On August 19th, three members of the original cast of Puffs hung up their black-and-yellow scarves: Langston Belton (Oliver Rivers), AJ Ditty (the Narrator), and James Fouhey (Cedric/Mr. Voldy).
The three actors did extensive interviews with Hypable, where we discuss their thoughts on the play and their experience with the show.
Read on to find out Voldy’s favorite board games, what a play about Ravenclaws would look like, and where the Power Rangers fit into all this.
Irvin Khaytman (IK): The fan response to Puffs has been insane. What part of it has wowed you the most?
Langston Belton (LB): I think what surprised me is how many times people come back to see the show, and still find something new to enjoy or to see. Fortunately, we have all of our swings, who bring an entire new voice to the show, so that augments the entire show. People come back to see so many people playing all the roles, that there are different variations of the show possible. And people that have seen the show from the beginning, when it started as Improv Theater, they had seen different variations of the show. So they know the show is always changing and growing based on what’s happening in the world of wizards. So I think that’s been the most surprising thing, is how fans are willing to stick with this story in this universe we’ve created.
AJ Ditty (AJD): The first time that I knew the show would be a hit was the first time that The Group That Shall Not Be Named came to the PIT and bought out the house. Everyone was in costume. Back then, Ellie [Philips] used to come out as the Headmaster to do the [Deluminator] bit. When she walked out to do that, the audience went nuts. From the get-go, they were on board. That was the moment [I realized that] we actually have a hit on our hands.
I knew we had a great script, I knew we had a great cast, and this amazing design team. But a low of shows in New York have that, and they don’t go anywhere. But the minute the fans gave us their blessing, I knew we’d probably run forever.
It brings comfort to people of that particular fandom. If you take the quiz online and get sorted into [Hufflepuff], you have a source of pride now. People in the fan community had already sort of rallied behind [Hufflepuff]! But now there’s something you can point to and say: we have this awesome play that is ours, totally ours.
You don’t see the Smarts having a play, even though I’ve pitched one many times, and no one ever likes it! You put nine cats in wizard outfits, put them on stage [with] open books. The cats are reading the books for an hour and 20 minutes. At 1 hour 21 minutes, a body falls past the window, and they all look up, and they go back to reading as the lights dim. That’s the Smarts play and no one wants to produce it, mostly because cats are very hard to train, but I’m gonna fight for it!
James Fouhey (JF): The idea of people wanting to dress up as us. The Fathom Event was a crazy thing: the idea that this Off-Broadway show is going to be shown in theaters nationwide. And then to hear that people were dressing up, the idea of fan engagement with a theatre show across that many miles, I would not have imagined that. The other thing: the idea of seeing people after the show and talking to them, and they are seeing the theatre show after having seen the film.
IK: What’s been the reaction from those people?
JF: How excited they were! How they felt they had to see it after seeing the filmed [version]. You live all these states away and you see this, and you go “I need to see that live”? That blew me away the first time it happened, but then I started talking to more and more people, and that was why they were coming to see the show. That’s a crazy way to get introduced to a theatre show.
IK: What’s been your favorite experience with the show?
LB: I mean, it’s always fun meeting people after the show. I remember, early on at People’s Improv Theater, a guy came in cosplay as me, which was a trip… seeing people come in costume is always awesome. You know, people change outfits during the show. I think you’ve seen people come as different versions of the same actor in the show. The fan reaction, the fan creativity has always blown me away in terms of what they brought to the experience.
AJD: A handful of famous people have come to see the show over the course of it. [John O’Hurley], Mr. Peterman on Seinfeld, came to see the show. He really loved it, and was also like nine feet tall, and we got to take a picture with him. [Evanna Lynch] came to see the show, and she was so supportive and so wonderful.
The weirdest thing, I think, is every once in a while when people recognize you on the street. They’ll come up to you like, “Hey, were you in Puffs? You were great!” And they’re always so sweet.
JF: Talking to people after the show and having people tell us that they were having a bad day, and that they knew the show would cheer them up. [They’re] just coming and seeing it again, and buying another ticket for us to do that for them.
The Fathom Event was really cool. One of the things that’s really nice is that I get to stay with [Puffs] in a way. When the film is shown, I’m still there. I’m leaving, but a part of me’s staying, not just as a credit on my resume but as a thing that people might actually see. With all of us captured in that moment in time.
