This weekend, a few prominent students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry are mingling with Muggles in Tacoma.
The occasion is the Weekend of Wizardry, Washington’s first Harry Potter fan convention, which aims to be an immersive and interactive experience for the legions who love J.K. Rowling’s books about the Boy Who Lived and his friends and foes.
Among the famous folks who flew in for the event (perhaps on broomsticks, but that couldn’t be confirmed) are Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the “Potter” films, and Stan Yanevski, known in the Potterverse as Quidditch star Viktor Krum.
At least 2,000 non-magical folks and would-be witches and wizards from all over the country are gathering at the Hotel Murano, transformed for the weekend into a castle that will evoke Potter’s alma mater, said event organizer Angela Wehnert, who owns Tacoma’s Crescent Moon Gifts.
“There’ll be a lot of surprises,” she told The Olympian. “People are going to feel like they are actually in the Hogwarts castle.”
The plethora of Potterphiles can study Defense Against the Dark Arts, drink butterbeer, listen to the Blibbering Humdingers and other wizard rock bands, make wands, and transform into Animagi (face paint, the website reveals, is involved).
“We have more than 120 hours of programming,” Wehnert said. “You kind of need a Time Turner to do it all.”
Those who planned ahead will gather for the sold-out Great Feast and Holiday Ball, and those too old to be Hogwarts students might opt for the Friday night Wizard’s Pub Crawl. (The whereabouts of Tacoma’s magical pubs are as yet a mystery.)
And they’ll meet with wizarding folk from local cosplayers to most of the cast of the Off-Broadway Potter spoof “Puffs,” including James Fouhey, who plays the heroic Cedric Diggory in the play, broadcast in May in cinemas across the country.
Subtitled “Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” “Puffs” tells the Potter story through the eyes of the mostly underappreciated Hufflepuffs (the students who, if not particularly brave, smart or ambitious, are nice).
“This show — which is aimed at grown-ups, by the way — embraces the nerds,” Laura Collins-Hughes wrote in a New York Times review. “The hero here is a dweeb named Wayne (Zac Moon), raised by an uncle in New Mexico after ‘a freak chocolate frog accident’ claimed his parents.”
Another sample of the humor of the show, penned by Matt Cox: Potter’s nemesis, whose name few dare to speak, is referred to as “Mr. Voldy.”
So far as The Olympian was able to ascertain, Mr. Voldy, by whatever name, isn’t in the Pacific Northwest.
Harry and Hermione are in the house, though — in a manner of speaking.
Rowling’s hero will be represented by Paul Warren, who was Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in “Order of the Phoenix,” while the brainiest of Harry’s friends will be portrayed for the weekend by Kari Lewis of Indianapolis, whose resemblance to actress Emma Watson has gotten the attention of media outlets from MTV to Time magazine.
Weekend of Wizardry
- What: Washington state’s first Harry Potter fan convention gets underway in Tacoma.
- When: 4-10 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; registration begins one hour before event opening.
- Where: The Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway, Tacoma
- Tickets: $25-$80 for day passes, available at the door
- More information: weekendofwizardry.com