SAN FRANCISCOHarry Potter and the Cursed Child began its open-ended run at the Curran Theater Sunday afternoon, and if the gasps and shrieks and thunderous applause emanating from the audience were any indication, the producers have a serious hit on their hands.

The critics seem to agree on that point.

Karen D'Souza of the Bay Area News Group summed things up succinctly: "If you grew up with these books or know children who did, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will surely cast its spell on you​​​​."

"The staging is magnificent, thrilling, and literally gasp-inducing," said Patrick Thomas from Talkin' Broadway.

"It's hard to overstate how jaw-dropping some of the special effects are in the show, none of which feel wedged in or unnecessary," exalted SFist's Jay Barmann, "and it's no wonder that the play took home six Tony Awards including Best Play last year."

The play is set 19 years after the last Harry Potter book and at first, it seems, the magic is gone: Harry is 37, married, overworked, and the father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with the trappings of adulthood, his youngest son, Albus, wrestles with his father's celebrity and a family legacy he wants nothing to do with. 

As the five-plus hour narrative unfolds over two parts, a steady stream of familiar characters appear on stage, the past relentlessly encroaches on the present, and through it all audiences are presented with the sort of thrills and spills that would feel right at home at Universal Studios Hollywood. State-of-the-art stagecraft, it turns out, provides an ideal backdrop for J.K. Rowling's wizard-filled world.

San Francisco Chronicle theater critic Lily Janiak marveled at the pyrotechnics in the production, noting that fire "spits in balls. It rockets into jet stream, dwarfing its source as a comet’s tail overshadows its head. It ignites a cup of tea. It shoots from a bed frame. Actors burst through it as if popping out of a playground chute."

Indeed, the 39 actors in the cast are in a constant state of motion throughout the marathon, climbing, flying, flipping, floating, and shifting shapes right in front of the audience.

"The acting in Cursed Child is uniformly stellar," wrote Linda Hodges of Broadway World San Francisco. "Special accolades must go to Benjamin Papac (Albus) and Jon Steiger (Scorpius) who command the stage for most of the five hours of the show. Yanna McIntosh (Hermione Granger-Weasley), David Abeles (Ron Weasley), Angela Reed (Ginny), and of course John Skelley as Harry Potter had a synergy that honored the decades of friendship and love that their characters share."

Tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are currently on sale through June 20, 2020, at HarryPotterOnStage.com and in-person at the Curran Theater box office. Additional tickets will be released on Dec. 6 for performances through July 12, 2020.