IK: What’s it like seeing yourself twenty feet tall on a screen during the Fathom Event?
LB: Stressful, but really cool, too. Like, I’m outside of myself watching myself, but that was incredible.
JF: I had a few weird takeaways. Overall, I was really happy with it. By the time we had done the Fathom Events, I’d been doing the show for more than a year. So it wasn’t like “I’ve got to get better before we film this thing!” So there’s a certain amount of relief in that, as long as it’s not worse than what we’ve been doing on average, we can put that out in the world.
That said, have you noticed how much taller I am than other members of the cast? It’s in part just casting – in a different cast, I would look less like a praying mantis. But that’s what I thought seeing it: “Oh no, he’s going to eat that child, with his long skinny arms!” Even the way I clap at the end – I’m like, I gotta stop clapping like that, with my arms like pincers! That’s what I thought, because I’m crazy.
I do the show with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, it’s funny to watch that in the film, and to think, “Wow, I could have made this easier, way back when we were rehearsing and I was making choices. I could have found a less high-energy way to do this, but this is what I went with.”
AJD: If I’m being honest, I was a little worried. James came up to me about a week before the premiere and said, “AJ, I’m a little worried.”
I said, “Why?”
He said, “AJ, we don’t make small choices.”
And I went, “Oh no! You’re right! We don’t.”
What I was actually very heartened by was how small everything ended up feeling. Everything that we thought would be too big, I didn’t really notice it on the big screen. If I’m being honest, the whole thing kind of happened at me. It was a very out-of-body experience because I was on the outside looking in. I noticed that I have like four hand gestures, and I go between them with alarming regularity.
Watching yourself is always a harrowing experience. What made the show so watchable on film was [that] I was so proud of how good everyone else was, that I had to think: either I’m the weak link here, or I’m overreacting. And if everybody else thinks they’re the weak link, and I know they’re not, then I think maybe it’s just that I can’t watch myself on screen. I don’t have the objectivity to do that.
It was a triumph for everyone in the cast and the creative team – because how often is a play filmed? It’s so humbling to be a part of it.
One of my great dreams from when I was a kid… when you’re reading play scripts, and it [says] “in the original cast…” and shows the names of the characters with your name. All I ever wanted was for that to happen. Never in a million years did I imagine that the first time that would happen would be in a [filmed] version of that play. That I would be sitting in an audience and seeing that list go up, and that it would be my name up there among so many other talented people.
IK: AJ, how do you collaborate with playwright Matt Cox on your character?
AJD: This process was so collaborative from the beginning. Matt was crafting these characters around us, he wrote the Narrator specifically for me. He could focus on the trio and the larger arc in the storytelling, and I could fill in the background and the little moments. I would come up with theories, and we would go out to the bar afterwards and I would tell him all these things. He’d be like, “Yeah, sounds good.” And then it would be part of my headcanon.
I hope my choices don’t trap future Narrators in that box. There are so many possibilities with this character.
IK: Have you discussed any of these headcanons with your replacement?
AJD: He noticed that at certain points in the show, I grab my velvet coat and crumple it in my hands a bit. And at the end of the show, I’m holding my cape in the same way. “Oh, so that’s the part of [the kid] that you put into the Narrator.” And I went, “Yeah, you’re gonna be fine.”
IK: Langston, unlike most of the cast, you were a muggle going into the show. What was it like, diving headfirst into this fandom?
LB: I’m big into other fandoms, so I understand there’s a universe, that people have a love for this universe. I think Oliver’s unique in the fact that he is also new to that world. So it’s kind of cool learning as I went along, almost as Oliver would, what the rules were. It’s been interesting to discover the ins and outs, the tropes, and all the internal jokes that everyone [in] this universe shares… whether it’s Ron being the worst of his family, or the Headmaster looking different. I’m still learning more about that universe even now.
IK: Are you actually good at math? Like Oliver?
LB: No, that’s all acting. I’m not a math person whatsoever. That’s the real acting, is being good in math or liking math.
IK: James, you’ve been with the show for two years, but you were also the first ever Puffs replacement (for Evan Maltby, who played Cedric at the PIT). How was it, joining the show as it transferred to the Elektra?
