Review: ‘Puffs’ at New World Stages: It’s ‘Third or Nothing’ for Those Other Three Student Wizards

By John Buckley on 21 July 2017
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This week, the hit play “Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic” moved seven blocks uptown to New York’s favorite off-Broadway theatre, New World Stages, for its third staging of the show.  Even if you’ve been one among the lucky few thousand to have seen one of the original adaptations of the play, you’ll want to return to your favorite school of magic if not just to see the new, grander, thoroughly immersive set, but to hear all the updated hilarious jokes from playwright Matt Cox, which are sure to have any witch, wizard, or muggle, cackling until their cheeks hurt.

Without the use of any special effects, aside from an occasional light up wand tip, director Kristin McCarthy Parker has created a magical stage farce that is non-stop fun. With the extremely hilarious and talented cast, she never allows your imagination to stray from this “Certain School of Magic and Magic” for almost two hours. When a trio of magical first year students;  Zac Moon as Wayne, Langston Belton as Oliver, and Julie Ann Earls as Megan, meet and semi-instantaneously become friends when they are selected to be “Puffs,” as opposed to a “Brave,” “Snake,” or “Smart.”  Sound at all familiar?

The rest of the company includes skillful comedians and improv artists Madeleine Bundy, Jessie Cannizzaro, Nick Carillo, A.J. Ditty, James Fouhey, Andy Miller, Eleanor Philips and Stephen Stout, who masterly portray what seems to be hundreds of characters each, some new and some familiar.  Just witnessing Stout’s Alan Rickman, Philips’ Maggie Smith and Cannizzaro’s Bippy the house elf are worth the price of admission.

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“Puffs” proves that you don’t always have to be the hero to have a story that deserves to be shared with the world.  The Puffs have decided they are on a mission to come in third in their schools house competition, after coming in fourth for, well, forever. The first year after believing they have succeeded, there is a change of house points that puts the Puffs back in last place.  The third year, the headmaster, without any explanation, looks a little different and the fourth year a Puff is selected for a series of competitions in which he loses his life.  While it may sound even more familiar that this story ends with a huge wizard battle, it is an entire new journey that is worth a trip to New York City to see.

The show is scheduled to run six times a week on Fridays through Mondays, now through January 14th, 2018. Weekend matinee performances are slightly altered to be more appropriate for younger children.  For anyone who’s been at all captivated by any piece of the Potter universe, “Puffs” is a must see.

THE DETAILS

Puffs
New World Stages
340 W 50th Street
New York, N.Y. 10019
Runtime: 1 hour and 45 minutes
www.puffstheplay.com

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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