Tom Gunning moves at a fast pace.
He works by day in the finance department for Novartis Corporation in East Hanover. At night, he and his wife, Teresa, dash off to Bridgewater-Raritan High School’s auditorium.
It is there at the auditorium where the Bridgewater residents perform their magic in their roles as the directors of the Bridgewater-Raritan High School Theater Arts Department.
So, when Tom Gunning describes the current performance that they are directing as “one that I have never seen at this fast of a pace before,’' then you know how quick the student actors must practice and rehearse.
“It is madness how this moves so fast,’ Tom Gunning declared.
Tom is often hustling around the stage while directing the cast who are feverishly rehearsing to produce the second performance for the high school’s Theater Arts Department of the 2022-2023 school year----”Puffs.”
The production is scheduled for the high school’s auditorium from Friday, December 9 through Sunday, December 11. The performances on December 9 and 10 will go off at 7 p.m. while a matinee performance will be shown at 2 p.m. on December 11.
Tickets for general admission seating that are purchased before the date of the show are $6 for students and senior citizens and $12 for adults. Ticket prices for the day of the performance are $9 for students and senior citizens and $15 for adults.
Senior citizens who reside in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District will be admitted for free with proof of residency. And all Bridgewater-Raritan faculty and staff may attend the production for free if they show their school ID at the box office.
According to the website for Playbill, which is an American monthly magazine for theatergoers, “Puffs,” or “Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” and which is written by Matt Cox, is the story of a boy named Wayne Hopkins from New Mexico. He is a regular boy who finds out that he is a wizard and goes to school in England where he makes two best friends and has adventures. But Wayne is sorted as a Puff and he and the other Puffs simply want to learn how to be wizards and avoid attacks by evil wizards.
Dr. Laura Bassett, the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District’s Supervisor of Arts Education, is anxious to attend what is expected to be another stellar production for the high school.
“Looking forward to celebrating the effort and talent of our theater students in their fall production,” Dr. Bassett stated. “It’s sure to be a magical experience.”
“Puffs” is the second performance this school year at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
“Antigone Now” received rave reviews when that performance was held on October 7,8 and 9 in the auditorium.
The student cast of characters and staff, both Tom and Teresa soundly agree upon, are a joy to work with.
“We are so lucky to be able to work with so many gifted kids,” Teresa revealed. “They really put their best stuff out there."
Tom provided his take as well.
“You can’t lose when you have the combination of passion and talent,” he said. “Plus you have the drive and there is nothing better.”
Here are your cast of characters and staff who will proudly present you “Puffs.”
His or her character(s). Student’s name.
Narrator/Zack Smith. Grant Beck.
Wayne Hopkins. Derek Boxer.
Megan Jones. Sadie Brown.
Oliver Rivers. Tim Gaffney.
Mr. Potter. Ella Brotschul.
Cedric/Death Buddy. Louis Aponte.
Mr. Voldy/Uncle Dave/Professor Turbin/Viktor. Cameron Knauf.
Hannah/Professor Sprouty/Runes Teacher/Miss Babble. Suhani Patel.
Sally Perks/Rowena/Rita Scooter. Sidak Chahal.
J. Finch Fletchley/Hermeoone No. 3/Clumsy Longbottom. Matthew Pelc.
Susie Bones/Bippy/Hermeoone No. 2. Amalia Marquardt.
Ernie Mac/A Very Tall Man/2nd Headmaster/Real Mr. Moody. Ethan Xiong.
Xavia Jones/Frenchy. Fallon Billy.
Bagman/First Headmaster/Death Buddy. Arielle Bowie.
Professor McG/Myrtle/Blondo Malfoy. Sam Barnes.
Professor Lanny/Hermeoone No. 1/Colin/Death Buddy. Mattingly Niles.
Seamus/Professor Locky/Mr. Nick/Goyle. Ean Andrews.
A Certain Potions Teacher/Ghost History Teacher/Sal. Autumn Esler.
Leanne/Helga/Ginny. India Lu.
Staff positions. Student’s name.
Production Stage Manager. Evan Gilmurray.
Technical director. Meera Gharat.
Assistant Technical Director. Faith Ndichu.
Assistant Stage Manager. Matt Jimenez-Heymann.
Student Director. Julianne Maloney.
Properties Master. Erin Murphy
Assistant Properties Master. Samantha Pyne
Grant Beck, a sophomore in high school, wears two hats in the production. He is the Narrator and is also the character Zack Smith.
“I enjoy both roles, you are very involved and quite active,” Grant explained. “I feel that this show will be fantastic.”
Another high school sophomore, Julianne Maloney, serves as the Student Director after she had played character roles in past performances. She is pleased being both on and off stage.
“It is fun either as an actor or a director,” Julianne said. “My goal as a director is to make sure that the show is enjoyable for the actors, the crew and the audience.”
Before the students lace up their sneakers to run through what Tom called “a fast and exciting show that everyone will be entertained with,” the cast stands at attention on the front of the stage.
It is during this practice that leads off the rehearsals when Teresa recites “about 100 words” that the students respond in a British accent.
“Because the play is happening in England, all the actors need to have that British accent,” Tom said. “We do this routine before every rehearsal. They want to do this so well that some of them actually speak with a British accent during their school days. They really embrace it.”
Teresa summed up the attitude of this cast.
“They really want to be the best.”