A look behind the curtain: GRHS’ production of “Puffs”


Photo Credit: Ben Raser

The cast of “Puffs” during curtain call. Christian Schwarzbeck (middle) played Wayne Hopkins, the main character in “Puffs.”

by Yethmie Goonatilleke and Cadia Warner

This past week, the GRHS auditorium, formerly known as a place where students with absent teachers complete classwork, transformed into a school of witchcraft and wizardry. With the whimsical Harry Potter soundtrack lingering in the background, the lights dimmed and the curtain rose, revealing a cast of students with cloaks and wands. 

“Puffs,” an original play by Matt Cox, delves into the world of Wayne Hopkins, a boy who attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after discovering that he is a wizard. If the story sounds familiar, it’s because it comically mirrors the famous story of Harry Potter— only this time, Wayne Hopkins is sorted into the Hufflepuff House and is more of your run-of-the-mill background character.

“Puffs” is a play catered to fans of “Harry Potter,” and coincidentally, many of the contributors behind the play are also avid fans of the popular book series and film franchise.

“We’ve been having so much fun with this show, more than any other show. I don’t know if it’s because we’re all such big fans, but the energy has been amazing,” says Director Christopher Barker, a local director who often works in conjunction with Glen Rock High School. He founded Saddle River Youth Theater, located in Allendale. “Puffs” marks the 430th consecutive production that he has directed. 

The extensive planning of GRHS’s production of “Puffs” dates back to last July, when Barker and the Glen Rock High School Theater Company discuss possible plays for the upcoming year. The theater company’s strengths lie in comedy, so “Puffs” perfectly complements their skillset. 

With supportive directorship, student leadership, and a phenomenal costume design team, the production of “Puffs” was a success that showcased the pure dedication of the theater company’s. As the production date approaches, the theater company often puts in hours of work, staying at the school until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.

Kira Joe, the Senior Director of “Puffs,” has had her eyes on this position since freshman year. Over the past few years, the role of Senior Director has been constantly changing; now, it entails working with Barker to choose the play, recruiting actors and middle school students, connecting the school with Barker’s theater, communicating with Dr. Parent, helping with ticket sales, and organizing hair and makeup behind the scenes. Senior Director wasn’t Joe’s only role, as she also took on the role of Leanne in “Puffs”. Joe commented on her high school acting career coming to an end: “It’s bittersweet…I had a really good experience and I’m ready to move on to different things. I definitely want to continue doing it [acting] in college, so it’s definitely not the end for me”.

A key part of any production is the wardrobe, as costume design brings characters to life. Senior Lila Storey, the assistant head of the costume department, shared: “you’re able to help elevate the performance of an actor into really becoming that character. It’s one thing if an actor is fantastic, and we have a lot of fantastic actors, but also being able to have the resources and ability to put them in a costume, really just drives the whole point home.” Whether it’s thrifting, shopping at a craft store or even hand sewing and curating pieces, the GRHS costumes department ensures a great time for both the cast and the audience.

We laughed, we cried, and we woke up the next day thinking it was all some crazy dream— “Puffs” was a lighthearted play that celebrates the dedication and hard work of the GRHS Theater Company.