Warning: This post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play has been enchanting audiences since preview performances began in June at the West End’s Palace Theatre in London.
Fans all over the world are eager to discover what happens in the eighth story of the Boy Who Lived, created by J.K. Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany. The show will officially premiere on July 30—the day before the script is scheduled to be released in book format. TIME recently saw the play in London and can give you a closer look at what lucky audiences — and readers — can expect to learn about the wizarding world.
1. The correct pronunciation of Voldemort: The spectre of He-Who- Must-Not-Be-Named hangs over Harry Potter and the Cursed Child like rainclouds over a British summer. But what may especially intrigue Potterheads is the way his name is pronounced — it’s “Vol-der-more.” In other words, a silent ‘t.’ This won’t come as a surprise to those who follow J.K. Rowling’s Twitter feed and saw her interaction with a fan on the subject last year. At the time she admitted, “I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who pronounces it that way.”
2. How dreadful a Dementor really is: The soul-sucking Dementors, fearsome guards of Azkaban, never seemed the most attractive of companions; they’re described as having skin resembling “a grey rotting body.” However, when they appear in Cursed Child you get a spine-chilling sense of just how terrifying the blighters can be, as they soar over the audience’s heads before swooping down on poor benighted… Ah, now that would be telling.
3. Draco Malfoy rocks a man bun: Harry’s ultimate ‘frenemy’ has grown into a proper cockney hard man in the past 19 years. But rather than the traditional skinhead look he’s instead grown his trademark blond locks into a luscious ponytail. This reflects a distinctly softer side that’s revealed to the man more famous for scowling than sonnets, as he rhapsodises over wife Astoria.
4. Gentrification has reached Godric’s Hollow: Harry’s once humble birthplace, a small village in the West Country of England, has — like so much of the green and pleasant land — been subject to the march of the middle classes. Magical historian Bathilda Bagshot may still leave her door unlocked, but with a trendy farmer’s market round the corner who knows what her thatched cottage might now be worth?
5. Harry Potter is scared of pigeons: During a touching scene when Harry is comforting his son Albus, he admits that he too has fears. These include the dark, confined spaces and, umm… pigeons. That’s right, the seemingly pointless and certainly harmless grey birds that clog up city squares the world over terrify one of literature’s most famous heroes.
6. J.K. Rowling is a master manipulator: The climax of Toy Story 3 became renowned for its ability to reduce the toughest of men to quivering wrecks, and Cursed Child has a not dissimilar effect on the hoards of aficionados packing the stalls of the Palace Theatre. We won’t reveal the cause of the emotional surge, but trust us when we say it’s a proper gut-punch and makes a large supply of Kleenex mandatory.
—with reporting by Theo Bosanquet / London
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