Du Laney cast in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

There’s a magical world filled with witchcraft and wizardry, a magical world that many have read about over and over again in the seven-book series of “Harry Potter.”

Patrick Du Laney Headshot
Patrick Du Laney

One Cornell College instructor is taking a big leap into that wizarding world. Patrick Du Laney just moved to New York to make his Broadway debut in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

After all of the initial screams of excitement that happened when he heard the news, he says it took a long time to sink in.

“I think it was the first time we stepped onto the stage for rehearsal that I realized I really had done this and that was pretty unforgettable,” he said. “Just to be a part of J.K. Rowling’s world, even a small part of it, that is really special. That’s the thing that took me by surprise–the realization that I’m in this world now. I’m somehow connected to the books that I’ve cared about for years and years.”

Du Laney has taught five theatre and dance classes at Cornell College, working with students as they hone their skills, and he’s been enjoying watching the new Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program grow.

Cornell’s Jenna Makkawy ’21 is set to graduate with a B.F.A in musical theatre. She has worked with Du Laney in class and has played alongside him on stage.

“He is, of course, wildly talented and I felt that I learned a lot about being engaged in a scene, just by watching him,” Makkawy said. “To hear that he got the role in ‘Harry Potter,’ is quite inspiring for me as an aspiring actress.”

Makkawy isn’t the only student Du Laney has inspired. Professor of Theatre Caroline Price says Du Laney brings a level of play, a level of skill, and a level of talent unlike any other.

“Getting to work with high-caliber guest performers, like Patrick, allows students the opportunity to up their game in rehearsal and performance,” Price said. “They are driven to rise to the challenge of playing opposite someone who is both professionally trained and performs for a living. It was so wonderful to see our theatre students grow and learn while playing opposite him in “Greek” (2017) and in “August Osage: County” (2018). They are better artists and more prepared for the professional world because of their time onstage with Patrick Du Laney.”  

The Iowa City native says rehearsals for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” started in mid-December, and he’ll make his first appearance on stage with the cast in March.

Full cast photo of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"
Full cast of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Du Laney is part of a new group that will take the places of the first-year cast. The single play presented in two parts is based on a new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. 

Du Laney’s role in the production is locked up tight because of the magic of this show. He can’t reveal what part he’ll play in the show.

“Revealing what I’m going to be doing in the show is sort of the same thing as saying ‘then in book six this is going to happen,’” Du Laney said. “So, to say something would be to possibly give something away to someone who hasn’t seen the show. I have to say I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I have never felt the sense of responsibility for a show like I have for this one.”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” takes place 19 years after the seventh book in the series. It’s the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage, opening on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre on April 22, 2018.

While Du Laney is spending his time away from the Hilltop in New York City, he’s planning to come back to Iowa and teach at Cornell when his Broadway days are over.

And it won’t take a lot of wizarding for students to see that working with Du Laney will continue to provide some valuable insight and experience for their future career goals. 

“I consider myself a teacher first, and what this experience will hopefully enable me to do–students will learn by watching me walk the walk on Broadway,” Du Laney said. “They’ll see this could happen for them too.”