Produced by Artistic Synergy of Baltimore, Puffs is a love story to the Harry Potter universe.
If you are a Harry Potter fan, you no doubt know the ins and outs of Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s seven years at Hogwarts. You know the professors at Hogwarts, the subjects they taught, and the battles they fought. However, you’ve likely only seen these details from the Gryffindors' point of view. What about the other four houses? What exactly were the students in Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin doing or thinking during the many fantastical events of Harry’s seven years there?
That’s the question Puffs hilariously attempts to answer. Puffs, written by Matt Cox, appeared off-Broadway at New World Stages in 2016 (after a sold-out run at the People’s Improv theatre from 2015-2016).
Its cast of characters includes much-loved Potter-world favorites such as Cedric Diggory, Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore, and even Harry and his friends. However, you’re seeing them in new and often hilarious ways. The play attempts to tell the story of “seven increasingly eventful years at a certain school of magic and magic.” As the books highlight, those sorted into Hufflepuff house are often the kindest and most sincere of students. They aren’t confrontational, and being “third or nothing” is fine by them. So exactly how do these sweet-tempered students react when evil invades Hogwarts?
Witnessing the actions of the books from another angle provides for a madcap 90 minutes. It’s also a love story to the Hogwarts universe. It’s full of tiny details sure to thrill even the most astute Potter fans. However, you don’t have to be a student of Hogwarts literature to enjoy it. It includes so many funny moments, it’s perfect for non-Potter fans as well.
In the time since its premiere, it’s been filmed live for BroadwayHD, creating a thrilling production that was shown on big screens across the country. After seeing it live in New York, I admit it was still just as much fun on the big screen. It never loses its humor or its heart. Though Puffs is still enjoying a run in New York, the producers recently released the rights to the script, allowing for community theatres around the country to produce it themselves.
As luck would have it, Baltimore is the home for one such theatre. Artistic Synergy of Baltimore (ASoB) was started in 2013 by six friends and actors whose previous theatre had just closed. As life-long theatre fans, they hoped to create a space for community theatre in Baltimore. Each season ASoB produces 4-6 shows – plays and musicals – often with a cabaret or two thrown in for good measure. Each production runs in the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rosedale. Many of the cast and crew have been around since its start, so attending their productions often feels like a family affair in the best way possible.
As well as being theatre fans, Melissa Broy Fortson (one of the ASoB founding members) and her sister Temple – as well as many of their friends and cast members – are die-hard Harry Potter fans.
The cast and crew of "Puffs" at their first rehearsal
As a proud member of the Hufflepuff house, and after hearing about the Puffs production in New York, there was no way Melissa was going to miss it. She “gathered some friends” to see what she had heard was “a very funny take on things from her house’s perspective.” Several of the group decided that they’d love to produce it someday with Artistic Synergy of Baltimore, but they never thought it would happen. After a third enjoyable trip, Melissa “knew if it ever became available, they were doing it!” When the rights were released for community theaters in November 2018 (Thanksgiving morning, which they took as a sign) the group got together to make their dream a reality. “It took MONTHS for things to finalize, but they are thrilled to be the first theater in Maryland to do the show.”
Because of their hard work, as well as their love for the theatre and Harry Potter, ASoB will be the only theatre in Baltimore producing Puffs this year. It’s a fabulous opportunity for the theatre and for our Baltimore community!
For one weekend only, July 12-14 (4 performances), Hogwarts will come to Baltimore. Under the direction of Melissa Broy Fortson (also appearing as the narrator and producing the show), a cast of Potter fans takes on this delightful ode to all things Hogwarts. (Theatre) magic and mayhem are sure to ensue.
Be sure to purchase your tickets early because this one-weekend-only event will disappear (or disapparate) on July 14.
For a preview of what’s sure to be a hit production, there will be a free reading of Lone Star at Ale Craft (319 South Main Street, Bel Air MD, 21014) on Sunday, June 23, 2019 (1-3 p.m.) followed by a sneak peek at Puffs after the initial reading. Stop by for some beer, theatre, and magic!
Puffs will run July 12 (8 p.m.), July 13 (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.) & July 14 (3 p.m.) at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (8212 Philadelphia Road, Rosedale MD, 21237). The matinee performances contain mild language and are appropriate for children 8 years and older. The evening performances contain strong language and are appropriate for children 13 years and older.
As an added bonus, the cast of Puffs will be magically reappearing August 24 at Street Lamp Productions (Valley View Drive, Rising Sun MD, 21911) for only two performances (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.), and then this delightful run will disappear forever.
Tickets for all performances can be purchased online.
Do you plan to go see it? Tell us in the comments!