Drama’s production of ‘Puffs’ did far better than third place



One of the strongest departments at Orcutt Academy High School has been the school’s Performing Arts program, which continues to blow audiences away every year. The drama class put on their production of ‘Puffs’ last weekend, and to say it was a success would be an understatement.

‘Puffs’ is a fast-paced comedic play that mirrors the story of the famous Harry Potter series. “It was Harry Potter’s birthday, and I was sitting there thinking,” starts Director Michael Shaw, “‘It would be really great to do a Harry Potter play; I wonder if there’s one that exists.’” Shaw then recalled how former drama student Alysa Harshbarger, mentioned ‘Puffs’ to him, and he decided he wanted to do it as the fall production.

Anyone who saw the play could probably confirm that it was one of the most technical shows OAHS has ever put on, as over 139 props were used, not to mention the constant costume changes and sound effects. “This is the year I expanded the backstage crew. I knew there was so much to do, and that we needed [more] people,” says Shaw. For ‘Puffs,’ there were two wardrobe supervisors, two prop supervisors, and two stage supervisors. Each branch had one manager and one assistant. In addition, a separate group of people took care of lighting, sound, advertising, sales, and microphones.

Sophomore Camila Gomez was named Stage Manager for this production. As swiftly as the show went, none of it was easy. “The hardest part was learning about other people’s jobs, and being able to help them do everything efficiently,” she says. With high stakes, Gomez was still able to enjoy herself. She says her favorite part about the whole show was hearing audiences laugh from backstage.

The outcome of this show was not what the company expected. “I thought it would be a show with smaller audiences,” Shaw says, “My hunch was that we would sell maybe 75% of the tickets.” Evidently, that wasn’t the case at all. Over $4,960 in tickets were sold, which occupied every seat in the house with an eager audience member. In fact, there was an instance in which people without tickets showed up begging for a seat, so six more chairs were brought in. “I wasn’t prepared to sell out as fast as we did. I was shocked,” Shaw shares.

According to viewers, and Mr. Shaw himself, the acting for this show was through the roof. “We had the strongest group of students on stage acting that we’ve had in a really long time,” Shaw inputs. Memorizing lines quickly was never an issue, even for lead actors with hundreds of lines. The lead role in ‘Puffs” was portrayed by senior Justin Roslinda as the dynamic character of Wayne Hopkins. Edella Westerfield, also a senior, played the dark-spirited Megan Jones. Wayne and Megan were two members of the show’s center trio. The third member was sophomore Matthew Santana as the nerdy Oliver Rivers, who brought much of the humor to the play. He took on a heavy role for someone making their theatre debut.

“Oliver and I are really similar,” says Santana, “so it wasn’t hard to understand him. I just had to reread the script a lot.” Believe it or not, Santana was pretty scared taking on this role. “I had a lot of stage fright before I joined drama, but I got over it,” he states.

“This show took a lot of time and practice,” Mr. Shaw says. At least once a week, Shaw would meet with one of the production supervisors for about two hours after school. They would talk about what the next step should be, what issues they needed to resolve, and how to further develop the project.

The actors for ‘Puffs’ learned how to be fearless and articulate on stage, while crew members learned organization and discipline. Collectively, over a thousand hours were put into the making of this show, and it’s safe to say it paid off. The OAHS Drama Company continues to shine, but it also needs to grow. With more students becoming interested in joining the class each year, maintenance becomes more and more demanding. If you would like to see the Drama class reach its full potential, you can donate by heading to their website at https://sites.google.com/orcutt-schools.net/oahs-drama/donations?authuser=0