Select Teenage Thespians Learn Spoof Techniques in “Puffs”
A few talented Lake Norman teenage high school and college thespians (or stage-struck wannabe’s) didn’t have to travel far for a chance to hoof it across a real stage this summer. On second thought, maybe they really did. Eleven young actors made the trek from the Davidson Community Players Armour Street Theatre boards to a magical castle in England to overcome an endless series of challenges in a Harry Potter spoof, Puffs, created out of improv by playwright Matt Cox.
Thanks to the well elocuted storyline delivered in detail by Elena Buffone as Narrator, the parody entails seven challenges over seven years taken in jest from J. K. Rowlings’ seven Harry Potter books (although the script doesn’t officially admit to that fact.)
Elena sets the rambunctious scenes over two acts for ten Puffs, her teenage colleagues who learn, rehearse, stage, and produce the play in a period of only two five-day weeks—weekends they’re allowed to be free. That’s the challenge of DCP’s Connie Company tS.3 creative Teen Summer Stock Series that gives the performers something edgy and creative to sink their teeth into. Bravo! What an interesting fête!
Each of the summer tS.3 participants are challenged to produce and perform two plays. A couple of weeks ago another troupe of select teens performed a play called Rent. The work is intense. Actors are not given their script until the first Monday morning. Subsequently they work intensely from morning to night rehearsing to produce their play.
Although playwright Matt Cox’s script is a bit too long—the challenges Puffs face are at times repetitious—the stagecraft delivered by Puffs eleven thespians, most of whom are new to the
Armour Street Theatre boards, is quite evident. Lindsay Pacci, for instance, who plays the roles of Cedric and Mr. Voldy could flop flat on his back, apparently without bruising his spine.
The professional hand of Puff’s director Emily Klingman resonates loud and clear. Emily, who teaches middle school theatre arts, has been directing and performing in plays throughout the area for quite a few years. She’s agile enough as an actor to take over a last-minute role in an unforeseen emergency condition. Emily understands, “the show must go on.”
Performers like Emma Wood as Leanne, Mattieann Suddreth as Sally Perks, and Sammy Knight as Susie Bones discovered the art of comedic timing, so essential in a play like Puffs. Jet Teasley as J. Finch Fletchley slithered around the stage in nearly every scene while Eric Guo as Wayne Hopkins and Hayes Russell as Oliver Rivers learned to bond and relax together, with clever assistance by the elusive Ariana Zappley who plays Megan Jones.
Student Puffs, including Lily Buffone as Hannah and Liam Graves as Ernie Mac, gleaned the art of wizardly from hints by the elusive weird mirror at the castle abroad, where hand puppets peeked around corners of brightly painted doors. It’s a wonder the cleverly appointed set didn’t fall apart—all four doors were continually slammed. Student Puffs didn’t just walk in and out, they were always on the run. An amazing array of interesting wigs were donned to change character moods. No mistaking, every word could easily be heard. Puffs performers’ delivery was intensely loud!
Besides Director Emily Klingman’s expertise, a round of applause goes to Technical Director Phil Rouse, who built the attractive set that was creatively painted by Stage Manager Allie Hildebran.
It may be interesting to see if any of the youthful actors return to audition for another production on DCPs stage. Obviously, they were having lot of fun in the comical production of Puffs!
Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active, founding member of Lake Norman Writers, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.