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Moorestown High show a 'clever, affectionate' satire on being true to oneself

Christine Harkinson/The Sun
Students rehearse for “PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic.” Shows are Thursday to Sunday.

Moorestown High School’s fall play, “PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” will have performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.

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The school’s adaptation is directed by Erica Harr, with set by Carl Smith and Chris Miller, lighting by Dee Dugan and Chris Miller, costumes by Erin Cramer, sound by Jeffrey Redwanowski and assistant direction from Greg Harr.

“PUFFS” is known for its clever and affectionate satire, as well as a heartwarming message about the value of friendship, bravery and being true to oneself, even if you’re not the “chosen one.”

The play, written by Matt Cox, revolves around Wayne Hopkins, an ordinary, unassuming young student at “A Certain School of Female Magic and Male Magic.” Hopkins is a member of the Puffs – one of the four houses there – and he and his peers embark on a series of comic misadventures during seven years at the school. They encounter various magical creatures, deal with inept professors, and even find themselves inadvertently involved in the major events of the wizarding world.

While that more famous student and his friends are off fighting dark wizards and uncovering hidden secrets, the Puffs are often just trying to survive and make it through the school year.

“ … I had seen a production locally a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and thought it was a sweet story,” Harr said of PUFFS. “It’s kind of silly and goofy, but it has this really nice message, and so it seemed like a really fun piece.”

Last year’s fall play was “A Christmas Carol,” but Harr wanted to switch things up for 2023.

“ … We wanted to do something that was nothing like that, that wasn’t necessarily elegant, but that was fun and silly and goofy,” she explained, “and it’s fun to see most of them (the students) playing kids of their own age. In a lot of the show, they’re playing these characters from this famous series where they’re mostly school-age kids.”

From Harr’s perspective, there are many sweet messages in the play, one being that it’s okay to not be great at one thing and okay to be okay at a lot of things. And it’s okay to be kind, fair and to be just.

“For a very silly show when we get to the end, you get hit with a lot of really strong messages,” Harr observed. “The headmaster, at the end, has this beautiful speech where he says, ‘It’s easy to feel like you’re a side character in someone else’s story, but you are always the main character in your own life, and everyone is important and everyone’s also unimportant.

“I think that’s such a great perspective and important for us to realize,” she added. “ … I think that there’s a really nice message of ‘Everyone’s important, but everyone’s also unimportant.’”

Sophomore Aiden Gentile plays Hopkins, and he looks forward to seeing how the audience reacts to the show’s humor. He also likes how his character is just a regular person.

“Most of the characters in the show, they’re from England or Scotland, where my character is just from like, New Mexico, and (is) just kind of like a regular kid,” he noted. “He has his Game Boy, he makes comic cook references … He’s just a regular person in this crazy world of witchcraft and wizardry, so I enjoy that element of it.”

Senior Anika Kaushal is the show’s narrator, and it’s her seventh show with the high- school’s theater program. Her favorite part of the day is being with the cast and crew and she loves making friendships, connecting with the audience through her role, but also facing its challenges.

“As the narrator, I’m not one of the Puffs,” Kaushal said. “So all of the scenes are about following these kids and these students that go to this school and have these experiences, and they get to witness everything first hand, but my character is a little bit on the outside of that.

“I have to find a way to relate to the characters (and) relate to the scene, while being at a safe distance away, and being outside of it in a sense that I’m not there with them and I can’t react the same way as these kids do, because I know what happens, and I’m there to recount it.”

To purchase show tickets, visit https://moorestownhstheater.weebly.com. For information and updates, visit the high-school theater’s Facebook and Instagram pages.


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