Harry Potter play hits London stage

LONDON: Harry Potter fans were buzzing with excitement Saturday ahead of the opening gala of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", a stage play that imagines the fictional boy wizard as a grown-up father of three. After nearly eight weeks of preview performances that received rave reviews from critics, the Palace Theatre in London throws open its doors to the general public for a new adventure in the saga that has captivated millions around the globe.

Creator J. K. Rowling has begged fans not to give away any plot details after seeing the show. Set 19 years after the events of Rowling's seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", the play sees a grown-up Potter working at the Ministry of Magic.–AFP

The official plot outline for the play reads: "While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.

"As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places," it said.

Jamie Parker plays Potter, who is joined on stage by his old school friends Ron Weasley, played by Paul Thornley, and Hermione Granger, played by Noma Dumezweni.

Albus actor Sam Clemmett has been a big hit, as has Anthony Boyle as Draco Malfoy's son Scorpius.

The performance is split into two shows, each lasting around two and a half hours. The first showing is at 2:30pm (1330 GMT), with the second at 7:30pm (1830 GMT).

The script will be released in Britain at midnight on Saturday (2300 GMT), with bookshops planning to stay open into the wee small hours to satiate the desires of Potter fans.

July 31 is the birthday of both Rowing and Potter.

Rowling's books have sold more than 450 million copies since 1997 and been adapted into eight films.

The theatre show is written by English screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne, based on an original story co-written with Rowling and the play's director John Tiffany.

Given the millions of fans around the world, the decision to move the characters on two decades was seen as risky.

Like many of his fans, Potter has now grown up and has three children with his wife Ginny Weasley, the sister of his friend Ron.

He still has his trademark round-rimmed glasses and the scar on his head, a permanent reminder of his nemesis Lord Voldemort, but must now help his youngest son Albus confront the family's dark past.

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" is currently sold out, but another 250,000 tickets are set to go on sale next week as the play's run has been extended until December 2017.

"Judging by the whooping and cheering, nobody was disappointed," Clare Fitzsimons wrote in the Daily Mirror newspaper after the first preview showing last month.

"The storyline, a hymn to friendship and teenage misfits, contains enough twists to please the most knowledgeable of fans," Hannah Furness wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

"Any fears that the world of Hogwarts on stage would struggle to compete with the multimillion-dollar special effects of film were quickly kicked into touch".



Orlando helped Katy with DNC speech

LOS ANGELES: Orlando Bloom helped his girlfriend Katy Perry perfect her speech for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 31-year-old singer addressed the crowd about the importance of voting before her performance of new single Rise at the political convention on Thursday. Katy, who has endorsed the Democratic Party's presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, said: "Both of my parents are pastors, and staunch Republicans.

I didn't finish high school and unfortunately, I don't have a formal education, but I do have an open mind and I have a voice. "So I'm asking you to have an open mind and to use your voice, because on November 8th, you'll be just as powerful as any NRA (National Rifle Association) lobbyist. You'll have as much say as any billionaire. Or you can just cancel out your weird cousin's vote, if you like.""It's not where you come from; it's what you grow into," she added.–CM

While the Roar hitmaker didn't mention her Orlando's name on stage, he was in the audience, proudly filming his girlfriend's appearance on his cell phone.

HelloGiggles co-founder Sophia Rivka Rossi live-tweeted Perry's speech on Thursday and was clearly impressed with one powerful phrase.

"It's not where you come from, but what you grow into," she posted, tagging the pop star and using the hashtag "#DNCinPHL."

The singer subsequently responded to Sophia, revealing the Pirates of the Caribbean star was in fact responsible for contributing the poignant line to her piece.

"Lando (sic) put that one in", she proudly revealed, adding a red heart emoji to show her love for her man.

Convention-goers spotted the pair holding hands backstage, and an eye-witness told People.com, "Katy's eyes conveyed her emotions. Orlando was happy. You could tell."

Katy endorsed Clinton for U.S. president last October (15) and has since campaigned for the candidate at numerous fundraisers. And it's not the first Democratic candidate she's supported, despite her parents being Republican. In 2012, she performed at multiple events in support of President Barack Obama's bid for re-election to the White House.

Clinton will go up against her Republican Party rival Donald Trump when Americans head to the polls in November.




Jackman shocked by Barbra collaboration

LOS ANGELES: Hugh Jackman was shocked when Barbra Streisand asked him to duet with her. The 'Wolverine' actor is one of the collaborators on Barbra's new album 'ENCORE: Movie Partners Sing Broadway', where they sing 'Any Moment Now' from the play 'Smile' and he admitted he couldn't believe it when he received an email asking him to take part.

Hugh said: ''I was like, 'I don't know how on earth this has happened.''' Hugh was Barbra's first choice for the song and she explained: ''Being an actress, I like to sing songs that give me something to act. I heard the song and I thought, 'this is a way for me to use actors who act and sing with Broadway material.'''

The album also features Daisy Ridley, Anne Hathaway, Alec Baldwin, Seth MacFarlane, Patrick Wilson and Jamie Foxx. Next month Barbra will embark on an eight-date tour across the US with two dates at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on August 11 and August 13. The tour will be the first time Streisand - who is married to actor James Brolin - has been on the road since 2012's 'Back to Brooklyn' tour.–CM

 The run of shows will be in support of the 35th LP; a follow-up to 2014's 'Partners', which went platinum in the UK and US selling 500,000 copies in each country.

The 74-year-old songstress teased at the end of 2015 that she had an ''idea'' for a new record and praised her hard working team for having no ''ego'' when it came to collaborating together.

She previously shared: ''I love doing my albums because I have a wonderful team that I work with. I have this idea for the album that I can't talk about yet.

''But there's no ego in it. It's like, I'll say something, they come up with something, and, 'Oh! Ah! Go to the piano and try this!' It's like doing a play.''