Two former BBC children’s hosts, Dan Clarkson And Jeff Turner, have co-written a hit show called, Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff in which they’ve boiled down all seven of the Harry Potter books into 70 minutes. The two entertainers, who have affability to spare, also star in the production, playing every character in the hit show, which had four sold out runs in London and Edinburgh and generated rave reviews in the U.K. Toronto marks the show’s first North American stop. Dan and Jeff recently spoke with Maclean’s; they even performed the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in under a minute (almost). And we’ve got the video to prove it.
Q: How did you manage to get JK Rowling to give you guys her blessing?
Jeff: Well, some of her team came to the show very early on so obviously they know it’s happening and she knows it’s happening and that’s kind of where it’s at. We are very much the unauthorized Harry experience. But I mean, she’s been lovely because obviously she’s huge and powerful and could pretty much do anything, and yet we’re here in Toronto doing the show so we’re doing something right.
Q: Why did you choose Toronto for your first stop on your North American tour?
Dan: We were in the West End in London and a promoter came to see the show and loved it and said to us, “Have you thought about coming to Canada?” And Canadian humour and the comedians who’ve come out of Canada have been a really huge influence on us, like Mike Myers and Jim Carrey, and going far back to Eugene Levy. And so straight away we thought, “Yeah, this is the perfect place for this show to go.”
Jeff: I’ve got a fair number of Canadian friends back home in the UK and it does seem like the Canadian sense of humour is similar. It has the same sense of dryness as the British sense of humour whereas the American sense of humour is maybe a little more raucous—still very funny, of course, but maybe just a little more obvious. The Canadians seem to get the subtleties like the Brits do. So we thought it would be a nice, friendly place for us to come to and debut.
Dan: And we had never been to Canada so we were like, “Brilliant, a holiday!” The show is actually getting in the way of the holiday.
Q: You both do all the characters but I’m wondering: Dan, is there a character Jeff does that you wish you got to do, and vice versa?
Jeff: Well, I’m just Harry pretty much all of the time and I’m quite happy with that.
Dan: I wish he did loads more, so he could give me a bit of a rest.
Jeff: I do like Snape, and I think Dan’s Snape is very good but I’d like to have a little go at that. But I’m quite happy just watching him run around the stage while I just hold the book with some glasses on and say, “You’re doing very well, Dan. A bit faster, though. Come on, pick up the pace. Let’s go!”
Dan: Let’s be honest, Harry Potter as a character is a bit boring, isn’t he, though?
Jeff: He’s the hero!
Dan: I’m more than happy not to play Harry Potter.
Jeff: He’s the hero! What is wrong with you?
Q: So Dan, which character do you like playing most then?
Dan: I love playing Voldemort. He’s this dark lord; he’s lord over all that is evil and yet he keeps on getting gazumped by this 11-year-old boring child.
Jeff: He’s not boring!
Dan: Maybe it’s your portrayal of him because I don’t find Radcliff’s Potter boring. It’s more just yours.
Potted Potter plays at the Panasonic Theatre from February 11 to March 25. Find out more here.