Being 21 years old and being a part of a Tony-award winning Broadway play (6 Tonys’ to be exact!) is something most performers dream of. For Joey LaBrasca, that dream is a reality. This star of a performer has been a part of the award-winning play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One and Two for two years now and is constantly making magic onstage in this spectacular show. I got to talk to Joey recently about his life on Broadway and the absolute magic of theatre. Read below for my interview with Joey!
How has the transition been from being in the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Year 1 cast to being in the Year 2 cast?
The transition from the original broadway company to year two has been thrilling. It’s inspiring to see the way a new company of actors can approach a story you’ve heard literally hundreds of times and find new ways of telling it. Furthermore, I have the privilege of going to work with a bunch of really smart, hardworking, kind individuals which is a bonus.The tone of this year is also somewhat less manic. There was an anxious excitement that colored the first year company. It was easy to get distracted by things that existed outside of the work. We were the exciting new show on the block and I definitely got swept in the pageantry of it all. Of course the build up to opening the show was a dream, but it’s nice to get to settle into the show now and really just focus on the storytelling.
Who have been your biggest inspirations in your career, both onstage and offstage?
I have so many it’s hard to keep track. The first and most obvious is my dad, I tend to not be very shy about telling people that. James Dean, Albert Camus, James Bond (and several of the actors who have played him), Daniel Day Lewis, Andrew Scott, my english teacher sophomore year of highschool… I mean the list really does go on and on. I’ve had the privilege to work with some really brilliant people in my career thus far and I’ve learned lots from them. Noma Dumezweni comes to mind, as does Poppy Miller, Geraldine Hughes, and Kathryn Meisle. I did a reading with John Gallagher Jr. a few months ago and was kind of speechless the entire time. I guess if I was looking to mimic anyone’s career (which I’m not) it would be his.
You play Dudley Dursley, Karl Jenkins, and Victor Krum in the show. Dudley and Victor have already been established in the original book series whereas Karl is a whole new character. What was the process like of approaching each character?
It’s undeniably special. I mean it’s not every day that you get to play in a world created by Jo Rowling...as far as any sort of development of Karl, much of what makes Karl Karl is based on his dynamic with the other students. So that’s subject to change show to show. At the top of the show, I have great opportunities to connect with some of the other students, and the game is seeing how that develops over the following 5 hours. As far as Viktor and Dudley go, both of those characters are so extreme and exist so briefly that there was never any feeling of living up to a preconceived expectation of what the character was supposed to be like. Dudley has been a fun excuse to be silly with some seriously talented people though, last year I shared that scene with Kathryn Meisle and Byron Jennings and now I share it with Fiona Reid and Stephen Spinella. I have to keep reminding myself that the opportunity to work with people that brilliant on a day to day basis doesn’t come along that often.
You understudy both Albus and James Sirius in the show. What’s it like covering two different tracks? Do you have a favorite track?
Understudying and covering were new to me at the beginning of the process. And anyone who has covered on this show can attest to just how challenging it can be. But I was being asked to tackle a challenge that I was really passionate and excited about, so that mitigated the anxiety a bit. Of course it is a lot of material to remember, but I figure I’m in the wrong business if I have a problem with memorizing stuff. Potter also does a great job of creating companies that are incredibly supportive, which gives an understudy the freedom to relax a little, and ultimately improves the quality of the show. I like different parts of all three tracks I know, so I don’t know if I could call any of them my favorite.
What is your favorite scene of the show that you aren’t in?
This one is tough. I love when I have an opportunity to watch the show from the audience’s perspective, because this show is all about where you see it from. I have a dream of calling out of the show one day just so I can sit in the back of the theatre with a hat pulled low over my eyes and see what all the fuss is about. I guess my favorite scene in the play is one I’m not allowed to talk about. I will say the way we come to the climax of part 2 is pretty intense for anyone who has a history with the Harry Potter canon. And the way that entire sequence is devised is just really really good theatre. The writing is powerful, the perspective isn’t what you expect as an audience member but it makes so much sense, the tech for the moment is so simple and yet so emotionally complex, the music is just so impactful (I swear Imogen Heap is not of this earth), and as I’ve said before, the performers I work with are so smart and pick apart the complexity of the moment so well, it’s awesome to watch.
If you could play any other character in the show, who would you play and why?
Draco for the ponytail.
What message do you hope audiences take away after seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway?
Parents are imperfect, children are imperfect, everyone is imperfect. The standard of perfection is unrealistic and yet we hold others to it all the time, and we hold ourselves to it almost constantly. Everyone has problems they’re trying to solve, demons they’re trying to exercise. Oftentimes we don’t ask for these problems, they’re simply dumped on us and we’re left to blindly pick up the pieces. I think Cursed Child is the opposite side of the same coin Harry dealt with for seven books. Harry spent his childhood dealing with problems he didn’t ask for. Over the course of the play, Albus does the same thing. Albus says he “didn’t choose to be his son,” Harry says he didn’t “go looking for danger he was forced into it,” and even in the emotional resolution of the play he says he’s “flying without wires here.” Nobody has any idea what they’re doing, we are all figuring it out as we go, making decisions on the fly, “flying without wires” as it were. You play the hand you’re dealt and at the end of the day, that's the best you can do. I think if we gave people more credit, and worked harder to understand that everyone around us is just trying their best to get by, we might not be so critical of one another. It’s only when Albus and Harry are able to be honest with one another, about their insecurities, their fears, and what concerns them, that they can recognize, in spite of the burden they place upon one another, that the love they have for each other is the only thing that matters.
Fun Question! If you could pick any show to be revived on Broadway right now, which would it be?
I’d want to revive a Miller and Tysen musical called “The Burnt Part Boys” and give it the broadway run it deserves. If you haven’t listened to it, it’s all on Spotify and it is awesome. Michael Park and Young Noah Galvin are on the recording. Skylar Astin was a part of it for a while. The score has this insane bluegrass inspired musical theatre sound that Miller and Tysen do so well. Hands down, no questions asked.
You can keep up with Joey by following his social media, listed below:
And, make sure to catch Joey in Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One and Two playing at the Lyric Theatre!
Thank you to everyone who read this blog post and to Joey for taking the time to answer these questions!
Sending love and light,