JF: When I went into that rehearsal room, it was like, this is a well-oiled machine! And this machine is not going to stop for me. I need to jump in and play my part, so that it doesn’t break down. They had to learn new blocking and new lines, but they were so confident in what they had before, they could make those changes quick. I’m learning it for the first time and just being struck by how talented they are.
There was a bit where Langston was told to get rid of the scroll that falls. And at first it was like “Maybe you can throw it and kick it and whatnot, like, find a way to get it off stage.” He took the scroll and wound it up, and threw it as hard as he could off stage. And it went nowhere, it just fell to the ground directly in front of him.
And then he went to kick it off stage – hard kick! It barely moved. He gives up – like, okay, that’s two attempts, screw it! He turns around and trips on the scroll that he just kicked. That happened real quick and I’m watching it in the moment that he trips on the scroll. It felt like he, the actor, tripped. It just happened to be coincidentally really funny. And immediately after, [I realized]: No, he just did that on purpose. He’s brilliant. I needed to make sure to step up my game so I don’t hold this thing back! It also was really fun, too, especially once I got the book out of my hand and was playing with them.
IK: How has your portrayal of the character evolved?
JF: The cast is actually friends, and if we weren’t as close as we are, I could not have lasted this long. Even though I already knew some people in the cast beforehand, I didn’t know everybody. For Cedric to come out and look at those people and think, “Okay, I’m here to help them, to encourage these folks, to pick up their spirits and show them a positive way of looking at things, and to make them believe with me that we can dream and we can achieve and all those things!” That got easier and easier. Even when I’m down and I’m tired, if I turn the corner and look at that group of people, it’s gotten easier to want to do that for them. That’s one of those things where your relationships with people help you be the character. Not all characters! But Cedric.
LB: One of the tenets in long form improvisation is “If this is true, what else is true?” If it is true that Oliver is a genius, and it’s also true that he is not from that world, then how might he react to things? Being that he is the smartest person in the room at all times, just in a thing that no one understands. And knowing he was supposed to go to the Mathematical Institute at Oxford, he probably is a good student. So you get the moments of finding out that he’s president of the Mug Studies club, so he’s been off meeting other people and finding his place in the school. So I think the portrayal’s evolved as I’ve understood more of what Oliver could be capable of.
AJD: Every time Matt writes a sequel play, I learn more about my character. I incorporate that into the play, so my character has only gotten deeper over time! The Craig thing is very interesting. [In 19 Years Later, the Narrator strikes up a friendship with Craig from Cursed Child.] For the Narrator, that is such an important relationship. He’s referenced in Puffs now: he’s my friend [with a] bathtub, and he’s also my happy thought in “Expecting an Expectation.” I scream “Craig!” twice, and that’s how I’m able to summon my magical animal friend.
Originally, I had this idea that this was a theatre troupe that the Narrator had gathered as a PR campaign for the Puffs. You’ve seen those big blockbuster movies from the Braves’ perspective, now I’m going to show you why the Puffs matter. Over time, especially with the addition of 19 Years Later, I realized that the reason the Narrator is telling the story is he’s trying to find something.
Before, I originally thought that the Wayne/Cedric scenes were made up, because there were no surviving witnesses to the scenes. So I thought the Narrator had crafted them to help make his point [about] why Puffs matter. It’s his fanfiction of what these two very important people in his life and his mythos would have said to each other. Once I found out that he could travel through time and that he had witnessed these scenes, it became more about the importance of delivering the truth of the events as they happened.
IK: Tell me about your character’s relationship to Cedric.
AJD: A lot of it was trying to unpack why Cedric meant so much to so many people. Since Wayne idolized Cedric, there had to have been something there. It’s the idea that [my character] didn’t really know much about being a Puff, and his research into that led to Cedric, who was the last notable Puff. He was the pride of the school. When he says, “Year 4, the Puffs and the year they mattered,” he means that. That’s where a lot of the importance on Cedric lies, because he really does represent the best of what the house has to offer.
When I first read the books, Cedric didn’t really jump out to me as a character; I wasn’t particularly saddened by his death. One of the beautiful things Puffs does is get to know him as a person and as a Puff. So when we do lose him, it’s all the more painful.
