Jon Stieger (center) plays Scorpius Malfoy alongside Benjamin Papac’s (right) Albus Potter. The San Francisco production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. (Courtesy of Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made)
Jon Stieger (center) plays Scorpius Malfoy alongside Benjamin Papac’s (right) Albus Potter. The San Francisco production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. (Courtesy of Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made)

Gator Talk: Harry Potter and the actor that climbed up the ladder

April 18, 2022

Welcome to Gator Talk, a collaborative CalState podcast that brings city and statewide perspectives to SF State news.

City Editor Anaïs-Ophelia Lino spoke to San Francisco’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” actor Jon Stieger about ushering and how to work your way up the workplace in a stage production.

Check out the story here at Gator Talk.

Intro   

Myron: Happy Monday, Gators! This is Myron Caringal, diversity editor for Golden Gate Xpress and today’s host. Welcome to Gator Talk, the podcast where we often miss production deadlines. With me today is Anaïs Lino, city editor for Xpress and today’s guest.

Anaïs: Hey hey, Gators! Anaïs-Ophelia Lino here. Did you miss me?

Myron: For more information and coverage, check out goldengatexpress.org OR @GGXnews on all social media platforms.

Preview of the show

Myron: For today’s main story, we follow Anaïs as she moves onto happier trails before graduating SF State. She sat down with Jon Steiger, former Usher of the Lyric Theatre in New York, to talk about the post“playbill” life.

So let’s get into it.


Main Story 

Myron: So Anaïs, welcome back to Gator Talk. When was the last time you were on here?

Anaïs: Thank you. Last time I was on here was last semester when I spoke about LGBTQ themes in the horror genre.

Myron: Oh wow. And how’s this semester been for you?

Anaïs: Bittersweet. Well, good and bittersweet.

Myron: Bittersweet? Aren’t you excited to graduate?

Anaïs: Well Myron, as I’m preparing to graduate and move on, I’ve been making the rounds and saying goodbye to old friends, professors and old jobs I held.

Myron: Where have you worked?

Anaïs: Yea, I’ve worked at quite a few places around San Francisco.

I remember my very first job was working at a Christmas souvenir shop on Fisherman’s wharf.

*Sound of a Jingle Bell*

I even worked at the old Pacsun in Westfield.

*Cash Register Ding*

And I was also an Usher at the Curran on Geary; you know, that super famous theater right by Union Square. I actually even spoke to a former usher about possible job opportunities.

*Sound of a Curtain being drawn*

Myron: Possible job opportunities? Aren’t you interning for KQED? What other job are you looking for?

Anaïs: Oh, well, like acting.

Myron: Wow, you’re really enforcing the theater-kid to journalist pipeline stereotype.

Anaïs: Hey!

Myron: I used to be an extra in a play, so I can’t say much. But the former usher, what does he do now?

Anaïs: He’s actually a lead actor in the play I was working on; Jon Stieger of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

*Start “Wizard-Like” upbeat chimes*

Myron: I loved the Harry Potter movies and I even used to play Lego Harry Potter when I was younger, but I don’t really know about the Cursed Child. I keep seeing posters for it on Muni buses. What’s it about?

Anaïs: The Cursed Child takes place right where the epilogue left off, or 20 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. In the live-action play, Harry Potter’s son and his best friend Scorpius embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Myron: So how did Jon go from being an usher to a lead actor? What’s his origin story?

*End “Wizard-Like” music*

Anaïs: It’s funny you say that because he actually had something similar to say.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: This actor thing of kind of calling actors more like superheroes or not so much superheroes, but more everyone else as civilians outside of the theater world. And this is of course, filling our heads up with more hot air…  But I loved the idea she was painting that actors are different from other people. I think to an extent that’s true.You have to have a really warped mind to do this. You know, I play a 14-year-old blond wizard.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: A 14-year-old wizard?

Anaïs: In the play, Jon plays Scorpius Malfoy, the one and only son of Draco Malfoy.

Myron: A Malfoy, huh? He must have that signature blond hair.

