Game of Thrones just started, Wonder Woman is out, and The Doctor is officially a woman. How much more fandom news can a Nerdophile take? Well, in New York City, there’s a piece of theatre that’s made it’s name as a hilarious romp through a magical world. 

Puffs Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School Of Magic And Magic has been a hit everywhere it’s played. It started with a sold-out run at the Peoples Improv Theatre in 2015, then moved into the Off-Broadway Elektra Theatre in 2016. In it’s latest move, Puffs is officially transferring to New World Stages this month.

For those who are theatre nerds, as well as Potterheads, this is a HUGE deal. Shows at New World Stages have gone on to Broadway and to become Tony Winners. Just Google Avenue Q and you’ll see what I mean. Did I also mention that it’s a great show? I’ve seen it three times, and it never ever fails to disappoint. 

Before Puffs launches into the stratosphere, I got a chance to interview writer Matt Cox, and actors Langston Belton (Oliver) and Julie Ann Earls (Megan). 


How long have you been a Potterhead? 

I found the first book whilst browsing my elementary school’s library when I was in (I believe) second grade. We had a program with something called “AR points,” I don’t remember what it stood for, I assume the R stood for reading, but you would read a book and take a quiz, and get points that would accumulate over the year. Then you got to spend the points at something called a book fair. I believe the third book was just coming out when I found it. 

I immediately loved and connected with the series, and starting with the fourth book bought them at midnight releases, and then would spend the next two days in my room devouring the books, which lead to many weird back feelings as I laid in my bed for far too many hours. (And re-reading them quite a bit throughout the years.) 

I was of that lucky age that grew up right alongside Harry. As the books aged up, I aged up alongside them (and Harry), and so they continued to stay relevant to my interests and life. I also was just a Fantasy/ Sci-fi nerd, and so to have a series with wizards in it be such a big part of pop culture was very exciting. 

Even as the books/movies finished, and it wasn’t quite at the forefront of my mind anymore, the series was still very influential to me in terms of the stories I like, (and the kind I ultimately started to tell on my own!) ones that sort of age up and become far more dramatic as they go along.  

What House are you? 

I am proud to say I am a Puff. Both self-diagnosed, and also internet-diagnosed.  

Which is your favorite book? 

I’ve always loved the fourth book. There’s just so much to it that changes the “game” of the series. The norm is shaken up. The event of the tournament was so fun. The ending was thrilling to read the first time. The darker tone raised the stakes so much, propelled the series forward and kept me coming back to the books over and over. However, when I did my big re-read before writing the play I was struck with how much I enjoyed the third and the fifth books. So, really. I don’t know. Probably the fourth still. But they are all pretty good. 

What inspired this story? 

I was sitting on a train thinking about what to work on next, and my mind drifted to the books. I had a funny little thought of “Man, it really must have sucked to be the other kids at that particular magic school during those seven years.”

After that it was a quick jump to “Well if there’s going to be a story about the other kids suffering through wizard school for seven years, obviously it should be about the ‘Puffs’”, who society and lots of modern pop culture has handed the short straw to. 

I always drift toward underdog stories. People being thrust into dramatic journeys who have no business being a part of the stories. Hilarity and heart tend to ensue, and those are the kinds of things I like to write. The Puffs’ story was a perfect fit. 

Also it was a lot of fun to weave in and out of Harry’s story, and play around with his own epic tale from another viewpoint. 

Which character was your favorite to write for in “Puffs”? 

The character of Wayne, our Puff protagonist, has a lot of myself in him. Various feelings from my own adolescence, and lots of references to the things I liked as a kid (like the Mighty Ducks) are all over the script.  So that was a lot of fun, and therapeutic in a way!

However, the year four character Viktor has my favorite set of really, really stupid jokes. Spoiler: All of his lines are from “Rocky IV.” I think this is funny. Not sure if others do. But I do.  

Do you write fan-fiction? 

I do not. Although once upon a time I did dabble in some “fan-fiction” type writing that took place in the world of the video game Fable. Those are lost and gone forever though. I assume. 

Puffs is a fun bridge of play/fan fiction/parody/comedy story as it certainly has fan fiction elements, but has a lot of it’s own thing going on, while holding dear the themes and ideals of the original series.  

Are there any other fandoms you belong to? 

Oh, yes. I am a huge “Star Wars” fan. “Game of Thrones.” “Lord of the Rings.” I worked at a comic book store in Times Square for four years, so I’ve been through my Marvel/ DC phases. (I currently love the Image book “Saga”) I play D&D every once in a while. I have a Nintendo Switch and an Xbox One. Dragon Ball. I really like the show ReBoot.  I like lots of things. 

