No matter what House you identify with, Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic is a must-see for any Harry Potter fan. While it pays homage to the original books and movies, Puffs is a completely new story that shines a spotlight on the often overlooked house. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be delighted by all the references. Following a sold out run at The Pit, Puffs is now playing Off Broadway at the Elektra Theatre.
Puffs features a stellar cast, many of whom juggle multiple roles in the show. Zac Moon plays the central character Wayne, an ordinary boy who finds himself placed in extraordinary circumstances. I am a big fan of Puffs, so I was happy to sit down with Zac to discuss how the show came to be and what goes on behind the scenes.
Serena: What can you tell us about your background in theater? How did you get started?
Zac: I was kind of doomed from an early age because my dad was an actor and director. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He worked for a theater there and then in Barksdale, so I grew up on staging shows and seeing shows and so forth early on. Then I went to UNC at Chapel Hill – good times – and majored in dramatic arts and media production there. I did a lot of stuff in theater, from acting to producing to directing, so sort of just got all around and that was it. I never really felt like I had any other options. It was just always the thing I wanted to do.
S: Were you performing as a child, or not until you got to college?
Z: In high school I was in every show. We did two shows a year, and I was in every one of them. I think I remember doing a production of Pandora’s Box when I was in elementary school and I forget what I played, but it was something ridiculous. I think I was the rock.
S: Did you see any Broadway shows when you were younger?
Z: I did. I always had family here [in NYC] so we actually would come up for Christmas and stuff. Lion King as a kid way back in the day, 42nd Street and a bunch of [other] shows growing up.
S: When did you first hear about Puffs and how did you get involved?
Z: Well, Matt [Cox] and I worked together for free for a couple of years and a lot of us all came out of there. By the time Matt was working on Kapow-i GoGo, he and I had been good friends for a long time. He came over to me and said, “I was thinking about writing a show and I want to give you the lead.” I am like, “okay, I will be there.” He told me the idea and I was like, “I am hooked, that sounds amazing, I am in.”
S: Was there any collaboration on your part, or was it all his ideas?
Z: For the most part it was all Matt’s ideas, but we all worked together for so long that as soon as we got in the rehearsal room, there was a lot of, “Here are more jokes” or “Here are other things we can do” – especially since we had the source material to pool from that a lot of us were very familiar with. I was like “Where can we add the giant squid in?” which is how it got into the pre-show and that was the only place, but I will take it.
S: Were you a Harry Potter fan before this?
Z: I was, yes. Definitely grew up on it and really loved it – I don’t have cable now but any time I am around cable and the movies are on, you can bet that’s what I am watching for the next however long the marathon lasts.
S: What did you think about Harry after hearing the other side of the story? Do you like him more or less?
Z: Oh, it’s funny. I mean I just reread the books again a few months ago when I was re-amping up for this and it’s funny. Our version of Harry is a very specific view of him, which is maybe not in the best light.
S: For people who haven’t seen Puffs yet – you have a twist on the character of Harry. I don’t want to give it away…
Z: Yes definitely. No spoilers but – rereading it, Harry is just so charming, so endearing – especially as someone growing up and reading those books. I think the reason so many people like it so much, you can identify with that person and the everyday struggles, but also he has these fantastic things he has to deal with that are like, unimaginable to me, dealing with something like that. There is this part of me inside that really wants to be the person that can deal with something like that. I think it brings out the best in you to be able to like be “no, I want to face those challenges head on and deal with it this way.”
S: So Puffs didn’t spoil the books for you?
Z: No, not at all. If anything, I like it so much more now. The whole series, coming back and reading it and especially finding little points. You know, I think one of my favorite things that happened happens in Year One in our show is what we call the Panic Club and all the trolls. It stems from one sentence in the book where Harry passes a group of con