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Bringing the kids to 'Harry Potter' at Shea's? 5 things to know

Not since the Quidditch World Cup has a crowd of witches, wizards and muggles been as raucous as the group watching 2001’s “Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone” at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre on Feb. 21. And if the opening night crowd for this screening — which featured accompaniment from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — is any indication, the performances on Feb. 22 and 24 should be just as joyful.

While the audience for the first showing/performance was a mixture of adults and children, parents bringing little ones may want to keep a few things in mind. Here are five things to know:

Don’t worry about kids making noise. Before the performance began at 7:30 p.m., the audience was given the OK to “let loose a little bit,” and let loose it did. Cheers erupted at the appearance of every principal character — even Draco Malfoy — and boos filled Shea’s when Harry was nearly bumped off of his Nimbus 2000.

Food is allowed in the seating areas. Popcorn, hot pretzels and oodles of candy — even Bertie Botts Beans — were available for purchase. However, alcoholic beverages were not allowed outside of the lobby. (Boo!) And I want to extend a belated apology to Shea's staff for the spilled popcorn on the floor from me, my son, and my niece ...

There is lots of merchandise for sale, so be prepared. The packed merch stall featured scarves, shirts, wands and programs. We opted for a $20 program, which seemed like a neat (if unsurprisingly overpriced) keepsake. My advice? If you have a Gryffindor scarf at home, bring it with you.

Subtitles are onscreen. This is helpful for adults and older kids, but could be annoying for the littlest viewers. If they do complain, remind them to keep watching the BPO in action. Seeing these talented musicians onstage and performing John Williams’s iconic score is a tremendous treat.

It’s a long movie. You already knew that, I’m sure, from home viewing. But watching the 152-minute J.K. Rowling adaptation in a theater setting is quite different. The opening night screening did not end until well after 10 p.m. My Potter-loving 8-year-old nearly fell asleep. Therefore, the smartest ticket holders might be those attending the 2 p.m. screening on Feb. 24.   

The BPO accompanies “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre. Visit sheas.org for ticket info.

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