IK: AJ, how do you switch between the Narrator and playing a very convincing 11-year-old?
AJD: The reason why Matt wrote the role for me: the first show we did together was The Mysteries, a six-hour Bible play [that] was the theatrical equivalent of going to war. We were apostles together: I was Thomas and he was John. My character was very young and very innocent; he believed Jesus rode unicorns. Also in Mysteries, I played a doctor figure, who’s very rigid and stern and authoritative. [Matt] wanted to of capture the essence of both of those characters combined into one.
It’s just the physical mannerisms. When I was a kid, I was kind of an anxious wreck. I was always fidgeting, because I wanted to be a showman. What you see in the Narrator is this big [fanfare sound] jazz-handsy showman, so he had to start out as something the polar opposite. So for [the 11-year-old], I made him into this nervous ball of energy, who speaks very quietly and hasn’t discovered how to use his projecting voice. He’s just a kid looking for something to believe in.
When he sits down on that stool and puts the hat on his head, he asks the question that he’s always been too terrified to ask: Where do I belong? And then he gets his answer. That smile at the end, when he looks up, is a kid who’s found his purpose.
IK: It’s an absolutely perfect ending.
AJD: For that one moment, before the hat opens its mouth, it is just pure hope incarnate, which I think has been very important. Doing the show the last three years, living in a world where everything… isn’t great right now. [Having] a show that’s just like “Hey, the world may literally go to hell. In this scenario, you’ll see your friends die in front of you. But that doesn’t mean that at some point in the future, there isn’t hope.”
IK: What is your favorite part of the show?
AJD: There are so many, but I will always have a place in my heart for the Potions Master’s sex education class. Watching that bit develop over the years was really lovely. I’m a huge fan of the current incarnation, where no words are spoken except for that last line. It’s all visual. It’s so dumb, but so beautifully acted. The agony on Steve Stout’s face as he pulls out each one of those props… it’s a master class in prop work.
LB: When we come out, I say, “The headmaster looks different this year.” You can imagine the three of them hanging out, that they’ve been having this conversation walking through the halls.
And of course, coming and doing the mathemagic at the end, to help in the battle.
There’s so many fun moments, even just reacting to other things on stage with other people, which we’re always trying to find new ways to make fresh and interesting. Like some nonverbal communication to really get across the bond between all these students over there.
JF: My favorite thing to do is the megaphone bit, because I get to do a variety of choices. Matt gave me a few, and then a few more to pick from, and then I was like, “Matt, we do eight shows a week, and technically I only have six of these. I can’t do a different one every show. What about a few more?” And he wrote a few more. So I’ve had new lines to learn and play with.
Doing the show so long [as the same character] – without doing new lines in rehearsal, I can do them for a live audience as the character, and we can make it work. But to feel that confidence: I’ve been doing this so long, I know who this is. If you can give me a new line right now, I can say it in front of people for the first time, having said it to no one else but in my mind. And then to pull it off, that feels so good, which is part of why I begged him for more lines: because I love still getting that feeling even though it’s been two years.
IK: I loved your line, “Did anybody bring any board games?” What do you think are Voldemort’s favorite board games?
JF: It’d be awkward with him, but he’d be really good at Twister. That might be his secret favorite because he doesn’t know how to get close to people, but he wants to. He wants to be good at that, and he can’t do it, but that’s a game [where] “Look, here we all are!”
As a party game he’d love Truth or Dare because he’s not scared of anything. Well, a few things, but not with these people.
IK: I think he might be more scared of Truth than of Dare.
JF: But it might be exciting because he is able to tell when you’re lying. The fun in that game [is] to watch people squirm and be like, “I’ll know…”
Anything conquering the world, too. He’d probably cheat at Risk. But the general thrust of that game would appeal to him.
IK: Do you think he’d have the patience to play Life?
JF: No. Because you get to the end of it. And he’s never going to get to the end of his. He’d cut off that piece of the board. “Not for me!”
IK: He’d do the board game equivalent of the Refilling Charm and just keep playing forever.
JF: As he watches the others traipse off the end of it.
IK: What’s your favorite Easter egg in the show?
