Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Something familiar about this school of magic

Young talent shines in PFW production of PG-13 rated Puffs

There are opportunities to catch Purdue Fort Wayne’s production of Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. The play stars, from left, Lori Ulick, Evan Snaufer, and Gabriel Reed.

Jen Poiry Prough

Whatzup Features Writer

Published February 15, 2023

Despite controversy around a certain children’s book author, Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic, running at Purdue University-Fort Wayne’s Williams Theatre, is a fantastic production and well worth seeing. 

The show is unendorsed and unauthorized by the books or films it references through the U.S. Fair Use law.

The story spans six years at a school for magic that will seem familiar to many, although very few familiar names are mentioned. It focuses on a group of students known as Puffs, who are constantly being bullied by the other groups: the Braves, the Smarts, and the Rich Blonde A**holes.

The Puffs are the awkward outcasts who don’t really fit into any of the other categories. 

Their goal is to end the competitive school year in third place for a change. But as each year passes, they find themselves overshadowed by one of the Braves, who just seems to fall into glory for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Led by Wayne, Oliver, and Megan, the only three students without British accents, the Puffs continually try their hardest to become heroes but fail, many of them dying along the way. In the end, they learn that failing is just the opportunity to keep trying again.

Meet the cast

Headed by Maggie Otis as the hilariously sardonic narrator who breaks the fourth wall, the young cast of 12 brilliant and energetic performers portray more than 50 characters. Their comedic timing and physicality are thrilling to watch, and each of the cast members has a bright future in theater if they choose to pursue it.

Caleigh Loveless literally stops the show in an improvised scene wherein they portray an intensely hyped-up gym teacher. I don’t usually laugh until I cry, but I did on opening night. 

Renae Rogers is adorably coy as that undeserving Brave student with glasses into whose lap opportunity constantly falls while the Puffs are left in the shadows to die nameless in the war he started. 

Christian Capuyan has perfected graceful athletic charm as the star Puff, Cedric Diggory. It should be no surprise to fans of the source material that he has an untimely end, and some of the show’s biggest laughs are derived from the character’s oblivious optimism as he prepares to meet his doom.

The growing and sometimes unlikely friendship of Wayne, Oliver, and the emo Puff, Megan, is beautifully portrayed by Gabriel Reed, Evan Snaufer, and Lori Ulick.

Olivia Albertson, Chase Bills, Kimberlee Gearhart, Madison Morgan, and Sarah Rock each have their own opportunities to shine as a wide variety of characters.

Relive fond memories 

The show pokes fun at a few of the problematic aspects of the books and films, such as a scene with an underage boy in the bathtub or the headmaster paying attention only to his “favorite” student and the inconsistencies of the plot, although it wisely leaves out racism, antisemitism, and cultural appropriation.

The script contains a number of F-bombs, sexually explicit phrases, and flipped birds, so you might want to leave the young ones at home. This show is advertised as PG-13, but the language and some innuendo might be better suited for an even older crowd, depending on the kid.

Puffs is presented with no intermission and runs a little longer than the “90-ish” minutes the Narrator promises. But it’s not only filled with comfortable nostalgia and ’90s pop culture references, it’s also got heart. It’s a great way to relive some fond memories and share in some collective magic without supporting evil.

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