On & Off Broadway


Review by Elyse Trevers


Students who attend Hogwarts School, the school that the famous Harry Potter attended, must be assigned to one of four houses by the sorting hat. Inevitably the houses get their reputation by the characteristics of the students who live in each. The Hufflepuff House is known for its niceness. These students are the characters of “Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” and when there are challenges, foes to vanquish and points to accumulate, they usually come in fourth and last.

You will enjoy Puffs, the small Off-Broadway show moving to the New World Stages if you are very familiar with all the books in the Harry Potter series. The show covers all seven years of schooling in a brief 100 minutes. Only one actual J.K. Rowling character, Cedric Diggory, is highlighted in the play. He mentors the new students in the house and later participates in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The play primarily focuses upon a trio of students, Wayne, Oliver and Megan. Wayne, like Harry, has no idea that he was a wizard. Although he’s a math genius, Oliver can’t master wizardry classes, and Megan is an angry young woman whose mother has become a follower of “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” The three bond, becoming close friends.

The show offers lessons about acceptance, friendship and bravery and those of us who weren’t the “bravest, smartest or prettiest” at school can identify with the Puffs. The show stresses “Aw” factor as it hits all the emotional buttons, especially as some of the ‘nebbishy’ teenagers show strength and courage.

It was obvious that the majority of the mostly youngish female audience attending the performance that I saw were “Potterheads.” There were jokes and allusions to the books and all around us, members of the audience were hysterically laughing. Although I’ve read all the books in the series, some of the references slipped by me. My poor companion, never having read any of them, was totally lost and quite bored.

Next spring, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, a two-part play, will open on Broadway. That show focuses on the children of Harry, Hermione and Ron. The sold-out production in London is bound to be a hot ticket in New York as well. For a lot less money and better seats, Harry Potter lovers should consider seeing Puffs instead.

The Facebook test I took this morning sorted me in the Ravenclaw House characterized by wit, learning and wisdom, but for a brief hour and a half, all of us in the theater became Puffs, rooting for the underdogs.