Harry Potter fan brings ‘Deathly Hallows’ to life with music
By Whitney Milam
HollywoodNews.com: Lena Gabrielle isn’t your average Harry Potter fan. The talented 21-year-old music theory and piano performance student has fronted the popular wizard rock band “The Butterbeer Experience” for three years, and this summer she’ll embark on her last tour across the country to Florida for the Harry Potter convention Infinitus, where she’ll premiere The Final Battle–a full-length musical adaptation of the last 200 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows directed and rehearsed entirely on the Internet. I chatted with Lena this weekend about the wizard rock phenomenon, the Harry Potter fandom at large, and her upcoming musical as she prepares to release her new CD and set off on tour tomorrow.
“The coolest thing about this is not that it’s a musical about Harry Potter, it’s that it’s a musical put together completely online,” says Lena, who has been directing twelve hours of online rehearsals a day since mid-May. The Final Battle is two and a half hours long, and features a fifty person cast, a fifteen piece orchestra, and a fifteen person stage crew, but none of them will be onstage together until they meet at Infinitus in July. “I know that I’m good at writing musicals and I really wanted to do something for the fandom because these are my best friends, basically, in the world…I just hope that it will keep people interested in Harry Potter and that even if people don’t like my interpretation, I hope that something in it strikes them. I hope that it impacts them in some way. No one’s ever done this before, so I don’t really know what it’s gonna be like at all.”
Well, one thing’s certain–with its source being arguably the most action-packed and tragic pages of the entire Harry Potter series, it’s going to be an intense experience for fans to see part of Deathly Hallows come to life almost a year before Warner Brothers releases the final installment of the film adaptations next July. “It’s very, very emotional,” Lena agrees, “and it’s very, very canon for the most part. I know that not everybody’s gonna like it, I guess–like, ‘oh, that’s not how I pictured it’–but I think overall it’s going to be beautiful.”
It’s also going to be the first of its kind: a fan-written non-spoofing musical adaptation of Harry Potter. Lena brushes aside possible fan comparisons to the wildly popular YouTube sensation “A Very Potter Musical” (released by University of Michigan-originating theatre group Team StarKid last year, with a sequel also premiering at Infinitus) saying, “It’s nothing alike. [That’s] a parody, mine’s not. If it’s funny, if people laugh, it’s because that’s where J.K. Rowling wanted them to laugh.” She does, however, see such fan-created works as being the future of the Harry Potter fandom. “As long as there are people like that to keep it going, it will keep going…I really appreciate that there’s still Infinitus, and LeakyCon next year, and people are still really excited about Harry Potter even though the books are over and the movies are almost over.”
In the meantime, Lena and other wizard rockers are doing their part to keep love of the Potterverse alive with songs about the books we all love–the wizard rock community, founded years ago by “Harry and Potters” and now consisting of hundreds of bands spanning every character and musical style (Lena recommends classics like “The Remus Lupins”, “Ministry of Magic”, and “The Mudbloods” for anyone new to the concept), is still thriving. Though Lena herself will be retiring “The Butterbeer Experience” after one final CD (to be released Monday on iTunes, and featuring nine sneak peek songs from The Final Battle‘s soundtrack) and tour this summer, her experiences with wizard rock (or ‘wrock’, as it’s sometimes called) and the friends she’s made through it will always have a special place in her heart. “There’s a very fine line between someone who’s in a band and someone who’s a quote-en-quote ‘fan’–and I really hate that word, I like to use the word ‘friend.’ I think everybody who listens to my music is my friend.”
The Final Battle will be performed live in Orlando, Florida on Friday, July 16 at 6pm EST, but those who can’t make it to Infinitus can watch its live broadcast on PotterTV or catch it on YouTube later in the year. You can listen to Lena singing a few of the songs from the musical herself on her own YouTube channel. For more information on “The Butterbeer Experience” and Lena’s tour this summer, check out her official site and Facebook page.