Vail Mountain School presents virtual performances of Harry Potter parody play “Puffs”
Vail Mountain School Upper School students will present virtual performances of “Puffs,” a play about Wayne Hopkins, boy wizard, who attends magic school in England, and enjoys adventures with his two best friends along the way.
Fourteen students have spent this school year rehearsing, and have successfully figured out how to play 48 different roles in “Puffs,” all while wearing masks and social distancing during rehearsals. They will do the same during the virtual performances, which are Thursday, Dec. 3 and Friday, Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m.
“While the show is downright goofy at times, it has a lot of heart and great messages about perseverance, failure, and friendship,” said Theatre Director Tony Bender.
While the plot sounds strikingly similar to the seven-book series about boy wizard Harry Potter, “Puffs” sorts Hopkins into the Puff house. While Potter was sorted into hero-house Gryffindor, “Puffs” nods to the often-overlooked Hufflepuff house, “where they are just and loyal, those patient Hufflepuffs are true, and unafraid of toil,” as the Sorting Hat stated in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
“Puffs” certainly pays homage to its ancestor: while the play is about learning to fight evil wizards, it differs in that Hopkins, unlike Potter, was not destined to save the world.
“It is ultimately a story about growing up. It’s a story about going to school, trying to make friends, and not being very popular. This is adolescence through a wizard filter,” wrote playwright Matt Cox in “Puffs”’s Playbill. “They deal with death, personal identity, relationships, and what it means to feel insignificant in the world at large. There may in fact be some tears in the end. Maybe.”
“Puffs” isn’t the first play to take the Harry Potter universe and cast to the stage. The most widely-known adaptation, which is technically considered part of the Harry Potter canon (in fandoms, this means an authentic and authoritative truth within the larger story), is “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” from 2016. It was still running on Broadway across the globe — including London and New York — until the coronavirus pandemic prompted shutdowns.
More in the realm of parody, “A Very Potter Musical,” “A Very Potter Sequel” and “A Very Potter Senior Year” became some of the most beloved fan adaptations, thanks to its accessibility on YouTube. Written and performed by students at the University of Michigan in 2009, the musical featured highly-quotable one-liners, humorous songs and raunchier personalities than would have been appropriate in the kids’ book series. Actor Darren Criss, who’s now known for roles in “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” played Harry Potter.
Bender is proud of the work his students have been able to accomplish, despite the casting and public health challenges in their way.
“I’m not going to lie, doing a show in masks is not easy. Thankfully, I have a wonderful cast whose perseverance is incredibly admirable and whose work ethic is on par with professionals. While we would love to have a full house of laughing audience members, we are excited to have you laugh out loud in pajama pants on your couches,” he said.
Tickets for the virtual shows cost $15 and are available at vms.booktix.com.
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