More in store for Potterheads

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is still wowing them on Broadway, with 100,000 newly released tickets for performances through June 9. And now the New York Historical Society presents the exhibit Harry Potter: A History of Magic, which debuted in London and opened in New York Oct. 5 (through Jan. 27).

On display are rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the collections of the historical society and the British Library, along with material from Harry Potter publisher Scholastic and from J.K. Rowling's own archives. Highlights include Mary GrandPré's illustrations for Scholastic's original editions — on display to the public for the first time — plus costumes and set models from Cursed Child.

Affiliated events include book group meetings, magic-themed workshops and talks, and owl walks in Central Park. Family Halloween activities are planned for Oct. 28. Details are at harrypotter.nyhistory.org.

And for fans of the show's music, Imogen Heap's album The Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: In Four Contemporary Suites will be released Nov. 2. The album assembles music from each of the four acts of the play into four suites.

And speaking of books …

For a hundred years, the Drama Book Shop (40th Street near Eighth Avenue) has, heroically, provided the theater community with books and scripts. The shop's signs are hand-written. The chairs are beat-up (two scavenged from a demolished Philadelphia theater). People visit from all over the world.

If you go in with a project, as I sometimes have ("I'm looking for plays about …" ), any of the salespeople — mostly young actors and directors — can almost always supply you with a list. If they can't, the store's soft-spoken manager, Marcus Colleran, can.

"People love theater," he says with an elegant British accent, "and there are so many acting schools around here, so you try to be as enthusiastic as they are."

Upstairs is the children's theater company Story Pirates. Downstairs is a 50-seat theater that hosts speakers (I just missed Bernhardt/Hamlet playwright Theresa Rebeck) and that occasionally becomes a rehearsal space, as it was for Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights back when he was an unknown.

Curtains rising

There are a bunch of fall openings, of course:

  • Opening in two weeks is the musical comedy The Prom (performances begin Oct.23), about a small town in Indiana where a girl is forbidden to take her girlfriend as her date to the prom — and then Broadway stars come to the rescue. Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon) directs.
  • For Cher fans, and you are legion, there's The Cher Show, a jukebox musical with three actors playing the star at various stages of her career. Performances begin Nov. 1. Preproduction photos are uncanny in their resemblance.
  • For Cuba Gooding Jr. fans: he's back — as Billy Flynn in Chicago. His Broadway run at the Ambassador Theatre started Oct. 6 and continues through Nov 18.
  • Also highly anticipated is the stage adaptation by Aaron Sorkin of Harper Lee's beloved 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Jeff Daniels heads the cast as Atticus Finch. Performances start Nov. 1.

Overnight sensation

The "time-limited theater" group 24 Hour Plays brings its 24 Hour Musicals to Broadway Oct. 29 at American Airlines Theatre in Times Square.

Here's how it works: A group of composers and writers meets at 9 p.m. on Oct. 28 with actors, choreographers, and musicians. The performers — big names for this benefit performance include Savion Glover, John Mulaney, Bebe Neuwirth, and Molly Ringwald  — reveal something they've always wanted to do on stage, or some hidden talent.

At 11 p.m., the composers and writers get to work. Overnight, they'll create a collection of mini-musicals running 15 to 20 minutes apiece. At 9 a.m., they'll meet with the performers, who then have one day to rehearse the 8 p.m. show.

Various iterations of the 24 Hour creative madness have been going on for 10 years. This show celebrates women in musical theater and benefits the Lilly Awards Foundation.

Show tunes for a cause

The annual ACLU Broadway Stands Up for Freedom concert, an evening of Broadway tunes (and some new songs), will be held Oct. 15 at Town Hall (123 W. 43rd St.). George Salazar (Be More Chill), Kristolyn Lloyd (Evan Hansen original cast), and Caesar Samayoa (Come from Away) are among the performers. Aasif Mandvi hosts. Alan Cumming will be presented the 2018 Freedom Award for his contributions as an artist and activist for human rights. Tickets are $62.

Broadway lingo (more to come)

Like many communities, the theater world has its own language. For example: an "11 o'clock number" is a show-stopping production number late in the second act in which the main character comes to a big realization — and we all weep, clap, and go nuts with musical comedy joy.

Consider, for example, "Rose's Turn" in Gypsy and "Cabaret" in Cabaret.  It's called an 11 o'clock number because shows used to start later than they do now, at 8:30 or 8:45 p.m., putting that blockbuster song at about 11 p.m.