Anaïs: Yes, he’s uber blond. I even asked him if blonds have more fun.

[interview audio begins]

Jon:  In my opinion, yes as someone who plays a blond wizard, I can definitely tell you his life’s a little more exciting than my, my dark haired average Joe day, if you will.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: That’s cool and all, but it doesn’t explain how he ended up on stage.

Anaïs: Well, he actually found out during the job. Something I forgot to mention is that occasionally we’ll stuff the programs with papers talking about actor changes– they’re called Playbills.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: I’m sure you’re familiar with the theater magazine Playbill. We had at the time. I remember they were like, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is coming to New York. And I was like, Cool, awesome. Like, I was a huge, huge Harry Potter fan when I was a kid.

[interview audio ends]

Anaïs: He ushered at two shows: Head Over Heels, which debuted at the same theater Cursed Child is at now and the Lyric Theater, the NYC home of the “Cursed Child.”

Myron: Wow, that’s like a full-circle moment. What was it like working as an usher for him?

[interview audio begins]

Jon:  When I was an usher, we wanted more of the world and so when we got shortened to the cut version of like our we’re getting less and it’s unfortunate it really is because it’s a great world.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: So, did he audition the first time?

Anaïs: The first few days were Equity Principal Auditions, where hundreds of actors go to audition, but Jon didn’t.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: I don’t think I’ll go because the only person I could play is Albus because Scorpius is a blond. Of course, I found out later that Anthony Boyle has hair almost as dark as mine. So imagine the egg on my face when I’ve remembered that wigs existed.

[interview audio ends]

Anaïs: They ended up going with the original leads and Jon felt almost relieved.

Myron: And what did Jon do in the meantime?

Anaïs: He got to do a few regional tours and returned to New York after.

Jon: When I got back, the theater that I was ushering at, the Hudson Theater which is like my home, was dark for three months.

Anaïs: Which left him to find another Ushering gig, at the one and only Lyric Theater, playing “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” at the time.

Jon: Let me just jump in because I need the money. So I got it. And the first show that I ushered was actually part two, the dress rehearsal… AND part two starts, as it does. And you’re immediately like, what am I about to experience?  And Scorpius comes out. Call it Anthony Boyle’s performance, Call it my own curiosity but as soon as he started, I was like “That! I want to do that!”

Myron: Is it really that good?

Anaïs: As someone who’s seen the show… extensively, it really is a trip. No spoilers though!

 

— Myron: We’re going to take a quick break —

*Start Up-beat music*

*Break

Support the Golden Gate Xpress’ work by signing up for our online newsletter, following us on Instagram AND Twitter @GGXnews and visiting the website: https://goldengatexpress.org

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By the way, our sibling publication, Xpress Magazine, released its third issue of the semester earlier this week. Go check out their content at XpressMagazine.org

*Break ends

  

Myron: And, we’re back. So Anaïs, did he feel he was right for the role?

Anaïs: Yes, that’s exactly it! He had to figure out if he was just tall enough for the role.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: Anthony Boyle and Sam Clemment, who played Scorpius and Albus respectively, were standing by a bar. I said to my friends, I was like “I’m gonna go walk over there, Imma stand next to them. Let me know if I’m the same height,” because I was like, they’re probably gonna look for similar body types. So I walked over, stood there for a second and walked away. And they of course, were laughing uncontrollably, but they were like “yeah.”

[interview audio ends]

Myron: That’s funny.

Anaïs: Having confirmed that he’s “fit” for the role if you will, the next phase is nailing the audition.

*Begin mischievous wind chime music*

[interview audio begins]

Jon: I was like, Okay, you need to do literally everything physically possible to set yourself up so that you get it.

[interview audio ends]

Anaïs: And he did everything. He asked supervisors to watch audition scenes during his shifts, watched what the actors were doing practically every day, and assembled a team of coaches during the audition period.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: It was seven auditions over the course of two months, I think. Because I wanted no stone to be left unturned.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: Seven auditions in two months? Now, that’s dedication.

