Going to wizarding school is hard, even when you’re not the Boy Everything Happens To. This is the premise of Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic, a hilariously heartfelt parody of the famous seven-book series focusing on the often forgotten house of Puff.
“The biggest thing that appealed to me is that pop culture has sort of deemed them to be the losers at the school, and myself not having been the coolest human being growing up, that seemed like the most interesting story to tell to give them their due,” says playwright (and sound designer) Matt Cox.
Puffs started at the Peoples Improv Theater last December, running for months of sold-out shows before making the jump to the off-Broadway Elektra Theatre, where it officially opens Oct. 20.
Cox grew up with the books like its characters, and found room for his own ideas in the throwaway lines about the house that wasn’t the Braves, Snakes or Smarts, as Puffs calls them.
“It’s still a very bit-y and silly play, so it was a matter of making the humor stand out,” he says of adapting the show from a improv theater to off-Broadway. “We found that it created something a little more unique whenever there was an emotional moment surrounding [a joke], and definitely in an off-Broadway setting that’s something we wanted to have.”
The play’s own trio is led by Wayne, who grew up in New Mexico and is excited about his new magical life. Along with math wiz Oliver and broody loner Megan, they make their way through seven dramatic years (in about 90 minutes). And, because this is a parody, along the way they also — lovingly — mock the series (don’t worry fans, you’ll be nodding along).
For those who have seen the show, there are more props, an actual set and even some special effects. The extra space created ways to amp up some of the big moments, especially the climactic battle at the end of Year 7.
Cox tinkered with the play for pretty much its entire run at the PIT, but as of opening night he says he’s done — barring any side projects like the Puffs edition of “Cursed Child” that was staged as a one-night-only script reading at the PIT. That might recur, “and once a certain movie comes out next month, we’re gonna do a similar thing.”
Speaking of side projects, the Elektra’s lobby is papered with posters teasing plays about all of the other houses. Are they a preview of things to come? Cox says no, but then follows up with: “Only one of those has the potential of maybe happening as a very small thing.” Accio, sequel!
Through Jan. 1
The Elektra Theatre, 300 W. 43rd St., Second Floor