LB: During the dance at the ball, we do our dance, [then] our final pose. I’m a big carriers fan and I do the morph of the Power Rangers. That’s Oliver’s pose. As I imagined, Oliver (like me) would have been obsessed with that show, especially in 1995. So yeah, if this kid’s anything like me, he’s gonna love giant robots and stuff like that. There’s also a couple of pro wrestling easter eggs that I’ve thrown in there.
AJD: I love a lot of the prop stuff that Bundy came up with over the course of it. The depiction of the hat itself is one of the most brilliant masterstrokes in stagecraft, because that boils it down to its essence. Which is why it gets such a delighted reaction every night.
I love everything in Wayne’s book, which he prepares for Cedric. Some of them are pretty recent additions, like [Paddington] bear. We all saw those movies and were like, “Oh, this is the same sentiment- he’s such a Puff! So we have to put him somewhere in the play.” So Bundy went home and drew him into that book. I personally also really love the Dolock in that book. Simply because my Narrator is basically what I would do if I were ever cast as the Doctor. That’s given me an excuse to play the Doctor, which I will be forever grateful for.
JF: When Hannah says “I’ve heard it he can turn into a flowering shrub.” That’s real! Two years ago I reread the books, I got to that spot, like, oh my goodness! And of course that’s what [Hannah] would think of as a great way to hide… [she’s] projecting.
“Zach Smith came back to school.” I’d forgotten until I reread the books that he leaves, and the last time that you see him in the books, he’s pushing first years out of the way to leave the castle. And Matt has that line – see, we’re aware he left, but we are explaining [that] he came back. That’s the part you don’t know!
I love every reference to going to bed. There are some students who are perpetually breaking curfew – they are never asleep when they should be! And then you have a class of students where by and large, yes, it’s time to go to bed – well, they go to bed! And that might not seem strange unless you follow the other stories.
IK: What has been your favorite Zach Smith bit of all time?
JF: The last one we did at the Elektra. It’s so macabre, it took me by such surprise, watching it off stage. He’s making a corpse museum, because he’s starting to practice human taxidermy, and he takes a heart prop that he found, a red blood-gorged heart, and then he offers it to Wayne saying, “Hey, he was your friend right?” Oh my goodness.
AJD: My favorite will always be the last show we did at the Elektra. The graverobbing scene where he dug up the grave of Cedric Diggory, and gave Cedric’s literal heart to Wayne, was devastating. The fact that Zac [Moon] then had to hold that heart for the rest of the scene. The wails from the audience that time were magnificent. It felt like we were ripping out their hearts and throwing them on stage. That Zach Smith will live in infamy.
LB: We’re always sitting in the back listening to the controlled chaos that is Zach Smith. I gotta say it’s the 27 Dresses – it goes on and on and on and you’re wondering how it can stop, if it’s going to stop, and it’s great. Every moment of that is just Nick Carrillo just firing on all cylinders and having the audience in the palm of his hand. And the other performers on stage cannot keep a straight face because it was so funny, so detailed, and just so relentless. That one is just a magnum opus.
JF: At the Elektra, we couldn’t leave backstage unless we really had to. I would get to watch every night. And it’s some of the most pleasure that I derived from being in the show, getting to see all of Nick’s variations. And then to go home and tell my girlfriend, “This is what happened tonight!” Which became a ritual for us.
AJD: I love the Zach Smiths that kind of break the play a little bit. There was another one where he went up to Wayne and said that when he got his time traveling powers, “I saw your parents with those Chocolate Frogs, and I did nothing.” Zac Moon started crying on stage, just sobbing. So Jessie [Cannizzaro] had to go try, like, “Hey, wanna go on this date?” And this man was inconsolable.
Jennifer Buckets will always have a special place in my heart because that became an ongoing story. There was once a time when Jennifer Buckets became a doughnut. When we later went to the sex ed scene and Steve pulled out the doughnut, the audience went, “Jennifer!” I love the stuff that adds to what you’re about to see.
We always talk about what happens when high schools start doing Puffs, if there ever comes a day when the script is licensed. Just to have those YouTube medleys of Zach Smiths done by high schoolers.
IK: James, once you’re no longer in the show and doing the bathtub scene every night, what is the first thing you’re going to eat?
