It was 2015 when Matt Cox, a New York City-based playwright, actor and improviser, came up with the idea for PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic.
We all know of the enormously successful book and film series about a certain boy wizard who attended Wizard School. So, Cox wondered how the story would look if told from the perspective of other students who weren’t destined to triumph against the forces of darkness, but just happened to be there at the same time? PUFFS is the story of those students.
“They’re seemed something so rich about telling the story of the not-so-cool kids at wizard school, who also just happen to be there during very eventful years,” Cox tells Theatre People.
Since its first performances Off-Broadway in 2015, PUFFS has become a cult hit in New York, with The Huffington Post commending its “rip-roaring staging, wit and delightful theatrical craft.” Last year, the show enjoyed a critically-acclaimed, record-breaking three-month season in Melbourne. That 12-week run in Melbourne saw PUFFS earn the distinction of longest-running play in Melbourne for the past 48 years.
“It’s kept going, which is amazing,” Cox says.
PUFFS’ tremendous success over the last four years was well beyond the expectations of Cox and his creative team.
“We originally did the show at a comedy theatre in New York City and it was supposed to run for five performances,” he says. “We had the hope that … we would extend for two weeks or so … Maybe there would be enough people interested in our funny little wizard play.”
Cox speaks about PUFFS’ 2018 Australian premiere in Melbourne.
“That initial Melbourne run was something that I don’t think any of us ever dreamed would be a thing that would happen. We’re so wonderfully grateful and excited that it did happen, of course, but it was like every moment of even being there, when we were building our show, was like, ‘What? How are we here?’”
In May, PUFFS will have its Sydney premiere at Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park.
Written by Cox and directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker, PUFFS provides a new look at a familiar story from the perspective of three new heroes, all just trying to get through Wizard School. It’s a look at the much-loved world of wizards through the eyes of The Puffs, a lovable group of misfits.
Cox says there’s something for everybody in PUFFS.
“If you are a fan of a certain boy wizard and his misadventures, there are a lot of great wizard jokes and humour at the expense of the book series and the film series,” Cox says.
“And even if one doesn’t really have familiarity with that particular series, at its core, it’s just a story about growing up in school and the hardships that endure with trying to make friends and being the not-so-cool kid at school. And I think there’s a lot to relate to there.
“It’s a humourous evening with a lot of relatability and … there’s a huge heart. And that’s what we always champion with this show – that it’s got a big-old heart!”
PUFFS – SYDNEY SEASON DETAILS
Previews: Friday 17 May – Wednesday 22 May 2019
Season Dates: Thursday 23 May 2019 – Sunday 30 June 2019
Performances: Tuesdays – Fridays, 8.00pm; Saturdays 2.00pm* & 8.00pm; Sundays 1.00pm* & 5:30pm
Venue: Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney
Ticket bookings: Ticketek.com
Ticket Prices: All Previews $49.90; General Tickets from $69.90 plus booking fees
*Suitable for those aged 8 and above