The Magic of Theatre

7 Jun 2024

You may have heard a rumour that A Child of Science, the latest production to open at BOV, might involve not one, but two actors associated with the phenomenon that is Harry Potter

Not only Tom Felton (well known from the movie franchise) but also Jamie Glover who played Harry himself in the West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. What are the chances? Well, quite high actually. 

We were inspired to dig into the archives for our latest "Tenuous Links to.." blog and were spoiled for choice. There's certainly magic in this theatre..

John Hurt in The Arrest. (Photo courtesy of University of Bristol Theatre Collection)

John Hurt as Ollivander

In 1974, a fresh-faced John Hurt arrived at Bristol Old Vic for the world premiere production of The Arrest by Jean Anouilh, translated by Lucienne Hill, John Hurt played “The Young Man” and wasn't he just! (Photo Derek Balmer). His hugely acclaimed career spanned five decades. He received numerous awards including the BAFTA Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award in 2012 and was knighted in 2015 for his services to drama.

He gained an army of new fans by portraying wandmaker Garrick Ollivander in the Harry Potter film series.

Alan Rickman as Professor Snape | In Ubu Rex, 1977 (Photo courtesy of University of Bristol Theatre Collection)

The mighty Alan Rickman first appeared as Severus Snape, the potions master, in 2001 and played the role throughout the series until 2011

Alan Rickman is the only actor to make it onto this Greatest Villains list twice - as the scene-stealing Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Hans Gruber in the greatest CHRISTMAS movie of all time, Die Hard.

He performed at BOV many times in his early career but we loved his performance in Ubu Rex from 1977. 

Geraldine Somerville in The Glass Menagerie, 2024 (Photo Marc Brenner)

Geraldine Somerville played the role of Harry's mother Lily J Potter

She made her professional stage debut at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in 1989, playing Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, before returning to the play over 30 years later in the role of Laura's mother Amanda. This terrific production played at BOV in May this year.

This wasn't the first time Geraldine performed at Bristol Old Vic, appearing in 3 productions in her early career including a leading role as Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in 1992.

Kate Fleetwood with David Farr in rehearsal (photo Manuel Harlan) | Kate and Sophie in a lift at the Ministry of Magic | Sophie Thompson on stage In Times like These (Photo courtesy of University of Bristol Theatre Collection)

Kate Fleetwood (Mary Catteermole) and Sophie Thompson (Mafalda Hopkirk)

Kate Fleetwood portrayed Mary Cattermole in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Kate also provided the voice of Mary Cattermole and an unnamed Witch in the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. 

She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Chichester Festival Theatre's Macbeth which transferred to the West End and Broadway.

In 2003, Kate played Helena in BOV's A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by then-Artistic Director David Farr.

You may also spot Olivier Award-winner Sophie Thompson (who played Mafalda Hopkirk) in the Potter pic above - She was also on stage here in the 1985 production In Times Like These and trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School too!

Julie Walters as Mrs Weasley | Julie Walters with Timothy Kightley in 1978’s The Changeling (Photo courtesy of University of Bristol Theatre Collection)

Dame Julie Walters as Mrs Weasley

Dame Julie Walters - before she became Mrs Weasley (and everyone's favourite Mum), managed to rack up an impressive four British Academy Television Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, two International Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Olivier Award.

But before becoming an official national treasure, she appeared here in the 1978 production of The Changeling.

A favourite BOV anecdote from Julie while she was here:

"There was a production of Macbeth on and it was a matinee performance. One actor playing Macbeth started the speech "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..." when a little old lady in the front row was heard to say "That'll be Wednesday".
The Rehearsal, 1961 (Photo courtesy of University of Bristol Theatre Collection) | As Prof McGonagall

Dame Maggie Smith played Professor McGonagall

Dame Maggie Smith is one of the UKs most recognised and prolific actors.

 If you haven't seen her as Professor Minerva McGonagall, chances are you'll have spotted her as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, in Downton Abbey. But it was on stage that she first proved her total dominance as a performer. We were very luck to have her here in 1961 in The Rehearsal.

She has received numerous accolades including two Academy Awards, five BAFTA Awards, four Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and a Tony Award as well as nominations for six Olivier Awards.

Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort | In 'The Duchess', 2008

Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort

Ralph Fiennes (yes - he who must not be named) may not have exactly performed on stage here, but he did film a theatre scene for the 2008 movie The Duchess in the auditorium (we said it was tenuous).

Nick Moran as Scabior | In Look Back in Anger at Bristol Old Vic (Photo by Graham Burke, courtesy of University of Bristol Theatre Collection)

Nick Moran appeared as Scabior in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2

English actor and filmmaker, Nick Moran first came to fame in the 1990s and is best known for his role as Eddie the card sharp in heist movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - the film that brought director Guy Ritchie international acclaim and introduced Jason Statham (a former diver) and Vinnie Jones (a former footballer) to worldwide audiences in their feature film debuts. 

Nick played the original 'angry young man', Jimmy Porter, in the Bristol Old Vic 2001 production of Look Back in Anger.

Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks | Nights at the Circus 2006

Natalia Tena portrayed Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films

You may have also seen her as the wildling Osha in the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011–2013; 2016). 

Tena made her professional debut as Ellie in About a Boy (2002), and began acting full-time in 2003. She has played lead roles in stage adaptations of Gone to Earth in 2004, and Nights at the Circus in 2006 (a Kneehigh theatre co-production with Bristol Old Vic and Lyric Hammersmith.)

Toby Jones played Dobby the House Elf

Olivier Award-winner Toby Jones is well-known for his extensive character actor roles on stage and screen - everything from Uncle Vanya to Marvel Villains, Detectorists and Truman Capote.
But portraying the voice of Dobby the House Elf on screen and Jesus in Bristol Old Vic's 2020 production of The Messiah - that's range.

Dobby the house elf | Toby Jones in The Messiah 2020, photo Jon Rowley)

Stephen Fry has been the voice of the Harry Potter audio books since the very beginning

In case you didn't spot it - he also voiced the University Challenge announcer for our latest musical Starter for Ten.

Stephen Fry

Kathryn Hunter played Arabella Figg in the Harry Potter films

In her stage work, Hunter is particularly associated with physical theatre, having been described as a "virtuoso physical performer". 

She has worked with renowned companies in that field including Shared Experience and Complicité. She won an Olivier Award in 1991 for playing the millionairess in Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Visit.

We saw her on BOVs stage in the 2023 Complicite co-production  Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, (photo Marc Brenner)

As Arabella Figg | Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (photo Marc Brenner)

A Child of Science runs at Bristol Old Vic from 5 Jun  Sat 6 Jul. Find out more