How are you feeling about the success of “Puffs”? 

Constantly surprised, amazed, excited and all the emotions like that. The show originally was only set to run for 5 performances in December of 2015. We thought it might get one extension but could never have anticipated the success the show has found. 

The fandom has embraced “Puffs” in such a wonderful way that is very exciting. People have seen the show nearly 10 times at this point. This is who the show was always designed to please, and I’m so happy that people have responded to it in that way. It really is amazing. 

When is your “Cursed Child” parody returning? 

Hopefully very soon into the New World Stages run, alongside its sister play “Dude, Where’s My Fantastic Beast?” slightly based on everyone’s favorite non-prequel prequel. Both plays weirdly open up parts of “Puffs”, so I’m excited for more people to see these very strange fun side plays.

Langston Belton, Julie Ann Earls,Zac Moon (L-R) PC: Hunter Canning


Were you Harry Potter fans before the show got started? 

I must admit I was not a fan before I joined Puffs. I was just into other things and it was kind of off of my radar. I had tons of friends who are diehard Potter fans.

How did you become involved in “Puffs”? 

I met Matt Cox (the writer of “Puffs”) while performing at The People’s Improv Theater in New York. A team I was on was paired with a show of his “Kapow-i GoGo.” We all met and shared the same interests and got along really well. Next thing I know I was performing in “Kapow-I” and then got the call from Matt to play Oliver in a reading of his new play. That play was “Puffs” and here we are.  

Did you get much input into your characters during the creation of the show? 

The great thing about our director Kristin McCarthy Parker is that she very much encouraged the actors to embrace the natural discoveries that would happen during rehearsal. We were given the chance to improvise and play and many of those lines and moments made their way into the show so there was a lot of input.

Have you been surprised by fan reactions? 

The reaction has been incredible. People are coming to the show dressed as our characters, sending in fan art, and actually making gifts for the cast!! I was not surprised by the love people have for the Potter universe but I’ve been blown away by how people have embraced this show and are coming back again and again to see our story.  

What House are you? 

Well I was first sorted into Snakes and was resorted in Braves which seems like a better fit.  

Is there a fandom that you belong to?

I’m a massive comic book, video game, and film guy but my main fandom is the wonderful world of Pro-wrestling. I’ve loved it all my life and I can’t never get enough.

Langston Belton, Julie Ann Earls (L-R) PC: Hunter Canning


Were you a Harry Potter fan before the show got started? 

Yes! I was. I read the books growing up and I think I went to at least one book release event at a local bookstore. Seeing the movies in theaters were always a fun experience and I look forward to re-watching them every holiday season … they are such a comfort. I then reread them as an adult when we starting working on “Puffs” and that was really fascinating. The fourth book used to be my favorite but the seventh book became my favorite as an adult. 

How did you become involved in “Puffs”? 

 I became involved in “Puffs” mainly through the playwright, Matt Cox. We did a 5 and half hour show together at the Flea Theater called The Mysteries. We still remained friends after the show closed and I always admired his work. He wrote another play before “Puffs” called “Kapow-i GoGo” which I loved. It was pure theater magic with cardboard cutout fireballs and duck tape swords. I watched it and thought “man! I hope I get to be in one of Matt’s shows!” Sure enough, he then wrote “Puffs” and invited me to read the part of Megan at its first reading. Megan has been my part ever since. 

Did you get much input into your characters during the creation of the show?

Yes, I’d say so. The whole show has very much been a team effort. I mean, Megan is Matt’s creation but I felt safe in the rehearsal room to share my thoughts on some things. Megan avoids anything Puff-like for a good bit, so a lot of rehearsal was me saying “I don’t think Megan would do that… can she do this?”

Have you been surprised by fan reactions? 

YES! I don’t know if any of us expected this little scrappy show of ours was going to have such diehard fans like we do. There have been people who see the show cosplaying as our characters! There have been young girls who specifically seek out Megan at the stage door! I also run the “Puffs” Snapchat and many fans will message me very sweet comments on their love for the show. We really have a Puff community at this point. (Follow @puffstheplay on Snapchat!)

What House are you? 


Is there a fandom that you belong to? 

Actually, during the making of “Puffs”, Matt found out that I had never seen “Lord of the Rings,” “Star Wars” or “Game of Thrones.” We watched all of these over the course of a year, I’d say. I now have an intro to all of these fandoms, but I guess you can say I get most excited about GoT. #winteriscoming

Puffs is playing now through
January 14th at New World Stages 
340 West 50th Street
(between 8th & 9th Aves.)

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