Mischief? We’ve Got It Managed

Ava De Leon, Staffer

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This year’s fall play had a mix of drama, comedy and magic. The latest performance by the Alley Cat Players, LBJ’s theater group, gave audiences a taste of the Harry Potter World with their adaptation of the Off-Broadway musical “Puffs”.
The world of Harry Potter has remained popular and commercially successful since its creation over 22 years ago, with 500 million copies sold worldwide. Numerous spinoff stories about the main characters from the series have been made, but “Puffs” follows the story of one student from the house of Hufflepuff who went to Hogwarts at the same time as Harry Potter but did not get the same attention. The story depicts the challenges that a Hogwarts student had to face while going to Hogwarts at the same time as Harry Potter. Much of the play deals with real issues like depression, starting over and discovering identity.
For fans of the book series like Freshman Samantha Mason, who performed in the show, it was refreshing to see a new perspective of the characters from the beloved story. The books only follow the students of the Gryffindor house and put the other three houses in the background.
“I thought it was really cool how they took a house there wasn’t really a developed story for and they turned it into an entire show worth of material,” Mason said. “After being in ‘Puffs’ I just noticed that all these other people have their own things and it wasn’t just about what was happening to Harry or Gryffindor necessarily.”
What made the play diverge from the books was that the main themes were different from those in the Harry Potter series. While J.K. Rowling incorporated themes like friendship, family and courage in her books, some readers like Mason felt as though the main characters didn’t face regular high school problems. This made the characters seem untouchable or perfect compared to “Puffs”, where the main themes differ greatly from Harry Potter, according to Mason. Douglas Brito, a freshman who participated in the show, said he enjoyed the play for its outstanding message to viewers.
“The main theme that I understood from ‘Puffs’ is that it’s okay to mess up because messing up makes us better,” Brito said. “If you asked [the audience] what the theme was they would say that failure is a part of life and you’ll get better eventually. It just makes ‘Puffs’ seem really relatable and hardworking and silly which everybody is.”
Although the actors in the show may have connected more to the themes of the play, some book lovers like senior Arien Wagen believe that the books were easier to relate to.
“I think the books are more relatable just because you get to know one character so much better,” Wagen said. “I’m a big fan of the fifth book where Harry is all emo. Everyone hates that book, but I really like it because I think it shows such diversity in one character and you can really relate to Harry and his friends.”
Wagen, who was familiar with the books and movies enjoyed references to the original books throughout the play. The script was written as a comedy and was meant to be very lighthearted and entertaining, according to Brito.
“A lot of the humor revolves around the play not being copyrighted to Harry Potter, so they kind of altered it to make it funny,” Brito said. “I think the audience got a lot of the humor we portrayed in it and the message that we gave them. I think the audience really enjoyed it, which is a really big factor and I really liked that the audience enjoyed it.”
Since “Puffs” was written as a comedy some audience members such as Wagen felt the idea of the magical world was lost when put into a different tone. Even though Harry Potter is not known for being comedic, Wagen thought that the script could have been better and funnier.
“I didn’t really love the script,” Wagen said. “I thought there were parts of it that were lacking or just not true to the magical spirit of the Harry Potter books and it lost some of the majesty seeing it in the play. I felt like it was trying too hard to be funny and the jokes that were written and scripted were not actually that funny so I just felt like the script was failing to be a comic rendition of the Harry Potter series.”
While the play did have a few aspects he didn’t enjoy, Wagen said the Alley Cat Players’ performance of “Puffs” was spectacular and enjoyable. For the performers in the play like Mason and Brito, being able to be a part of an adaptation of a worldwide phenomenon was an exciting experience, and they were both pleased with their performance and glad that they got to share it with the LASA students and teachers and the public.
“I think the audience received it really well,” Mason said. “They liked it. They were entertained they got a different perspective and they enjoyed that perspective and it left them touched and happy. I would give it a solid ten out of ten. It’s a great show and I had a great experience.”