PUFFS—The Fall Play


Zoe Coric, Editor in Chief

“I think this is a really fun play that a lot of kids will connect to,” Ms Haberli, the performing arts teacher here at HHS, explained. “I think there’s a lot of silliness that happens on stage. There’s a dragon! An epic battle!” 

This year’s fall play is PUFFS—a magical retelling of a well-known story that takes place at a certain school of magic. It’s not about Potter, though. It centers around Meghan, Wayne and Oliver, who are all part of a group called the ‘Puffs.’ Puffs always come in fourth, both for their house cups and for the points for the school. Although there is the main trio, there is a whole cast of characters, and it’s their story. 

But how did Ms Haberli choose the play?

“I had watched it and thought hey that play was very funny and realized there was a highschool version of the script available for highschoolers,” Ms Haberli asserted.

She then found a “young wizards” version—the Broadway version had quite some language. This is also a commonly done show, which is part of Ms Haberli’s criteria for selecting a play. At first, it was intended to be last year’s play. But with the masks and the social distance, Ms Haberli chose to wait. Finally, she can execute her creative vision for the play this year. 

A lot of work goes into selecting and planning the play. Ms Haberli is constantly on the lookout for new plays. Usually, she dedicates two weeks in August to finding a play. There are multiple criteria for a play to be chosen. First, Ms Haberli has to like it, as she will have to direct it and develop her own vision for it. Additionally, the play should be something that highschoolers will connect to it. Lastly, the play should have many roles. There can be anywhere from 16 to 30 kids in a show. 

“I really believe there’s no small parts,” Ms. Haberli continued. 

A lot of prep work goes into this, also. Ms. Haberli has to make lists for props and costumes, and has to picture what the set will look like. Not to mention, she needs to cast the actors. This year, the actors are rehearsing almost every weekday, from 3:00 PM to 5:45 PM. 

These rehearsal times will only get longer and at Tech week, rehearsal times will hit 9:30,” explained Lana Waights, a senior who plays the narrator in the play. “Not only do we have to dedicate our time to rehearsal, but we also dedicate time outside of rehearsal to remember lines and blocking for the play. Right now I spend 20 minutes with a family member doing lines without the book as well as 20 to 40 minutes going through and remembering lines on my own. We dedicate so much time and effort to the play but we do it because we love it and I look forward to rehearsal every day.” 

And as it’s a big ensemble show, even characters with relatively small parts have to stay on stage a lot. This is a big time commitment, for everyone involved. 

It’s certainly nothing to take lightly, but honestly, I find when I’m there, time flies,” said Emily Caraglino, an upperclassman at Harrison High School, who plays Wayne. “And oh my God, I genuinely enjoy my time with the crew so much!

The crew is diverse. There are many freshmen that have joined, but also some actors and backstage crew with much experience. According to Ms. Haberli and multiple cast members, the community is very strong. This is in part due to the trust and friendship built during the daily ensemble-building games after the day’s warmup, such as ‘zip zap zop’ or ‘pass the clap’. 

Pretty swiftly, all of us found ourselves joking around, being able to laugh at the show and the experiences, and working well at acting together!” said Caraglino. “As an upperclassman now, along with attending more rehearsals, I feel somewhat responsible for helping unite the cast, but, honestly, we’re all pretty well connected.”

To get ready for the day’s practice, the cast does a physical, stretch, ‘getting centered’, and a vocal warmup, with tongue twisters. This is meant to get everyone ready and energized. 

Although Ms. Haberli prefers easier-to-stage plays, this year is more complicated. There are also many technical cues.  Ms. Haberli has already gotten a hold of licensed music and sound cues from the original productions. There are 47 scenes, and each scene will have at least one light cue. Some will have a lot more, including an epic battle that will take place towards the end.

“Please, see it, see it, see it! So much work is put into this production so quickly and, while I love the musical, the play usually gets overshadowed in the popularity department. November 4, 5 and 6, people! It’s J. Finch approved!” said Caraglino.