Get your 'wizard on' — adults only, please
Most of the time, if you want to enjoy a wizard- and magic-themed event, you go to a Harry Potter reading at a bookstore with costumed kids and pretend you're at Hogwarts. But that is not the case with Wizard U., a new, adults-only event coming to Mr. Smalls Theatre.
At the event, which runs for six hours, visitors can alternate between an ongoing stage show with magicians, comedians and other entertainers, and hands-on classes in magic, spell casting and potion brewing. And speaking of potions, the 21-and-older event — which mostly draws people in their 20s and 30s — features plenty of cocktails available for purchase.
“Most things like this are for kids,” says Hayley Milliman, Wizard U.'s co-founder.
“It's really unique. … That's one of the reasons that it's so fun for people to attend,” says Milliman, who is based in Memphis. “Our whole shtick is that we're Wizard University, and we're a magic class for adults.”
No worries: The event is all in good fantasy fun, and nobody is teaching real witchcraft or black magic, she says.
“It's all very tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted,” Milliman says. “We're from the age of kids where people grew up reading about going to the magic school. … Now that we're all grown up, this is a good way to get together with people who are fans of the books and movies.”
Go ahead and wear a wizard costume, or some other fantastical outfit: Many of the other participants, and all staff members, will be costumed in things like wizard hats and robes and witch outfits, she says.
“With the rise of Comic-Con … there are plenty of adults who love this stuff,” Milliman says. “We want a place to kind of celebrate that without kids around. We're trying to bring that magic to people.
“I think sometimes it's fun to hang out with your friends and drink a beer in a wizard robe … and leave the kids at home,” Milliman says. “We want it to be funny for adults — it's really poking fun at these things we love.”
The stage show runs for the entire event, but is broken up into shorter segments, like 45-minute comedy skits and other entertainers around the country, including musicians. People can come in and out of the show while rotating among hands-on activities, Milliman says.
Although the producers have done similar productions for the past three years, the official Wizard U. is a brand-new show touring in nine cities this year. The Pittsburgh-area show is the second stop on the tour, which launches in Cleveland. Milliman hopes to do additional American tours in 2018.
Feedback from visitors to similar, wizard-esque events has been very positive, she says.
“We've had people who have come up to us at previous events and said, ‘Thank you for not having kids here, and giving me a day to celebrate my nerdy side and have a day with friends,' ” Milliman says.
Kellie B. Gormly is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.