Washington’s Production

Washington High School’s drama department began the 2022-23 school year with a production of Puffs. Differing from Kennedy and other schools in the area, Washington has historically produced a play within the first few weeks of the school year. Auditions are held before summer break and rehearsals start in early August instead of after school has begun. 

Washington Drama Director Kyle Woollums says this schedule is a perfect fit for his students.

“We find our little place in the crazy ‘before-school rush’,” said Woollums. “Students get some time to focus on drama without having to worry about school.”

[Puffs is] a lot of fun for the audience and it’s a lot of fun for the actors, it was a good fit for this year.

— Kyle Woollums

Due to the sheer amount of characters with few lines, actors played multiple characters and had to distinctly switch in the portrayal of roles. Instead of being a hindrance to the audience’s understanding of the story, the script made it into a self-aware joke. The comedic line delivery had the audience laughing from beginning to end and the unique depiction of the characters’ personalities was memorable.

“It’s nice when you have an audience that is really responsive to a piece. The students’ work really translated to the audience,” Woollums said.

The main cast did an exceptional job committing to their roles and keeping continuity between different performances, giving the play a professional feel. Background actors stayed true to their roles the whole time, adding to this effect. Risqué jokes were made without actors seeming nervous or breaking character, elevating this play above other high school productions. 

Despite the incredible acting, the undercasting mixed with the lack of set variety made the play hard to watch for someone who didn’t have a basic understanding of the plot. 

The play was put on in Washington’s ‘Little Theater’, a smaller theater outside of the main auditorium. While one would think the smaller space would make it easier to hear, this was not the case. Throughout the performance, actors failed to project lines loud enough for the audience to hear, making many already chaotic scenes confusing and impossible to understand without a general understanding of the plot of Harry Potter. 

Washington did a shortened version of the original play that should have been around the length of one act, maybe an hour and a half. Puffs opened with the narrator saying the play would be “90-ish minutes.” The off-broadway version of Puffs followed that time limit while Washington ignored it and ended the play at almost two and a half hours without an intermission. This length is longer than the original two-act play. 

“There was no way the play could be done in 90 minutes,” said Woollums. “You would have to go at a crazy fast pace.”

The seventh and final year in particular was 30 minutes on its own and filled with pointless fight scenes that added nothing to the play itself, dragging the audience along in an almost painful manner. 

Though they went over their intended time, the cast kept you entertained for most of the two and a half hours, and both times went to see the play I was surprised time passed so fast. Washington’s Puffs was clearly an exciting play for both the audience to watch and the actors to perform. The Washington Drama Department took a leap of faith in producing Puffs and it was well worth it, despite the sometimes confusing storyline. 

“I wanted to do a play that was expandable and also well known,” said Woollums “It’s a lot of fun for the audience and it’s a lot of fun for the actors, so we thought it was a good fit for this year.”