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Performing Arts Series Strikes Gold Again: A Puff Piece

Hailey Briggs SWMT News:

The Bank of Commerce Performing Arts Series has been a highlight of this community for years, and the much anticipated production of Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic was no exception. The small auditorium on the University of Montana Western campus was the place to be on opening night, Friday, March 24. With only a handful of empty seats, those performing had to feel the pressure to deliver. And deliver, did they!



Upon entering the foyer of the auditorium, you were greeted by the cast and crew, already in-character. The concession stand provided some refreshments for the performance, as well as a bowl to place a slip of paper with your favorite flavor. (Although there were moments of crowd participation, don’t fear if you’re on the shyer side. The cast was good at integrating both spontaneity, as well as sticking to a fun, endearing script that had the crowd laughing nonstop.)


Although we’ve been awe-inspired by the set from plays of the past, never before has it been more apparent and impressive how the cast and crew utilized this smaller space to tell such a large story. Every nook and cranny were utilized in this production, thrusting the audience into a very immersive experience.


Whether you’re a true Potterhead, a casual viewer, or have never partaken of the original stories, there is something for you. This off Broadway script written by Matt Cox is so unique and witty that it envelops you on a journey through the seven school years. The familiarity of how real teenagers would view the experience of attending a wizard school touched on the basic humanity that might not have been relatable with the original wizard franchise. It was refreshing to see this other perspective, while being treated to easter eggs Harry Potter fans didn’t see coming.



Usually with lengthier plays like this, there are one or two breakthrough stars. However, this production illuminated the power of a phenomenal ensemble cast. No one character or actor stood out from the rest, as they were all very memorable and held their own on stage. The talent really shone through with the plethora of characters, as well as the different roles for each actor. One might think that would get confusing, but the little nuances and quarks of the differing characters really helped move the storyline forward without any distractions.


The story and the performance, while entertainingly hilarious, had a lot of heart when all was said and done. The message of unlikely heroes rising to the occasion bridges the gap between reality and fantasy, and the narrator’s guided messages throughout the entirety of the play really catapulted this performance into something that will live in your mind long after you leave.


So, if you’re looking for a fun-filled few hours, there’s no better option than Puffs, showing now through April 2 at the small auditorium on UMW campus. Showtimes are Wednesday-Saturday with 7:30 pm shows, as well as a matinee on Sunday at 2:30 pm. You won’t be sorry!



Cast:

  • Cedric/Mr. Voldy Faith Aflleje

  • Hannah/Others Melissa Bell

  • Wayne Hopkins Damian Cable

  • Oliver Rivers Cade Field

  • Sally Perks/Others Adeline Michels

  • Megan Jones Beatrice Penn

  • Narrator Katelyn Peterson

  • Helga/Others Kaleigh Phipps

  • Earnie Mac/Others Ezra Preston

  • Leanne/Others Kendel Puccinelli

  • J. Finch Fletchley Mason Semmier

  • Susie Bones/Others Sara Stevenson

  • Bippy The House Elf On 3/24/2023 Lara Wright


Voice Overs:

  • Sorter Hat Matt Allen

  • Sports Announcer Michael Feuling

  • Mr. Bagman Brian Elliott

  • Groovy DJ Randy Johnson


Creative Team:

  • Director Stephen Alan Seder

  • Stage Manager Adeline Michels

  • Asst. Stage Manager Kaleigh Phipps

  • Technical Director Daniel Chapman

  • Production Manager Stephen Alan Seder

  • Scenic Designer Daniel Chapman

  • Master Carpenter Eliza Bent

  • Prop Master Ivory Terry

  • Prop Artisans Katelynn Peterson, Faith Aflleje

  • Charge Artist Beatrice Penn, Faith Aflleje

  • Lighting Designer Alexis Cannon

  • Asst. Lighting Designer Emily Hoy

  • Sound Designer Stephen Alan Seder

  • Asst. Sound Designer Emily Hoy

  • Media Designer Mason Semmler

  • Costume Designer Katelynn Peterson

  • Asst. Costume Designers Ivory Terry, Faith Aflleje

  • Quick Change Asst. Kate Touhy


Puppet Builders:

Faith Aflleje, Melissa Bell, Damian Cable, Cade Field, Adeline Michels, Beatrice Penn, Katelynn Peterson, Kaleigh Phipps, Ezra Preston, Kendel Puccinelli, Mason Semmler, Sara Stevenson, Ivory Terry


Event Staff:

Faith Aflleje, Eliza Bent, Alexis Cannon, Emily Hoy, Adeline Michels, Katelynn Peterson, Miranda Rhodes, Ivory Terry


Production Crew:

Dylan Cowell, Kenslee Jory, Kyrie Kensey, Kendel Puccinelli, Katlyn Schulte


Board Operators:

Alexis Cannon, Emily Hoy


Marketing And Publicity:

Stephen Alan Seder












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