The Potterverse Strikes Back: Boise Harry Potter Fans Gear Up for Fantastic Beasts 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald stars Eddie Redmayne (left) as Newt Scamander.

Courtesy Warner Bros

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald stars Eddie Redmayne (left) as Newt Scamander.

Bring up the far-reaching impact of the Harry Potter series with a fan or someone in the book or movie business, and it's almost inevitable that their next sentence will reference Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings or a combination of the three. What it usually won't contain is a description of someone in drag at a local bar, playing Hogwarts Headmaster Dumbledore for a packed house—that is, unless the someone you're asking is burlesque performer Mimi MaShuga, and that bar is Boise's own Pengilly's Saloon.

"Dumbledore was actually played by a female, and she was telling the [audience], 'Class, I told you to calm down, you're not quite ready yet to hear about this next performer from this [Hogwarts] house," said MaShuga. The company she co-founded, Make 'em Blush Burlesque, performed Burlesque at Hogwarts to a rolicking crowd Nov. 11, putting on skits that involved Harry Potter characters like Sirius Black and Ginny Weasley (or as she was dubbed for the night, "Ginny Sleezy") and plenty of audience participation.

"We always include a game, and for this game we decided that we were going to include one representative from each of the houses, and they had to have a booty shake-off ... It was really fantastic," said MaShuga.

In the lead-up to the release of the newest movie in the Harry Potter universe—volume two in the 1920s spinoff Fantastic Beasts series, dubbed The Crimes of Grindelwald and starring Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp and Jude Lawon Friday, Nov. 16, events for Potterheads have been popping up all over Boise. And as the Make 'em Burlesque show proves, they run the gamut from the adult to the perhaps more expected kid-friendly. On Nov. 10, for example, the Meridian Public Library hosted a Fantastic Beasts party that invited kids and teens to dress in costume, go on a scavenger hunt and meet "local fantastic beasts." Just about the only similarity between the two events, apart from the Harry Potter connection, was the costumes, which MaShuga said adults in the audience donned for the burlesque, too. She credited that enthusiasm for making the show so popular.

"The whole Potterverse—the universe, if you will, of Harry Potter—is so popular and so loved by so many different people. Harry Potter fans are very similar to Star Wars fans in that they're very loyal, and they're very informed. It's so much fun to take something that you might associate with a childlike behavior or a childlike influence, and flip it to make it a little bit more adult," she said.

click to enlarge COURTESY RE-POP GIFTS
  • Courtesy Re-POP Gifts

Burlesque at Hogwarts wasn't timed to coincide with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald—that was what MaShuga called "a very happy coincidence"—but local pop-culture shop Re-POP Gifts will celebrate the release date with free photo opportunities in its homemade Harry Potter installation and plenty of fandom merchandise.

"We will be doing the complimentary green screen photos in front of our Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, and we'll be able to put people right next to our Hogwarts Express train in those photos," said Re-POP Owner Millie Hilgert. As for the age range of the merchandise, it runs from toddler t-shirts and plushies to Harry Potter-themed lamps and housewares for adults.

"Harry Potter, the thing about it is that it does really appeal to all ages," Hilgert said. "We've had people who grew up with the books who are now introducing it to their children, and we've had even people who are older than that."

Bruce DeLaney, the co-owner of Rediscovered Books and a huge Harry Potter fan himself, echoed that same thought, contrasting the Potter craze with boom-and-bust best sellers like the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey series.

"Once Harry Potter really started taking off around the second book, it just stayed strong," he said. "It's one of those story arcs, one of those book series that older siblings would tell their younger siblings, 'You need to read this,' parents and children would read together, and it's been out for long enough we're really starting to see a generational [readership]."

click to enlarge LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson

In addition to multiple editions of the Harry Potter series (it's been re-released with different covers over the years), Rediscovered sells copies of Rowling's original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book, which came out in 2001, long before its namesake movies hit theaters.

"Fantastic Beasts is one of the books the kids in the Harry Potter books get as a textbook," DeLaney said, "... I just think the [new] movies are delightful. I love having the ability to experience something new in the Harry Potter universe, because I'm never going to read those Harry Potter books again for the first time. And that's really the most magical time."

Though the film will be released on Friday, Nov. 16, Regal Cinemas will screen it as early as 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 (we suspect time-turners may be involved). For the full experience, catch a screening in IMAX 3D—and don't forget your dress robes.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Rated PG-13 · 134 minutes · 2018
Official Site: www.fantasticbeasts.com
Director: David Yates
Producer: David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, Lionel Wigram, Tim Lewis, Neil Blair, Rick Senat and Danny Cohen
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Brontis Jodorowsky, Carmen Ejogo, Ólafur Ólafsson, David Sakurai, Wolf Roth, Victoria Yeates and Derek Riddell
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 3D
Rated PG-13 · 134 minutes · 2018
Official Site: www.fantasticbeasts.com
Director: David Yates
Producer: David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, Lionel Wigram, Tim Lewis, Neil Blair, Rick Senat and Danny Cohen
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Brontis Jodorowsky, Carmen Ejogo, Ólafur Ólafsson, David Sakurai, Wolf Roth, Victoria Yeates and Derek Riddell
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- The IMAX 2D Experience
Rated PG-13 · 134 minutes · 2018
Official Site: www.fantasticbeasts.com
Director: David Yates
Producer: David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, Lionel Wigram, Tim Lewis, Neil Blair, Rick Senat and Danny Cohen
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Brontis Jodorowsky, Carmen Ejogo, Ólafur Ólafsson, David Sakurai, Wolf Roth, Victoria Yeates and Derek Riddell
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