Posted by: mdmusingsie | October 8, 2017

William Shakespeare, meet Harry Potter

For a change of pace, the next few posts will be about exploring the state of Virginia in the USA where I spent 10 days visiting a friend and touring many interesting and historical sites.  The first stop and the most unusual was Staunton (pronounced without the ‘u’), Virginia.

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Blue Ridge Mountains, VA

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Above the Dixie Theater, Staunton, VA

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Staunton, VA – I’m a sucker for a turret

When I was researching things to do in Virginia I came across the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton.  Being a life-long thespian, I thought this would make a perfect stop on our tour.  When I had trouble finding a hotel in the area I checked to see what else might be going on and discovered the town was having a Harry Potter festival that weekend (the festival is officially called Queen City Mischief and Magic).  They’ve already announced the dates for the 2018 festival, if you’re interested – make sure to book your hotel at least 2 months in advance.

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We only arrived on the final day of the festival but based on the program they had all kinds of events for adults (Wizardry Wine Tasting and Wizard Cabaret) as well as children (Quidditch games, Horcrux hunt, Potion making, etc.).  Butterbeer and chocolate frogs were only a sampling of the Potteresque treats available at local shops.

Most of the stores and restaurants along the main street in town participated in the festival.  Each participating venue had a collector’s card you could pick up.  There were 78 in all though I think I only have a little over a dozen.

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Collector Cards from Queen City Mischief and Magic festival, Staunton, VA

It wasn’t just children dressed as characters from the books and movies; teens and even adults got into the act.  By mid-afternoon the streets were thronged with people.

To escape the late summer heat wave, we headed for a matinee at the American Shakespeare Center where they performed Much Ado About Nothing – thankfully, in period costume (I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Shakespeare – no modern dress!).  While staying true to the bard and the story, they did intersperse a few modern tunes into the play at strategic places, fitting the lyrics to the current action. It worked wonderfully well. The theatre is gorgeous wood, built in the style of the Globe in London (but no open roof).

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Blackfriars Theater, Staunton, VA

Before the show part of the cast appear as minstrels in the gallery, belting out a few tunes to entertain the gathering audience.  They also sold beverages and snacks from a cart on stage both before the play and during the intermission.  If you really want and up-close, personal view of a play, there are a half-dozen stools on either side of the stage where you can sit and possibly even participate in the play.

What a wild, wacky, and wonderfully magical day in Staunton.

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