Students working hard on spring drama production

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (April 5, 2024) – Looking for laughs?  You won’t want to miss the upcoming Loveland High School (LHS) Drama production of PUFFS April 11-13.

Sam Alarcon helps Paul Laufersweiler (with drill) working on set construction for PUFFS coming April 11-13 at LHS (Chuck Gibson)

A recent visit to the LHS auditorium found some cast and crew members (some adults too) working hard building the set pieces and designing set props as well. Among them wielding power tools instead of delivering his timely comedic lines was Paul Laufersweiler who is cast in the role of Wayne – the protagonist.

“He’s very much a nerd,” said Laufersweiler describing his character. “He has a similar background to Harry Potter; he’s an orphaned kid when he was really young, went to live with his uncle and finds out when he turns 11, he’s a wizard.”

Okay, it’s probably time to share a little of the story of PUFFS. The best (and safest) place to start is to describe it as a “spoof” of a familiar adventure story. 

An online search for the story of PUFFS, the play, will reveal this description of the show: “For seven years a certain boy wizard went to a certain Wizard School and conquered evil.”  This is NOT that. It is the story of the PUFFS. The PUFFS?  Well, they just happened to be at the same school. Apparently, they simply were not destined to be world-saving heroes. Anyway, the three main characters, including Wayne, will take you on a continuous journey of laughs and warm your heart along the way. Laufersweiler reveals a little more about Wayne for us.

Aaron Frazier, LHS freshman working on set building for PUFFS, the play. (Chuck Gibson)

“He’s set throughout the whole show that he’s going to be a hero,” he said. “He’s going to do this huge world-changing thing. The funny thing is, he never really does. He’s always second fiddle.”

Wayne really wants to do this great thing, but that’s his struggle, that’s the story of the PUFFS. They are not meant to be the heroes. They will entertain you with the laughs coming from their foiled attempts to do the great thing. Laufersweiler points to a poignant final scene where his character is lamenting never being the hero, but the headmaster of the school points out a great lesson about what he has done. (You have to go see the show to know what that is – you did not seriously think I’d spoil it, did you?)

Ava Van Buskirk (Susie Bones) and Sam Alarcon (Oliver) are among the students working here on props for PUFFS (Chuck Gibson)

“I think the show should be good,” Laufersweiler said. “It’s very fun. It’s kind of different from the other stuff I’ve done. It’s a change of pace. This show is very lighthearted.”

It is a small cast for this LHS Drama production. Senior Ava Van Buskirk plays one of the supporting roles as Susie Bones. It is a challenging role bringing comedy out of a character whose entire family is dead.

“Her main character trait is her whole family is dead,” said Van Buskirk. “It sounds really sad, but it’s more like comedic relief. She can be very droll – like she’s just there. The way she presents herself often is more comedic than upsetting.” 

We’re going to have to trust Ava on that. A favorite scene for her is when the trio of main characters focus on finding Wayne a girlfriend. Of course they pick Susie Bones. Again, without playing spoiler, the scene unravels the potential sad side of Susie – not much for girlfriend material one would think. For Ava, it provided an opportunity to stretch her acting ability.

“It’s really fun to just check-out of my real life and just freak out on stage,” she said. “I feel like I get to test my strengths as an actress.”

Van Buskirk likes the last scene too; calling it a bit chaotic and allows the entire ensemble together on-stage.

“I think it’s fun to see us all come together for that,” Van Buskirk said, “especially since we have worked together on the show for so long. Also, because it is a climactic moment for Wayne because you see him kind of reach his potential.”

Freshmen Caroline Smitt and Elizabeth Watts work on PUFFS show props (Chuck Gibson)

She’s very complimentary of the whole cast and the job they’ve done with the comedy. It was special to her seeing young people, like herself, working together living out their passion for theater. Van Buskirk believes it all adds up to a very entertaining show for the audience. You won’t see senior Sophie Eilert on the stage for this show, but she is another of the LHS students living her passion for theater as the Student Director for Puffs.

“It’s the untold story behind the story more commonly known,” said Eilert. “It’s about people who are unseen heroes and what their journey is.”

Like the students working to create this entertaining production, Eilert says the characters build friendships over time which are revealed in the show. The show does have just a hint of darkness.

“The second act gets a little dark,” she said. “It’s definitely a comedy.”

The audience will experience a lot of laughs. Speaking of experience, this role as Student Director is a new experience for Sophie Eilert whose previous drama experience has all been performing on stage. She’s spreading her wings a bit. So, what’s it been like for her?

“It’s been really cool,” Eilert said. “I think my favorite part is … I get to watch all my best friends do what they love and it’s fun to watch them.”

She’s working along side the faculty director Hannah Dietz which allows her the freedom to find the fun side of directing her peers. Eilert says the most fun has been seeing them learn to love their characters 

“A lot of lines are really silly,” said Eilert. “It’s been fun to watch everybody get into it and start to love what they’re doing. It just gets better every time.”

The cast is small, but everybody continues to work hard to bring it all together for the performances April 11-13 at the High School Auditorium. The performers carrying their characters into all the little details promises to make it fun and entertaining throughout the show. Then there’s junior Sam Alarcon who plays Oliver, the sidekick to Wayne (played by Paul Laufersweiler). The two have been friends for years and have been in bands together; show band, concert band, jazz band…they see a lot of each other.

“We’re kind of like a dynamic duo everywhere we go,” said Alarcon. “When we saw the casting, we thought this is kind of perfect. We already have chemistry. On stage, I’ll be thinking one thing and he’ll be thinking the same thing, and we’ll do it.”  

Their characters are both from America and both feel like outcasts. It gives them a special bond. A lot of little moments reveal the bond between the two. The comedy will just keep coming at you – “no really dull moments in the show” – Alarcon says. It is a fast-paced romp over about 90 minutes with something always happening.

“Even if one joke misses, there’s one right after that will hit,” Alarcon said. “It’s an entertaining show even if you don’t know the people on set. There’s a lot of irony and a lot of satire.”

Loveland High School Drama Presents: PUFFS

  • LHS Auditorium
  • Thursday-Saturday: April 11-13
  • Showtimes: 7 p.m. Thur-Sat & Saturday Matinee 2 p.m.

Get your tickets at:  https://lovelandhstheater.wixsite.com/lhsdrama/box-office

Read more from Loveland Beacon at: https://lovelandbeacon.com/