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Harry Potter Belfast star Boyle casting spell in Cursed Child on West End

By Allan Preston

A Belfast actor has enchanted West End critics with his show-stealing turn in the new Harry Potter play.

Anthony Boyle (22), from Poleglass in the west of the city, won his big break this year when it was announced he had secured the role of Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco Malfoy, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Since the debut of the hotly anticipated production earlier this month, critics have raved about his performance.

The Evening Standard newspaper said the play should be renamed "Harry Potter and the Stolen Show" in his honour.

Theatre critic Henry Hitchings singled out the young star as having "the most layered and absorbing" of all the performances.

WhatsOnStage reviewer Sarah Compton called his turn "career-making", and the Independent newspaper's Jack Shepard wrote: "Yes, a Malfoy really is the highlight of this play."

Even Harry Potter author JK Rowling gave her seal of approval and said that Scorpius would "do nothing to turn girls off the Malfoy men". "I love Draco and Scorpius - they actually look related," she added.

Anthony, a recent graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, lowed Hollywood star Liam Neeson by cutting his teeth at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast in plays including Simon Stephen's Herons, and East Belfast boy, which he co-wrote.

Philip Crawford, the Lyric's head of creative learning, was delighted for the star.

"I saw him for his very first audition here for our actor training programme when he was still in school - he just had something really special there," he said.

"People talk about that raw talent that hasn't been polished, and you could see it was self-evident with him from the word go. He was very exciting to watch."

"I'm thrilled at the success that he has, but I'm also not surprised in a way. I just feel it's deserved and it's lovely to see he's putting all that he's learnt to good use within a big commercial project like that."

Mr Crawford added Anthony had already been inspiring new actors. "He's very talented and modest about," he explained. "He was here at Christmas and came down to have lunch. I had two students from Ballymena Academy down and Anthony just said, 'Do you want me to do a workshop with them?' He spent two hours with them imparting all he knew about Shakespeare and all the rest of it."

Young actors hoping to follow in Anthony's footsteps can sign up to the Lyric's drama programme until August 8.

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