|Their classmates challenge (from right) Megan (Michelle Skinner) and Wayne (Will Livingston).
Photo by Scott Lasky
Matt Cox’s “Puffs,” subtitled “or: Seven
Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” is being
staged by Palo Alto Players.
Inspired by the enormously popular Harry Potter
series by J.K. Rowling, it takes place at the same time that Harry is attending
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in England. However, it’s not
Harry’s story. Rather it’s the story of other students, called Puffs.
It features an ensemble cast of 14 mostly young
adults. It revolves around three of the students: Wayne (Will Livingston) and
his friends Oliver (Nicholas Athari) and Megan (Michelle Skinner). Another
major character is the Narrator (Tiffany Nwogu).
During their seven years together, they encounter
numerous challenges and dangers.
Harry Potter fans probably will recognize many of
the characters and events mentioned. Those who aren’t at familiar with the
series might find themselves wondering what’s going on despite a talented,
Director Kristin Walter doesn’t help because she allows
too much shouting and jumping around. Group hugs get to be old hat.
These factors probably contributed to the reason why
several people left during intermission of the reviewed June 18 matinee.
On the other hand, many in the audience seemed to
enjoy it, often laughing throughout the performance and cheering loudly at the
The purposely gloomy set is by Kevin Davies with
lighting by Edward Hunter, sound design by the playwright and costumes by Jenny
Garcia. Brian Metolius composed the background music.
According to a PAP statement, the show “is not
authorized, sanctioned or endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. or any person
or company associated with the Harry Potter books, films or play.”
Running about two and a half hours with an
intermission, “Puffs” will continue through July 2 at the Lucie Stern Theater,
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.
For tickets and information, call (650) 329-0891 or