Shoreline Theatre Company’s Fun, Poignant ‘Puffs’
It’s no longer running Off-Broadway, but fans of a certain Potter can grab a seat in Branford to take in Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic.
The curtain rises on Shoreline Theatre Company’s (STC) production of Puffs Thursday, Oct. 13, Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Cathyann Roding Auditorium at Branford High School, 185 East Main St. General admission tickets, $10 for students and $20 for adults, are on sale now at branfordrec.org and available at the door on show nights. STC was founded 5 years ago by Colin Sheehan and Mike Martone Jr., under the umbrella of Branford Parks and Recreation.
Puffs tells the story of a certain famous boy wizard’s 7 years at a certain famous boarding school for witches and wizards, as seen through the eyes of the Puffs (aka Hufflepuffs), members of one of the school’s student houses.
“They’re essentially a group that never seems to win -- their motto is ‘Third or Nothing.’ They’re always striving just to do the bare minimum and just be kind of good at magic,” said the STC play’s director, Chris Lemieux.
Puffs mirrors aspects of the 7-year story which spanned that better-known wizarding world, including some of the books’ and movies’ PG 13-rated experiences.
“It starts out kind of light and bright and goes on to a battle to save the world at the end,” said Lemieux. “So while it is a very fun romp at times, I think there is something very poignant about it; because the end of the show is the battle at the school and -- spoiler -- there are deaths.”
While there’s mention of better-known figures such as “Harry” and “a certain potions teacher,” Puffs is populated by a group of completely original characters, including the play’s protagonist, Wayne.
“Unlike Harry, Wayne is just really, really bad at magic. He’s just trying to find himself in a world that’s so obsessed by that one boy with the scar on his forehead,” said Lemieux.
The auditioned adult cast, including one member who travels from New York to participate, is put to task taking on many different roles within the play’s seemingly non-stop action.
“We have 11 cast members; and 4 or 5 of them only play one role, but then all of the rest play at least 10 characters each. It’s like Looney Tunes meets Harry Potter,” said Lemieux.
The set, built by STC, will transport audience members straight to a certain Room of Requirements. Throughout the play, cast members cycle through its doors to reappear in completely different guise.
“Our goal is to get the entire story done in less than 2 hours. It’s going to be fun for the actors to see they can achieve that goal, and it’s going to be fun for the audiences to see how they get there,” said Lemeiux.
STC also secured the rights to use the original music and sound effects of the show.
“There’s over 700 music and sound cues. We’re using that in the show, and it really does up the production value,” said Lemieux.
While Wayne, and his co-Puffs, seem to be always finding failure, “..there is something beautiful about them trying to be better wizards not just for themselves, but for each other,” said Lemieux. “While people are laughing, there are moments when you’ll stop and realize something just happened that is pretty poignant. And that’s exactly what it was like reading the books and watching the movies.”