PUFFS, OR SEVEN INCREASINGLY EVENTFUL YEARS AT A CERTAIN SCHOOL OF MAGIC AND MAGIC presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati through Dec. 21. I attended the opening night performance.
PLEASE NOTE! This is not a children’s show. Know has rated the performance PG-13 as some material may be inappropriate for children 13 and under.
An orphan, a pure-blood, and a mudblood become fast friends at a wizarding school. But this is not the story you know. In this hysterical send-up, PUFFS focuses on classmates in a lesser house during those same seven years the school was attended by a certain bespectacled student with a lightning bolt scar.
Director Andrew Hungerford (who also serves as lighting designer) deftly manages the chaos, leading the talented 11-person ensemble (tackling more than 30 characters) through a frantic two-hour comic romp that runs parallel, and at times intersects, with the well-known series. The best compliment I can pay is that they all make the execution of this herculean task look easy. The versatile and hilarious cast includes Andrew Ian Adams, Merritt Beischel, Brianna Bernard, Brandon Burton, Maggie Cramer, Ben Dudley, Jared Earland, Maliyah Gramata-Jones, Elizabeth Chinn Molloy, Jordan Trovillion, and Chris Wesselman.
The show would not be nearly as successful without the incredible work of the production team and their contributions: the simple, detailed, and versatile set of Baron E. Pugh, finished by carpenter Andrew Homan; the crazy number of quick-changeable costumes designed by Noelle Wedig-Johnston; magic-ing made even more enjoyable by sound designer Douglas Borntrager; original yet reminiscent incidental music created by local composer James Allen; the oh-so-so-many props designed by Kayla Williams (who also served as paint charge); the “magical melees” credited to Jonn Baca; and the “soul sucking security guards” designed by puppeteer Sean Mette. With so much to handle, Henry Bateman directed the technical aspects of the show from the front while stage manager Meghan Winter (assisted by Madelyn Hawver & Matthew Schutte kept everything on track backstage. And finally, a mention of dialect coach Chaslee Schweitzer and production assistant Danitza Piper who rounded out the crew. As you can see, it takes a village to create a magic school.
You don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of the book or the movie series to enjoy this production. The script is tight and laugh out loud funny, but still allows for improvisation in several places. I’m not going to spoil any of it.
Tickets are flying out the door faster than you can say “Floo powder” so you better “accio” yours sooner rather than later.
My rating: 5 out of 5.
Click here for more information on the production.