You’re a wizard, Wayne

North Country School puts on ‘Harry Potter’ parody ‘Puffs’

North Country School student Ivy L.S. sings as Bippy, a house elf, at rehearsal for the school’s production of “Puffs” on Sunday morning. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

LAKE PLACID — A boy wizard and his two best friends attend a boarding school to learn more about magic. For the next seven years, they encounter a variety of monsters, villains and mayhem, all while navigating the ins and outs of adolescence. There’s just one catch: The boy’s name is Wayne Hopkins, and he’s a Puff.

North Country School’s spring play is “Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic”“Puffs” for short. It’s a parody of the “Harry Potter” series, told from the perspective of the often ignored Hufflepuff house. The names of familiar characters and locations are tweaked slightly in the show to avoid copyright infringement; Voldemort is “Mr. Voldy” and Harry Potter is a student in “Brave” house, not Gryffindor.

This week, the students will bring the show to the public after an extensive rehearsal process with director and theater teacher Courtney Allen. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center at NCS.

“It’s been going well,” NCS student Matt G. said. “We make progress every (rehearsal).”

Matt plays Cedric Diggory, the most notable Hufflepuff in the “Harry Potter” series and the mentor to the main characters in “Puffs.” A ninth-grade student, this is Matt’s final show at NCS. He’ll graduate on Saturday.

From left, North Country School students Wyatt L., River G. and Julia L. perform as Wayne, Oliver and Megan at rehearsal for the school’s production of “Puffs” on Sunday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

“I really wanted to do something special, go out with something memorable,” he said. “Cedric’s kind of a role model, and in the play he’s a role model. Everyone looks up to him and he knows a lot of magic.”

He was especially excited for “Puffs” because he read the “Harry Potter” books for the first time last year, so they’re fresh in his memory.

Also excited for the performance was eighth-grade student Ivy L.S., who said she’s read all the books and watched all the movies at least three times each.

“I worked on crew and I was an actor at my old school, just at different times. I really like both of them,” she said. “The acting is really fun because it’s fun to see everything come together in the end. At first, it’s just small pieces.”

A relatively new student at NCS — she transferred in January — Ivy plays a couple of characters in the show and was on the team of students who helped build the set alongside technical theater teacher Larry Robjent.

North Country School student Roan M. addresses the audience as the narrator at rehearsal for the school’s production of “Puffs” on Sunday morning. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

“(The set) was really cool. It started off as a drawing and an idea, and then we started adding stuff to it,” she said.

Robjent modeled the set off of clamshell castles and dollhouses that children play with; depending on the scene, the set can be closed to place students outside the front door of the common room or castle, or opened to reveal the Puff common room.

“The castle moving open and closed, I hope that impresses the audience,” eighth-grade student Emma Z. said. She is the crew boss — that is, the manager who coordinates the rest of the crew to assure that scene changes and prop handoffs happen flawlessly.

“I acted in my primary school and that was not the best for me, but I really liked to do art stuff or design, so I just did stagecraft. I feel like working backstage and taking the props onstage is really cool,” she said.

There are a lot of moving parts in “Puffs,” aside from the set. An owl flies overhead and drops a letter to a character, “soul-sucking security guards” (dementors, to “Harry Potter” fans) soar from the catwalks, basilisk and spider puppets drop in at various points. The show is also scored with original music composed and played by the NCS student theater band and music teacher Gwen Tracy.

North Country School student Nadya M. controls a “soul-sucking security guard” — known to “Harry Potter” fans as a dementor — from the catwalks at rehearsal for the school’s production of “Puffs” on Sunday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

Matt said that, if the actors do their jobs correctly, you don’t need to be a “Harry Potter” fan to appreciate “Puffs.”

“If everyone really gets into character — most people have heard of Harry Potter, but they’ve never heard of Wayne Hopkins or Megan Jones. So, it’ll be interesting to see and really give the audience members a feel for who these characters are,” he said.

To attend a performance of “Puffs,” RSVP to info@northcountryschool.org.


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