The stars of PUFFS, including Zac Moon, (center) and Troy High grad Andrea Miller (second from right) brandish their wands. photos courtesy of Lloyd Mulvey

The stars of PUFFS, including Zac Moon, (center) and Troy High grad Andrea Miller (second from right) brandish their wands. (photo courtesy of Lloyd Mulvey)

She’s no Muggle.

And as a matter of fact — contractually and legally — she has nothing to do with Harry Potter. But Troy High alum Andrea Miller stars in a new Off-Broadway play, PUFFS, about “a group of young wizards going to school at the same time as a certain famous boy wizard. It takes place over the same seven years and shows what it was like for the house that has never been brave, ambitious, or smart,” Andrea explained. 

Confused? There’s probably a spell for that. But apart from using magic, here’s how the PUFFS press release tells it.

“Some people are born with the capacity to do great things. Some people change the world. Some people rise from humble beginnings to defeat the forces of darkness in the face of insurmountable odds. PUFFS is the story of the people who sit in class next to those people.”

Andrea Miller graduated from Troy High in 2008 and the character she plays in PUFFS “was actually written with me in mind, so Leanne and I are very similar. We are both very high energy, easily excitable, and a little bit weird,” she told School Life Troy.

Andrea Miller in her role as Helga.

Andrea Miller in her role as Helga. (photo courtesy of Lloyd Mulvey)

She doesn’t just play one character, though. “There are 11 actors in the show playing all of the characters in the world, so we all play multiple parts. My main character is Leanne, but I also get to play Ginny, Frenchy, and Helga.”

A few of those names don’t sound familiar, at least from a Potter standpoint. But Frenchy? Wasn’t she in Grease? By the way, Harry — that certain boy wizard — is played by a  20-something woman, Madeline Bundy. Usually Harry annoys the main characters and just gets in their way.

There’s a great backstory to PUFFS. Andrea explained, “Our original run was at The People’s Improv Theatre (PIT) and was only supposed to last for a month. We sold out all of the shows so they extended us for another month, and then another and another. Eventually the right people came to see it and now we are transferring to Off-Broadway! We are moving to the Elektra theater at 43rd and 8th, right in the middle of everything.”

Matt Cox, the playwright, is the author of another fun play called Kapow-i GoGo. Kristin McCarthy Parker directs the show and her recent credits include Hold On To Your Butts, Fly You Fools and Three Day Hangover’s Dracula.

Andrea, or as she’s known on the stage “Andy Miller,” shared her own backstory.

“I took Theatre classes and was in most of the Troy Theatre Ensemble (TTE) productions while I was there. But when I first started at MSU, I was majoring in molecular biology.”

Let’s just pause there for a second. Molecular biology may be the furthest thing from acting, but if you Google “molecular biology  magic” you get almost a million hits.

Okay, sorry, please continue Andy.

“I went to the MSU Theatre department open house just to see what it was all about and I fell in love. I remember calling my mom in tears because I was so upset at the idea of not acting anymore.”

So molecular biology gave way to acting.

It wasn’t always easy for Andy. “This business is hard work. It’s hard physically, emotionally and financially. If you are interested in this career path, you have to be willing to wake up every morning and work, because there is no single clear path to success, but it  can be so rewarding!”

She comes from an acting family. “I have two brothers and they both did shows at Troy High.” 

Indeed, Eric (class of 2010) played Tony in West Side Story among many other roles. Kevin (class of 2013) played Curly in Oklahoma and multiple other parts as well.

The family — along with their mother, Cheryl, who was TTE house manager for years — are theatre royalty at Troy High.

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-12-26-52-pm“Eric recently moved to NYC  to pursue acting. I love having some family so close. He is studying improv at the PIT, where Puffs debuted, and I’ve seen him perform a few times,” Andy said.

Then the trash talk began, “He’s not as funny as me yet, but he’s getting there … Eric, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding. You’ll never be as good as me.”

Kids, don’t make us turn this car around!

img_3530-wayne-zac-moon-arrives-at-school-with-nick-carillo-and-andy-miler

In a scene from PUFFS, Zac Moon (center) arrives at wizarding school with Nick Carillo (left) and Andy Miler (right).  (photo courtesy of Lloyd Mulvey)

“Kevin is at U of M getting a degree in some sort of science,” Andy continued, “which is good because one of us has to  make some money or my dad will have a heart attack.”

Her father Greg’s imaginary heart problems aside, Andy loves what she does. And yes, when she’s on stage, she creates magic. “Oh I definitely believe in magic! I was in a show last year where I had to fling a cardboard basketball at a hoop and miss horribly.  One night it miraculously went in and the audience went crazy. It was pretty magical!”

PUFFS, or as it’s also known: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic, will be performed on Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 9:30 PM and Saturdays at 9:30 PM. Previews begin on Thursday, September 29. Opening night is Thursday, October 20 and the limited engagement runs through Friday, December 30. Andy concluded, “PUFFS is really goofy and over the top, but by then end of the show, you really feel for these characters. They are outsiders who don’t really know where they belong in the world and I think everyone can relate to that in some way.”

The show is at The Elektra Theater, 300 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036.

Tickets cost $40 – $50 with $75 premium seats available.

If you plan on being in New York any time soon, you can get tickets at puffstheplay.com

Here’s a little more about the play from their press release, just in case you have the time and feel like hopping on your broomstick:

“Meet Wayne, a very average boy from New Mexico, who finds out he is a wizard … also, wizards are real. Join him and his new friends as they try to keep their heads down and get a basic wizarding education while a certain other famous boy with a very peculiarly shaped scar on his forehead sets out to make life at school increasingly …  eventful.”