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Sunday, March 03, 2024
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‘Puffs’ proves that there’s more to life than being a hero

The student-directed play features a lot more humor and lot less Rowling

<p>The cast of "Puffs" gathers in formation to defend Hogwarts against Voldemort in this student-directed tongue-in-cheek play on the Harry Potter universe.</p>

The cast of "Puffs" gathers in formation to defend Hogwarts against Voldemort in this student-directed tongue-in-cheek play on the Harry Potter universe.

Step into the world of “Puffs,” a tongue-in-cheek “Harry Potter” parody play that promises laughter from start to finish for Potterheads and muggles alike.

This past weekend, “Puffs” made its debut as part of the Department of Theatre and Dance’s student-directed series of plays (SDS) — but “Puffs” stands out from the rest.

“I broke a lot of rules,” Moriah Armstrong, the show’s director, said. 

The typical SDS play has a maximum of four cast members, a duration of 90 minutes and no intermission. “Puffs” has a two-hour runtime, a full intermission and a cast of 14.  

Armstrong grew up with Harry Potter and adores the franchise but is not a big fan of its controversial creator, J.K. Rowling.

“This show is not endorsed by her at all,” Armstrong said. “Everybody who loves Harry Potter and grew up with that gets to experience it, but without supporting her.”

“Puffs” tells the story of a group of kids at a wizarding school, sorted into a house of students who are overly friendly, but not well liked. There are striking similarities between the Puffs and the Harry Potter house, the Hufflepuffs, who were frequently overlooked throughout the series. 

The story centers on three best friends — Oliver, Megan and Wayne — who battle evil dark wizards, and the challenges of adolescence. (These character names might ring a bell for die-hard Potterheads.)

“All the characters in the show are named in the [Harry Potter] books. It’s just that we took their names and that’s the only likeness that they share with the characters in the books,” Julia Pitaressi, a junior musical theater major, explained.

Pitaressi plays five characters in “Puffs,” including the adorkably over-the-top Leanne, Hermeoone and the hilariously lonely Moaning Myrtle. While some of those names may seem recognizable, Pitaressi warns audience members not to be too attached to preconceived notions.

“It’s almost like taking [the characters’] qualities and exploding that, making it bigger and bigger,” Pitaressi said.

For example, Moaning Myrtle is stuck in the bathroom as she is in the series, but her flirtatious qualities are exaggerated. Upon finding one of the most popular Puffs, Cedric, taking a bath shirtless, she exclaims, “Myrtle wants to moan!” 

Voldemort is also a caricature of himself, serenading his evil crew with moves more akin to Ice Spice than a tyrannical overlord.

It’s not necessary to know Harry Potter front to back to enjoy the show. Alex Louis, a freshman musical theater major who plays Oliver, says he “read a little bit of the first few books and watched the movies.” Despite his unfamiliarity with the source material, Louise still had a blast performing in “Puffs.” 

“It is funny despite the fact you may have never seen Harry Potter,” Armstrong said. 

The Puffs, like Hufflepuffs, are made fun of for being less than smart and more than kind. While someone might not entirely grasp every single reference to the novels or allusion to the films, the show’s message is universal: 

“Puffs is written for anyone who was never destined to be a hero. Puffs is about knowing that even if you’re not the hero, if you’re never destined to have some huge magical adventure, you are still important to everyone around you,” Armstrong said. “You are still the main character in your own story.”

The arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com   


SOPHIA STINES

Sophia Stines is a staff writer. 

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