Potter comedy to weave its spell on Qld fans
ANY child who grew up reading JK Rowling's Harry Potter books dreamed of the day when an owl would arrive with their invitation to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
That dream comes true for young Australian boy Wayne in the comedy play PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic.
But his dreams of becoming a great wizard don't exactly pan out.
"He's a sweet guy who comes from Queensland, and somehow gets a letter and gets shipped off to a certain school," actor Ryan Hawke says.
"He's a bit of a nerd who grew up without his parents, so when he gets this letter he thinks he's going to be the best wizard that's ever been. He's read all of these stories and comic books and thinks 'This is my time'. Throughout the story we find out that it might not happen like that. It takes him a little bit of time to understand that maybe he's not the hero."
Since premiering in an off-Broadway theatre in New York in 2015, Puffs has become a cult hit with Potter fans and last year it enjoyed a record-breaking run at the Alex Theatre in Melbourne.
The Potter parody follows a lovable group of misfits who just happen to be at the same school as a certain boy wizard. While Harry's off saving the world, these young students are just trying to pass their classes.
"It works because I think so many people love the source material," says cast member and resident director Lauren McKenna. "The books and movies were such a huge part of people's upbringing.
"I loved the books growing up. I had a wizard bedroom in Year 7 and I played potions with my friends.
"Anyone who doesn't know the material still enjoys it. It's a fast-paced comedy with a great story, and those who do get those references get a bit of added fun.
"The great thing is we're presenting a story about the underdogs and Aussies love the underdogs."
In the Potter universe, a magical sorting hat assigns new students to different houses which correspond with their personalities and wizarding traits. So what does it mean to be sorted as a Puff?
"The main traits are loyalty and kindness, however the lesser-known traits include being a bit of a duffer, an underdog or a bit hopeless," McKenna says.
"This show is perfect for people who went through school and didn't feel like they fit in, or like they hadn't found their tribe yet. People come to the show and say 'I love the series so I knew I was going to love it but I didn't expect to see myself up there'. We think there's a little bit of Puff in everyone."
That Puff heart has extended to the cast, who started a 'Puff up' jar during the Melbourne season but decided it wasn't in the spirit of the show.
"It ended up not being very Puff-y to call people out when they stuffed up so we turned it into a 'Puff love' jar," McKenna says. "We put in little affirmations and compliments and every Sunday we read them out."
Family-friendly matinee shows are designed for theatre-goers aged eight years and up.
"They're designed so little witches and wizards won't be learning any new curses or spell words," McKenna says. "The language is cleaned up, a few moments are altered slightly and there's less innuendo, however people who come to the matinee show won't feel like they've missed anything."
PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic plays the Powerhouse Theatre in Brisbane from August 23 to September 15. To book tickets go to ticketek.com.au.