Performing Arts

Harry Potter gets funny, fast-paced send-up at KC’s Starlight Theatre

Joseph Maudsley (left) is confronted by James Percy, wearing a wig and proclaiming himself Draco Malfoy in a performance of “Potted Potter” at Starlight Theatre’s indoor stage.
Joseph Maudsley (left) is confronted by James Percy, wearing a wig and proclaiming himself Draco Malfoy in a performance of “Potted Potter” at Starlight Theatre’s indoor stage. jsleezer@kcstar.com

The main stage at Starlight Theatre is usually home to Broadway actors and rock bands. This week, however, it’s the scene of epic battles, breathtaking special effects and great performances by a cast of hundreds.

Just kidding. It’s two looney Brits with cheap sets and a fog machine. They only (pretend to) wish they could put on a bigger show.

Created by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, “Potted Potter” is basically a drunken Cliffs Notes version of J.K. Rowling’s seven-book “Harry Potter” series. James Percy plays serious “Potter” expert and straight man to Joseph Maudsley’s clueless goofball, who keeps getting their subject mixed up with other fantasy franchises. He’s only certain about two things: Quidditch is awesome, and there’s a very impressive dragon in Book 4.

Percy and Maudsley have a finely-tuned rapport, so much so that it’s hard to tell when they’re really flubbing gags and cracking each other up, and when those mishaps are part of the script. They condense the books chronologically, pausing to check in on Maudsley’s attempt to finish “Deathly Hallows” before the show ends.

The pair’s funniest moments come when they bring the audience into the act, especially during a re-enactment of the Quidditch World Cup. It’s not quite the exciting game “Potter” fans have dreamed of, although it’s probably more fun, and certainly safer. The intimate setting of Starlight indoors means no one is entirely safe from the mayhem, but it’s all family-friendly (except for a couple of references aimed at the grown-ups).

“Potted Potter” never slows down, and it’s a miracle that Percy and Maudsley can still breathe after 70-plus minutes of running around, doing silly voices, even closing with a disco number. They’re always fully charged, making sure even the dumbest jokes get an energetic push.

If you’re not already a “Harry Potter” fan, you will be more confused than enlightened at the conclusion of “Potted Potter.” You’ll still have a good time, though, even if it’s unclear why the kid next to you in the funny robe is in hysterics. Great comic timing doesn’t require magic.

Onstage

“Potted Potter” runs through Jan. 24 at Starlight Theatre. Call 816-363-7827 or go www.kcstarlight.com.

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