Anaïs: It was a really stressful time, he said.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: But they just kept calling me back. And the reason I did all that stuff I was like, because if I don’t get it, it’s not because I didn’t work my butt off.

[interview audio ends]

Anaïs: But finally, he gets a call time at a hotel. That happens to be hosting a Lumos benefit, J.K. Rowling’s charity. So he becomes infused with anxiety, but he enters the room and no Rowling in sight.

Myron: Well, guess he got J.K’d

Anaïs: Haha, very funny.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: It was a different kind of terrified because when I got there, there was like 20 people in the room. The head producers and directors everything. I mean, it was really, really intense, but it was really exciting.

[interview audio ends]

Anaïs: So how did it go Jon?

[interview audio begins]

Jon:  It went really, really well. And I walked away and my body immediately crashed.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: Well at least he didn’t have anything to do.

Anaïs: Well, that’s not exactly true. He actually had a shift that same day.

Jon: They could have filmed the entire thing I probably wouldn’t have noticed. I don’t work there anymore now, so it’s fine.

*Phone rings*

And my phone rang.

And I couldn’t get too in time. And they left a message.

Myron: And?

Anais: It was John Tiffany, the head director of Potter.

Jon: Hey, John, you know, John Tiffany from Harry Potter. I was like, I know who you are. You don’t need to clarify. 

Anaïs: He’s asked to return the call at his earliest convenience, so he calls back almost immediately.

*Dial Tone sound plays*

But his call goes to voicemail.

[interview audio begins]

Jon: this is the most stressful game of phone tennis I’ve ever played in my life

[interview audio ends]

Anaïs: But the head director of the show he’s ushering for later that night asks to call him back.

Jon: I run to the basement. But you don’t get full service in the basement. So I was standing in the stairwell of the basement of the Hudson, during a show that I was supposed to be working, talking to John Tiffany. And he’s like, hey, you know, it was so great to see you today. So amazingly, it was great to work with you. And my stomach kind of dropped. Because at first I was like, is this like one of those horrible courtesy calls.

Myron: Did he get it?

Anaïs: He doesn’t the gig as the year two replacement for Harry Potter New York, but… he gets something else.

Jon: As you know, it’s gonna have a West Coast debut in San Francisco. Would you like to be Scorpios Malfoy in San Francisco. And I remember very distinctly, it’s one of those moments that like you never really forget. And I just remember going. I would like that very much. 

Myron: So how does Jon’s Harry Potter origin story end? 

Anaïs: So

Jon: I hung up, and I grabbed my best friend and I immediately did what I wasn’t supposed to do. And I told her and we like, hug in the basement of the Hudson crying. And we let go the hug and this woman,there’s a random woman comes out of the bathroom looks at us, like we’re crazy and walks up the stairs

*Sound of a person going up wooden stairs*

But it was, it was crazy.

Myron: I can’t imagine what that must’ve felt like. I think I’ll have to watch the play now.

 

News brief

Myron: Here’s some other things that are going on in the city:

On Monday, SF State President Lynn Mahoney accepted the recommendation to expand the Gator Transit Pass program to include universal SamTrans access to students with no fee increase. The expansion will be implemented in the fall.

It’s Easter this Sunday. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a charity and drag performance organization, will be hosting a Hunky Jesus Concert at Dolores Park on the 17th.

And remember Gators, It’s Fix It! Week. There will be early Muni closures until the 24th. Most of the underground rails will stop running at 9:30 p.m. but Muni’s late-night transit service, OWL, continues normally.

Myron: And that’s all I got! This is Myron Caringal, Diversity Editor.

Anaïs: And Anaïs-Ophelia Lino, City Editor for Xpress.

Myron: New episodes will premiere every other Friday until the end of the semester, so stay tuned. And with that, I’m out!

*End 

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About the Contributors
Photo of Anaïs-Ophelia Lino
Anaïs-Ophelia Lino, City Editor

Anaïs-Ophelia Lino serves as city editor and this is her third semester on Xpress. She is a senior at SF State and in her final semester. She feels bittersweet...

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