Winter play ‘Puffs’ presented online Feb. 26, 27, and 28

Senior student director Erin Weiss is one of the few people who gets to watch the winter play live in the Watson Auditorium this year. Due to Covid restrictions, the play is being presented online this weekend. (Photo by Aly Trunzo)

By Jenna Marchuk & Andrea Smith, Entertainment Editors

This year’s Winter Play, “Puffs,” will not be performed live, but will instead be available to stream digitally, similar to the Fall Play. Unlike the Fall Play, however, the Winter Play presented unique production restrictions that prevented the play from being filmed like a movie, with many cuts. 

“The filming decision was two fold,” director Mr. Brennan Roach said. “One, we were contractually obligated to shoot the show as a play and not a film because of our agreement with the rights holder. Second, with the school year moving closer to full steam, there are a lot more active projects on the table for WMTH and the broadcasting classes, and it wouldn’t have been equitable to put such a massive undertaking on the table.” 

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many adaptations had to be made in order to safely film the play.

Along with masks, participants are practicing distancing both on and off stage. Additionally, crew members now must divide into smaller groups while completing projects in order to ensure safety. The necessary precautions have actually improved relationships, despite distance difficulties and requirements. 

“We have bonded together even more than normal,” junior construction head Adeline Bateman said. “We had less time to work on the set, so that meant more time helping each other get stuff together, and since there were smaller crews, we all became really close.” 

Social distancing challenges forced the cast and crew to be even more proactive than previous years.

“We had full cast zoom rehearsals throughout the adaptive pause for the two weeks after winter break,” senior student director Erin Weiss said. “We really wanted to get a head start so that we could jump right into rehearsing and deeper level works as soon as we get to be in-person.”

As a result of social distancing guidelines, it wasn’t just rehearsal that was affected; the process of completing the cast’s hair and makeup also changed dramatically. 

“Hair and makeup heads are working hard, as usual, to design concepts and looks for the cast, but they won’t actually be doing any of the hair and makeup,” Weiss said. “Each of the actors will be doing their own hair and makeup at home before the shows to avoid contact.”

“Puffs” follows Wayne, an English schoolboy who finds out he’s a wizard. Wayne is sorted into the Puffs, where he learns how to navigate the ways of being a wizard, and how to avoid the evils of wizardry. This play is a spinoff of Harry Potter, with similar characters. Many characters resemble Harry Potter characters such as Blondo Malfoy (Draco Malfoy), Bippy (Dobby), and more.

“I think a challenge about this show is meeting the pacing,” senior cast member Jodi Podolski, who plays Leanne, said. “The show runs 90 minutes and has to go through all 7 books. Something Mr. Roach kept reminding us was that magic is earned and under a time crunch, we all had to do a lot of our own work to meet the high expectations with our energy and commitment.” 

The production challenges presented in this new environment have expanded the actors’ performance skills.

 “It’s definitely a bit of a challenge acting with masks and distance but we’ve made it work,” junior Taylor Truckenbrod, who plays Sally Perks and Blondo Malfoy, said. “I’m used to it now and I think it’s just a different way to perform theatre.” 

Tickets can be purchased at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/45880. It is available to watch on Feb. 26, 27, and 28 and will no longer be available after 11:45 p.m. on Feb. 28. 

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