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Puffs, or: Seven increasingly eventful years at a certain School of Magic And Magic

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Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School Of Magic And Magic is an original play written by New York based playwright Matt Cox.[1] It is based on the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling written in the 1990's, following the adventures of a wizard boy named Harry Potter, his friends, and life at their magic school, Hogwarts. Only in this story, Harry is but merely a side character. This story focuses around the Puffs, a group of students who were there too but were only seen as the dumb, unwanted students but can use their few strengths (working hard, being loyal, etc) to help in times of need.

Puffs
Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School Of Magic And Magic
BookMatt Cox
BasisHarry Potter
by J. K. Rowling
PremiereJuly 2, 2015: The PIT: New York City, New York
Productions2015 Off-Off Broadway
2016 Off-Broadway
2019 Sydney, Australia

Background[edit | edit source]

Cox told SyFy Wire that he was currently working on another show he had written and worked on with McCarthy called "Kapow - i GoGo", a play split into three parts that ran about 4.5 hours when put together about different nerdy cartoons, franchises, and "sci-fi stuff" (Cox's words). He tells reporter, Lisa Granshaw, that he came up with the idea for Puffs on a subway ride one night home. He thought to himself "it would've been really terrible to be another student at that particular magic school whenever Harry was there." The whole ride home, he thought about that idea and how every year something bad would happen all because of Potter. He then began to piece together some other ideas from 90's pop-culture references and funny movie flaws that could be an entertaining play. As he began to think about it more, he thought about how easy it would be to sell to "anyone who has never been destined to save the world" (words from the BroadwayHD description of the show).

"Soon after," he says, "we did a reading, which was fun to put together. We kept tweaking it until we moved from the People's Improv Theater to the Elektra and now New World Stages, and it's been a fun time." He told Granshaw that the hardest part about creating the show was to cram seven books, movies, and all the humor into a show that actually wouldn't run for five hours (a line said by the narrator in the beginning of the show). The next step was to make sure that all the characters were interesting and had depth.

Granshaw asked if the play having moved to several different locations changed staging and the play itself. Cox told her that it definitely did because, as each theater grew in popularity, it also grew in size and stage space. He and McCarthy, of course, found it challenging to make it bigger and grander but still remain exciting and interesting, therefore using the technique of the different doors.

When asked what it was like balancing the humor and serious bits of the show, Cox responded with: "That was one of the most important things when we were developing the show, that it still had that sense of really true heart to it, just because, similar to what I was saying

earlier, that way it doesn’t just feel like a parody, which would have been very easy to do. That way it’s something that sticks with you, that sense of heart. We all come from theater backgrounds, and it was the only way to make it feel like it was an actual story in the same way the books and movies are. The reason they’ve lasted this long because there’s so many relatable things and putting that in and having there be a reason this story is being told."[2]

Productions[edit | edit source]

Puffs opened on July 2, 2015 at the off-off-Broadway theater, The PIT in New York City, New York,[3] directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker and was scheduled to be just a two night run. The theater saw how well Puffs was doing and decided to extend the run which ended up running for more than a year.[4] In late 2016, Tilted Windmills Theatricals decided to produce Puffs at the Elektra Theater Off-Broadway. Scenic, Costume, and Prop design was by Madeleine Bundy, Lighting design by Herrick Goldman, Sound Design by Cox himself, and included Original Music by Brian Hoes.

About a year later, New World Stages, an Off-Broadway theater also in New York offered to take Puffs in for a permanent run in stage 5. It opened on July 17, 2017 with same designs and direction from the Elektra.

In late April May of 2018, Fathom Events announced that they would be broadcasting Puffs live off-Broadway in theaters around the world for two nights.[5]

In April of 2019, Puffs announced a production across the globe in Sydney, Australia for a limited run at The Entertainment Quarter.[6] Actress playing Leanne, Lauren McKenna would also be resident directing and it was included that the Sydney production would essentially re-create designs by Bundy, Goldman, Cox, and Hoes. It opened May 17 and it was decided to include Saturday and Sunday G-rated matinees.

On June 20, Puffs announced that they would be closing Off-Broadway on August 18.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

There is an optional intermission at the end of year 4.

The Narrator introduces Wayne Hopkins, an ordinary kid who lives with his Uncle Dave in the "even more magical land than England" Cattlepoke Springs, New Mexico and loves Star Wars. One day, Wayne gets a letter inviting him to a certain school of female magic and male magic. Wayne is sorted into the "Puffs" group and the narrator tells the audience that the Puffs are not everyone's favorite. A group of different Puffs is introduced and throughout the play, it is revealed that while the Puffs can be kind, friendly, and good at making friends, no one accepts them for who they are. When the task falls to Wayne to defeat "he-who-shall-not-be-named" he gathers his friends, his willy, all of his friends, and tries to save the school anyway he can.

In one scene, the headmaster tells Wayne "It is very easy to feel as though you are just some side character in someone else's story. That does not mean, however, that there isn't another story out there. One where you're the hero, the most important person. We're all important Wayne. And we're all unimportant."

Puffs is the story of Wayne, the most heroic and in some ways, the most important Puff of them all.

