Steven Hoggett. Photo Credit: Theatre Mania.
“We’re not relying on big technological wizardry,” Steven Hoggett, the choreographer hired to set the movement for Broadway’s Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One And Two ironically mused.
Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, a two-part play that’s spurred its second incarnation— this time on Broadway— as a monstrously successful run on London’s West End continues, has earned Hoggett a rare TONY® nomination for Best Choreography, usually designated for Broadway’s musicals.
Most dance and theatre fans in the US know Steven Hoggett for his choreography of Green Day’s musical, American Idiot, and the stage adaptations of the epic sports film franchise Rocky and the simple yet lush, balladry motivated Once. With the recent blockbuster triumph of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child illuminating his star to new heights, however, Hoggett’s name is now prime to become more of the household variety.
Hoggett is not only represented on Broadway this season with the Harry Potter series, but also with the star-studded revival of another two-part play, Tony Kushner’s epic Angels In America.
Hoggett’s early beginnings started in Huddersfield, England. After studying literature at Swansea University, Hoggett used his love for dance and story telling to create the Wales based physical movement theatre company, Frantic Assembly.
In 2006, Hoggett teamed up with long time friend John Tiffany— director of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child— on the Olivier® winning play, Black Watch; the piece that first put Hoggett's stock on the rise.
With Hoggett’s success designing Black Watch’s pedestrian and organic movement, TONY® award winning director, Michael Mayer, approached the choreographer about creating the brash and rough edged American Idiot that, at the time, was aiming for Broadway.
“I think one of the greatest parts of [Steven] Hoggett’s choreography in that show was the use of gestural phrases,” Broadway dancer and American Idiot original cast member Mikey Winslow told Dance Network. “It gave the performers, many of whom were coming from a singing background, a great way to communicate through the physical body. I found that the raw energy that came with that music and that story, when channeled into precise, specific, and often self-developed gestures, created a very visceral experience in storytelling.”
When it came to building the movement for the folksy musical Once— where the actors were tasked with accompanying themselves on musical instruments they played— Hoggett was again teamed up with his friend John Tiffany. For Hoggett, this unconventionally styled piece seemed to lead him back to his instincts of choreographing specific, plot forwarding staging— and it earned him his first TONY® nomination, in the 2012 Best Choreography category.
"Push the story forward…that is what I am about,” Hoggett said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I can't play a mandolin. I can't play a violin… I just communicated as if I knew what the fingering technique was and said, 'This is how you might move your body at the same time,' as if I'd done it 100 times before. And they fell for it. They amazed me — putting musicians on stage is nothing new, but you realize we don't push them to put it all together."
In 2014, the musical version of Sylvester Stallone’s famous film series Rocky was making an aim for Broadway after a lucrative try-out run in Germany. The project paired Hoggett with TONY® nominated choreographer Kelly Devine, known for her work creating Rock Of Ages, Dr. Zhivago, Come From Away, and this season’s Escape To Margaritaville.
With all the success Hoggett has seen choreographing musical theatre, the accomplishment’s he’s achieved building movement for plays is even more remarkable.
As previously mentioned, in this season alone, Hoggett has choreographed movement for not just Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One And Two, but also the critically acclaimed Angels In America. In 2015, Hoggett was also nominated for a TONY® for his work building the movement to the transformative play, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time.
With Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One and Two, however, the response from critics and audiences in both London and New York have been staggering and beyond impressive. And, even with all of the brilliant success of the iconic series may have spawned in the form of profit turning films, merchandise, and theme parks, it can’t be stated enough how this company of performers is putting in the work to help create the play’s individual success.
Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine at the 2014 TONY® Awards. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
“The company are hands on, there’s things out there that they’ll never be given credit for, and it requires tons of energy and tons of focus, and lots of stamina,” Hoggett said of The Cursed Child company of actors.
For his work on The Cursed Child, Hoggett will be awarded with the inaugural Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics' Choice Award at the 2018 Chita Rivera Awards
"Hoggett will be honored for the poetry and punch of the movement passages in these plays, which he helped transform into enchantingly provocative physical theater," a press release from The Chita Rivera Awards stated.
The 2018 TONY® awards will be presented June 10th LIVE from Radio City Music Hall. Dance Network’s coverage of the TONY’s® and choreographer profiles continues each week leading up to the telecast, so keep checking back for the latest.