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NVD’s “Puffs”: The Story of the Wizarding World’s Fantastic Wizards and Witches… At Least, Some of Them

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(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marconi)

NVD’s upcoming production of Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School of Magic and Magic—showing from Nov. 16-18—is a comedic retelling of the famous journey of one Mr. Potter… but it is not about him this time. This isn’t his story: it’s the story about the Puffs—not the confident Braves, nor the sly Snakes, nor the intellectual Smarts—the Puffs. 

The play follows this taboo house and its overlooked, not-so “important” witches and wizards who simply happen to get caught in the wild shenanigans their wizarding school can never stay out of. With the help of an eccentric Narrator (played by senior Trinity Lee), Puffs guides the audience through the hilarious, entertaining, and truly magical happenings of a group of friends who are just trying to make it as the “odd-ones-out” in their exhausting magic school. Together, they eventually learn the values of sticking with each other through all of the strange (and most of the time, deadly) obstacles that come their way each year.

Despite the funny, lighthearted shallow waters of Puffs, the show quickly journeys into its seemingly uncharted deep-end and exhibits its emotional layer. The director of the production, Mr. Marconi of NVD’s theater department, gives a deeper perspective into the overall message of Puffs.

“It’s a story that is about what it’s like to feel like a side character in someone else’s story—what it’s like to feel like when you are a person who believes that other people are more important than they are, and that you’ve been pushed to the side,” Marconi said.

Most, if not every character in Puffs desires to be significant and remembered, whether it be as a hero, as a boyfriend or girlfriend, or as a powerful and respected witch or wizard. Despite their differences, they all wish for importance and an opportunity to find their places in the wizarding world. Freshman Liam Weill, who portrays a lead character in the show (Wayne Hopkins) compares his character to himself and examines the parallel between reality and one of Puffs’ most valuable morals.

“In my opinion, Wayne is like a dual personality to me, because the main thing that he wants is to be a part of something big, something important, at least once in his life. That’s his main goal, and that’s been mine for a while. I’ve always wanted to fit in, I’ve always wanted to be a part of something important,” Weill said.

Weill takes in the relatable nature of Wayne to truthfully share with the audience what the character’s journey represents on a deeper level.

“I’ve seen so many shows here at NVD, and when they played [The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee] here… I told myself, I’m gonna be on that stage one day. And here I am. Anything that you want, if you really put your mind to it—[you can do] anything in the world,” he said, “the only thing stopping you is your head… if you want to be a part of something big, something important, don’t listen to your head. Just tell your head to go away and find someone else to mess with.”

If anything perfectly captures the community within Puffs, it’s the community OF Puffs. The cast and crew behind the show create connections as they work together, and it’s apparent as they act together on stage. Senior Zoe Weill, who plays another lead (Megan Jones), commented:

“It’s an incredible show that we’re currently having so much fun working on. So many people around the school of so many different talents, different grades, different backgrounds, are all coming together and putting in so much work to make this happen,” Weill said.

The actors and technicians involved in Puffs work together and pour all of their skills in to create the feel of the show, and their efforts can be easily spotted within the sets, acting, and costumes.

Weill said, “tech students are working to build our sets, painting, people who are incredible artists are coming to help paint. Actors are obviously acting, costume designers—all of these incredibly creative people from all around the school—you get to see their talent in one place on the stage.” 

The show’s actors are just half of what brings it to the stage —NVD’s tech handlers for the production work on sets, special effects, costumes, and everything that brings the world of Puffs to life. As a “techie”, senior Maya Petermann (Puffs’ costume curator) has a first-hand understanding of the tech department’s vitality in NVD productions.

“Without tech, you wouldn’t have half of what you see! I’ll use She Kills Monsters specifically… that show was so heavily reliant on tech. I had so many quick changes on both Act 1 and Act 2 that really helped the story move along… so I was running back and forth like a maniac,” Petermann explained, “the turntable and the lights and the smoke machine… all of that was automated by tech, so the dragon scene would not have looked that cool and dramatic without the lighting that our lighting technicians did together… Without that, the show would have looked drastically different, and certainly not as cool…”

In shows like Puffs, tech is responsible for building the world that influences the story’s characters and direction. Without the technicians’ work, shows would feel bland and not much would be conveyed with them.

Petermann continued, “…we run the show! But of course, you don’t see us. The whole point is that you’re not supposed to see us, but what we do. That’s the whole magic of theater… the elements around [the actors] are supposed to make the environment seem real, and draw people in… [aside from the actors’ talents], it would not look like an actual story without the tech.”

In the whole of Puffs, the talents of both the actors and the tech crew come together to form a heartwarming as well as heartbreaking rollercoaster experience for the audience. Zoe Weill describes what the show looks like—and feels like—from the perspective of an audience member, to give a sense of what to expect of Puffs.

“You will laugh, you will cry, you will do all the things. It is freaking hilarious! …some of the gags that we have in the show are so funny that the cast cannot keep it together! The amount of times that we’ve had to restart scenes because people are just dying of laughter on stage… it’s insane!” Weill said, “Just come prepared for a lot of laughter, a lot of tears, a lot of emotions, all the good feelings, all the bad feelings, all the feelings. It’s amazing.”

NVD’s Puffs is a story about finding and accepting oneself in a place where people feel doomed to fail. Through the eyes of the characters, audience members will learn that everyone has their own stories, no matter how dull they might think they are. The show challenges the meaning of “important”, and by the end, the audience will go home in smiles or in tears with the lessons of certain witches and wizards in a certain school of magic.

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About the Contributor
Lia Levy
Lia Levy, Staff Writer
Hi! I’m Lia, and I’m a sophomore at NVD this year. I’m a huge music and film buff and have a knack for showing it… in the best way! I’m so excited to see where I’ll go with my first year as a staff member at the Northern Star.
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