JF: Can I tell you something? I actually eat a lot of the things I want to eat already. I have told myself that I will go on a better diet after I leave the show. Because right now, I have this feeling: I work really hard. I deserve it. All of it, all the time.
There was a point, when we were first doing a show at the Elektra, I’d be like “Okay, I’m not going to eat a certain number of hours before the show. And maybe I’ll have like a protein bar, something that won’t take up much room in my stomach, but I’ll be able to have some energy to make it through this show.” It was just a terrible way to live, and not a way to perform. And there’s a point where I got comfortable: I exercise, I do this a bunch of times a week, it’s gonna be fine. It’s more about the character than it is about how I look. I am going to stuff my belly full every chance I get, regardless of how close to show time it is. I’ll be eating sometimes during the show. I like to have sweet treats for Voldy as a reward for making it past one of my character’s lives. I’ll be better in the future.
IK: What has being a part of Puffs meant to you?
LB: It’s been incredible. The idea that Matt wrote this show with our different talents and personalities in mind. It’s really tough to put into words how much it’s changed all of us, having a show and having it grow, having fans… “Whirlwind” is the perfect word for it.
JF: The response from fans meant a lot to me. It’s felt like this beautiful thing to put into the world. I really do think it’s something special that we share with everyone every night. The idea of good decent people who aren’t immediately marked as special, being still important in their own way, being a force for good in the world through perseverance and hard work and love of friendship. It’s not always the case that you can feel like everything about what you’re doing is something positive to put out there, but that’s how I’ve felt about this.
For me personally, as an actor, it’s been incredible to work on something for two years. Even if I didn’t love it, which I do, it would still be an incredible gift as an actor. The idea that the show is actually that good, that funny, that I get to go out there and people respond as vocally as they do, and are as touched as they are… it’s been incredible.
Artistically, I’ve never done something that many times. I don’t know when I’m gonna get a gift like that again, of being able to sink into a role that deeply, to merge with it that way. It’s something I’ve always wanted. As an actor, this has been a great opportunity for me to get to do the craft every night for people, and to get more comfortable and confident with what I do. It’s been a great opportunity to grow.
AJD: Everything, I guess. Puffs came at a very dark time in my life. I had gotten off of doing a job on a cruise ship for six months. I was vastly depressed. I went to a bar in Williamsburg with Zac Moon, he was the first person I ended up seeing after getting off the boat. I just shout-screamed at him for 45 minutes about my time there.
I was just so excited to be back. I started telling him my idea for a show called “The Puff.” It’s about that other house, and I wanted [him] to be in it. And Zac looks at me and says, “WHAT?”
I’m like, “Yeah, and the other characters in the books might make appearances.”
And he’s like, “Wait, did you talk to Matt?” I said no. And he said, “Because he wrote that play five months ago. He wrote a role for you and we’re doing a reading in two weeks. Did you not check your email?”
I checked my email and I saw an invite to do the reading, and I went, “Oh, thank god, I don’t have to write it. I just get to act!” He came up with the idea first, and he actually wrote the thing, but we came up with the idea separately. Which was kind of the sign, to me at least, that this was a show I needed to stick with as long as I possibly could. It was just weirdly kismet.
I found the outline I did for it the other day, and it is SO BAD. I didn’t understand the characters the way Matt did. I called it The Puff and he called it Puffs. I was so focused on the institution of the house, and he was focused from the get-go on the characters. I’m so glad I ended up going to that bar in Williamsburg, because if I hadn’t, I don’t think any of this would have ever happened.
I fundamentally think that doing Puffs has made me a better person. It wasn’t like I was a total asshole before doing it, but I feel like it’s made me kinder and more understanding. It’s certainly changed my view about making theatre and making art. After doing Puffs, I’ve learned that entertainment and stuff like this that challenges, that gets you connected by the heart, and can make you laugh and cry within the course of five minutes, is so vitally important. And can really help people through some really terrible times. All the feelings are better when they come together!
Every day since I’ve started doing the show, I’ve worn mismatched socks, just in life. I tried it for a while, and there’s something so wonderful about having the freedom to mix and match. It’s been my way of letting my inner Puff out. I think it was always in there, I was sort of… up in my Smart Tower, basically. It really took this play to break open the Puff inside. For that, I’m forever grateful.