Casts and Characters[edit | edit source]

Character[edit | edit source]

Workshop (2015)[edit | edit source]

Off-Broadway (2016)[edit | edit source]

Off-Broadway (2017)[edit | edit source]

Sydney, Australia Cast (2019)[7][edit | edit source]

Wayne Hopkins Zac Moon Ryan Hawke
Oliver Rivers Langston Belton Adam Marks
Megan Jones Julie Ann Earls Angelina Thompson
Narrator/Wayne Jr. A.J. Ditty Gareth Issac
Cedric Diggory/Mr. Voldy Evan Maltby James Fouhey James Bryers
J Finch/Others Nick Carlillo Daniel Cosgrove
Sally Perks/Others Jessie Cannizzaro Kimie Tsukakoshi
Susie Bones/Others Madeleine Bundy Olivia Charalambous
Ernie Mac/Others Stephen Stout Matt Whitty
Hannah/Others Eleanor Philips Annabelle Tudor
Leanne/Others Andy Miller Lauren McKenna
Swing N/A Anna Dart Brooke Rayner
Swing N/A Jake Keefe James Haxby

Everyone except Zac Moon, Andy Miller, Madeleine Bundy, and Stephen Stout has been replaced at one point throughout the Off-Broadway run.

Other Characters[edit | edit source]

Death Buddies are to played by all

J Finch[edit | edit source]

  • Uncle Dave
  • Goyle
  • A Fat Friar
  • Clumsy Longbottom
  • Hermioone #3
  • Viktor
  • Mr. Bagman
  • Zach Smith

Sally[edit | edit source]

  • Hermioone #1
  • Blondo Malfoy
  • Rowena The Raven
  • Rita Skeeter
  • Bippy

Susie[edit | edit source]

  • Harry
  • Colin
  • Hermioone #2
  • Ric Gryff
  • Myrtle

Ernie Mac[edit | edit source]

  • A Very Tall Man
  • Finnegan Seamus
  • A Certain Potions Teacher
  • Professor Turban
  • Ghost History Teach
  • Professor Locky
  • Mr. Nick
  • Sal The Snake
  • Second Headmaster
  • Real Mr. Moody

Hannah[edit | edit source]

  • The First Headmaster
  • Professor McG
  • Professor Sprouty
  • Xavia Jones
  • Professor Lanny
  • Runes Teach
  • Ms. Babble

Leanne[edit | edit source]

  • Goldstein Anthony
  • Ginny
  • Helga
  • Frenchy

Critical Reception[edit | edit source]

The New York Times's Laura Collins-Hughes wrote: "The fun of “Puffs,” though, is in its intersections with the story we know from J. K. Rowling’s books and the movie adaptations. The one Puff with any panache is Cedric Diggory, played by Evan Maltby with such lovable good-guy warmth that when he dies, in an episode the narrator (A. J. Ditty) calls “Year Four: The Puffs and the Year They Mattered,” it’s actually rather sad. (Again: You didn’t already know that Cedric dies? Not the show for you.)"[8]

Diane Snyder from Time Out (magazine) says: "But even Potter virgins will enjoy the show’s witty wordplay and well-executed physical comedy. At times, the pacing is so frenetic that jokes can’t find a place to land, but there’s heart as well as humor here."[9]

Theasy.com wrote: "Puffs wisely avoids special effects or high-tech gadgetry—the show begins with an overhead projector!—and instead uses inventive movement and plenty of (theatrical) magic. Many of the ideas are all the more enjoyable for their simplicity—I’m still laughing at how the ghosts are staged."[10]

Jade Kops of BroadwayWorld said: "Cox cleverly highlights the flaws in the books and the movies and neatly skirts around the Potter/Gryffindor centric storyline that everyone knows by not even presenting Ron and Hermione as real people. Professors are presented with enough recognizable traits to not require names to be used and events easily tie together for well versed fans."[11]

Matt Windman from the theater critic's site AM New York wrote: "By the end, “Puffs” comes to resemble a “Saturday Night Live” skit that has gone on way too long, feeling rushed in its storytelling and long-winded in its execution. Many jokes fail to land, and the humor may be too tame for its own good. The severest knock is a sly reference to Michael Gambon taking over for the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore (“I’m telling you guys, the headmaster looks different this year.”) Nevertheless, “Puffs” offers a good deal of harmless fun and manages to embrace a cute riff on a popular franchise. “Harry Potter” fans who are unable to obtain or afford tickets to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Broadway (or who lack the time to sit through all five-plus hours of it) might want to consider “Puffs” as a juvenile but friendly alternative."[12]

Awards And Nominations[edit | edit source]

Off-Broadway Production
Year Award Category Nominee Result
2017 Off Broadway Alliance Award[13] Best Unique Theatrical Experience
Nominated

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Matt Cox Land".
  2. "SYFY - Inside Puffs, an unofficial off-Broadway play about Harry Potter's loser kids".
  3. "Peoples Improv Theater".
  4. "Off Broadway's Puffs Closing Date".
  5. "Puffs: Filmed Live Off-Broadway".
  6. ""Puffs" Has Announced An All-Australian Cast For Its Sydney Production".
  7. "All-Australian Cast Announced For PUFFS Sydney Season".
  8. "Review: 'Puffs' Parodies Harry Potter's World - The New York Times".
  9. "Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic | Theater in New York".
  10. "Theatre Is Easy | Reviews | Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic".
  11. "BWW REVIEW: PUFFS OR SEVEN INCREASINGLY EVENTFUL YEARS AT A CERTAIN SCHOOL OF MAGIC AND MAGIC Is A Hilarious Parody For Fans Of The Famous Magic Franchise".
  12. "'Puffs' review: An overstretched but affectionate 'Harry Potter' spoof | am New York".
  13. "'Puffs' Harry Potter play nominated for award and celebrates milestone".


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