By Estelle Shirbon
LONDON (Reuters) - A new play that opens in London next summer will pick up the story of Harry Potter where the seventh and final volume of J.K. Rowling's saga left off, with a plot involving a grown-up Harry and the youngest of his three children, Albus.
"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", based on a new story part-written by Rowling, opens at the Palace Theatre in London's West End district on July 30, 2016, publicists for the production said on Friday.
The story takes place 19 years after Harry's final showdown with the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, described in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", the seventh book.
Now an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic with three school-age children, Harry "grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs", a statement about the new play said.
Meanwhile, Albus, named after Harry's old headmaster and mentor Albus Dumbledore, struggles with the weight of the family legacy.
"As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places," the publicists said.
The play will be in two parts which are intended to be seen in order on the same day, or on two consecutive evenings. An initial 16 weeks of performances will go on sale in the first booking period, which starts on Oct. 30.
Publicists have been releasing a drip-drip of information over several months in what appears to be a strategy to tantalise fans, although commercial success for the venture looks extremely likely regardless of any marketing efforts.
So far everything connected to Harry Potter has turned to gold. Rowling's books have sold over 450 million copies and been translated into 78 languages, while the eight-part film franchise based on the books grossed more than $7 billion at the worldwide box office.
The new story was a collaboration between Rowling, scriptwriter Jack Thorne and theatre director John Tiffany, who has won awards in London and New York for his work on the musical "Once".
"The story only exists because the right group of people came together with a brilliant idea about how to present Harry Potter on stage," Rowling was quoted as saying.
"I'm confident that when audiences see 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' they will understand why we chose to tell the story in this way."
Responding to a tweet about the artwork for the new production, Rowling said on her Twitter account: "And I love it!" The artwork shows what appears to be a child in a bird's nest with wings, on a bright yellow background possibly evoking fire.
Both parts of the play will be performed on the opening day, July 30. Reduced price previews will start on June 7.
Tickets go on sale online at 1100 GMT on Oct. 28 for those who registered for priority booking on the official website, HarryPotterthePlay.com. Tickets then go on sale to the general public on Oct. 30 at 1100 GMT.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)