I’m grateful for this whole thing, because it comes along so rarely, that a play runs this long and with this many talented people in the same room at the same time. It’s so rare and it’s such a gift. This thing was built because of the love of the community. We’d be lost without the fanbase.
IK: What’s next for you after Puffs?
JF: The whole rest of my life! And I have to say, it’s been so wonderful to do this show, I still enjoy doing it. A part of why I’m leaving is because I need to leave while that is still true. There are so many friendships and relationships that I would like to spend more time in. So I get to be around friends who aren’t working at my job, and spending time with my girlfriend… that enriching part of my life is a big, big thing.
A big part of my career is narrating audio books, doing voiceover work. I’ve had to really dial it back, so I’m looking forward to having my recording schedule not take such a toll on me in combination with the show.
I also have a podcast called Dragons, Sexy Robots, and Adventures that I’m really excited to be able to spend more time on. I produce it and I’m an occasional host. My two cohosts have taken on more and more of a load as I’ve continued to do the show, and I’m really looking forward to being back in. We’re going to go to PodCon in Seattle in January.
AJD: I wrote a musical, Suburban Nightmare. It’s what would happen if Rodgers & Hammerstein and Meatloaf collaborated on a musical about night terrors. It’s kind of like Footloose if Kevin Bacon were a werewolf. The music is by Travis Yablon (lead singer of Fat Heaven). He can write amazingly catchy songs, but he doesn’t know a lot about musical theatre, and I exclusively know about musical theatre and no other subject. This project is a cool middle point of both our sensibilities. Insomnium Theatre Company is producing it. We’re having a reading sometime in the fall.
I wrote a serialized play called B.B.’s Inferno, an adaptation of Dante’s Inferno [where] Dante is a 12-year-old girl whose sister dies in a car accident. She goes through all nine circles of Dante’s hell to get her back. That I wrote as a serial a while ago, and now I’m in the process of adapting it into a three-act play that I’m hoping to get up soon. I did the finale at the PIT in April last year, Jessie Cannizzarro was B.B. in it. She was magnificent.
LB: I’m currently working at Marvel Entertainment. I host Earth’s Mightiest Show on Marvel.com and their YouTube channel, as well as like do correspondent stuff. So I’ll be doing that, and taking steps back into the improv world that I took a break from due to Puffs. Going back to that community when I’ve just met this different community, and seeing how they overlap. There’s a lot of improvisers and improv, fans that have come up to me at shows and been like, “Oh, I love your shows here, I also saw you in Puffs. I recognize you!” That’s always great. When I was at San Diego Comic-Con, there were two young ladies that recognized me. They were like “We love you in Puffs!” I’m all the way out in San Diego, so it was nice.
IK: Any closing thoughts?
JF: I’ve never been a part of something artistically like this, professionally like this, that has blended friendship and the work and the love of the work at the same time, in the same way. I don’t know that that’s ever going to happen again, and not for this length of time. It’s something I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life. So many times in the last two years, I’m backstage [thinking], “Oh my goodness, this is my job. This is what I get to do for a living.” It’s a great blessing.
LB: I guess: Thank you. I’m sure we’re gonna be saying thank you a lot. But thank you to all the fans and to Matt Cox for writing this amazing show, and Kristin McCarthy-Parker for directing and Tilted Windmills for producing this show. And everyone that’s been in the cast of course, they’re my family, my brothers and sisters. It’s a really powerful thing to know that you’ve originated a character and that’ll always be there in perpetuity. So thank you, thank you to everyone that has made the show what it is today and hopefully what’s going to be going forward.
AJD: I have loved every minute of doing this play. I’m in the very unique position now of going from being a part of the original cast to becoming a fan. I can’t wait to see where it goes next. I’m just forever grateful.
Thanks to AJ, James, and Langston for doing this interview with us! We wish them happy trails. Now, you can see Reginald Keith Jackson as Oliver Rivers, Harry Waller as the Narrator, and Alex Haynes (who’s been a swing for the last year) as Cedric/Mr. Voldy. We can’t wait to see what they do with the roles! If you’re as excited as we are, buy tickets by going to the Puffs website.