When the Bangor Mall played host last weekend to another massive local craft fair, one of the mall’s newest tenants, Some Theatre Company, decided to keep its doors open, even though no performance was going on at the time.
As thousands of attendees streamed through the mall, Some Theatre artistic director Elaine Bard and her crew of actors and artists not only sold merchandise and gave tours of their new theater space, but they also managed to sell more than half the tickets to their latest production, “Puffs (or, Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic),” which opens Thursday and runs through March 1.
As the name suggests, “Puffs” is inspired by the Harry Potter universe, though rather than focus on Harry, Ron and Hermione, it focuses on the other students at a certain wizarding school — the ones that aren’t destined to save the world, or even do anything particularly remarkable at all.
Regardless, they’re wizards and witches with a massive, obsessive fan base, and in addition to tickets, Some Theatre sold their own handmade wands and sorted mall-goers into “houses” with their own version of a sorting hat during the craft fair.
“When you’ve got a captive audience like that, you might as well try to get their attention,” Bard said. “We had to explain to a lot of them the fact that yes, this is a theater. They’d ask, ‘But where are you performing?’ And I’d say, ‘Right here. This is a theater. In a mall.’”
Last December, Some Theatre joined Ten Bucks Theatre Company as the Bangor Mall’s second theater tenants. Bard and her husband, technical director Gerry Bard, and other members of the company spent a whirlwind four weeks gutting the spot, the former location of Justice Clothing, next door to Furniture Mattress & More.
The space’s rapid transformation is remarkable. A floor-to-ceiling soundproof wall creates a front lobby with a ticketing and concessions area, and gives the actual theater a sense of privacy from the rest of the mall. Multiple rows of stacked seats rise up to a technical booth in the back, and the space is flexible enough for a number of different seating arrangements, including the ability to have shows partially in the round. It does not feel like you’re in a mall — it feels like you’re in a theater.
“Puffs” — a parody of the Harry Potter universe that never actually mentions the name of that world-famous wizard or his other fictional friends and foes (certainly not He Who Must Not Be Named), lest anyone incur the wrath of J.K. Rowling — last year completed a three-year off-Broadway run in New York. Some Theatre’s production is its Maine premiere.
“It’s really a hilarious show, and it was very, very popular in New York the whole time it ran there, and it fit really well with our whole aesthetic,” said Elaine Bard, who is directing the show. “People love these books and movies that we’re not allowed to mention, so it appeals to people beyond our usual fans. And we are always trying to get new people into the theater. That’s one of our big goals.”
“Puffs” kicks off a new year of shows for Some Theatre, which produces contemporary plays and musicals, often with a dark, edgy bent. Just six weeks after “Puffs” closes, “Heathers: The Musical,” based on the 1980s cult classic movie, will open, followed in May by psychological thriller “Veronica’s Room” and in July by a theatrical adaptation of the Shirley Jackson story “The Haunting of Hill House.” In the fall, the musical of “Jekyll & Hyde” is slated.
Tickets for “Puffs” are available online at stcmaine.org or in person at the theater box office. Check the Some Theatre Facebook page to make sure tickets are still available for a given show, as some performances are close to selling out.