voldy with the silly mannerisms of Jim Carry’s Grinch. Not only did Madson play so many characters, but he was also the Artistic Director for the show creating a simply magical experience.
Harmony Brainery, played by Rebecca Stephens, is based off of Hermione Granger’s character in Harry Potter. Stephens does a fantastic job with this roll. She was cheerful and bright with her pop riffs and song in, “Most Magical Time,” and, “Wait Another Day.”
The famous Jerry Potter is played by Dylan Floyd Panter who does a fine job playing this beloved character. Although he was under pitch in, “This Could be the Year,” and in, “How Many Miles,” his dance skills in, “Most Magical Time,” are fantastic.
There were many set changes and large sets designed by Knowles. The moving staircases and set pieces with doors for puppets to pop out were only a couple examples of many items that perfectly set the magical scene. Sound design such as Moaning Mona and the Christmas Spirit’s voice effects replicate the same eerie effects of spirits voices from the movies. Projection designs such as the Hogwash castle scenes and dragon fire also by Knowles were marvelously done. The vision of Bagrid (Tim Behunin) riding a blow up dinosaur costume still makes me chuckle.
Grab a date, take the kids, unplug the Nintendo, pick up grandma from the care center, and take them to see Fairly Potter Puppet Carol at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Ogden. This comedy is enjoyable for the whole family and will leave you joyful and filled with the Christmas Spirit.