A classically-trained singer turned theatre producer with ties to Bendigo, Luke Gallagher, has helped to bring a show inspired by a certain boy wizard to Australia.
Live theatre show Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic opened at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda on May 31.
The play is inspired by a certain school of magic from a certain book series about a boy wizard.
Born and raised in Bendigo, Gallagher – a creative producer at TEG Live and Life Like Touring – helped write the business case to bring the American show to Australia.
“We are a production company that produces a lot of family entertainment shows,” he said.
“The first production Puffs has been running for three years and is a huge hit in New York. Some of our members went to see it and thought we’ve got to do this.
“So we put a business case together to bring it here. The people upstairs loved what they saw in the case, green lit the show and we started the job of bringing it here.”
But before he was bringing successful productions to Australia, Gallagher was a Catholic College Bendigo student who sang with the Bendigo Youth Choir.
“My parents are still there and I was a member of the choir under Valerie Broad who was a real mentor,” he said.
“I’m still so thankful for the training I received. It put me in good stead and there is some stuff you learn when you are 10 in a youth choir that never leaves you.”
As well as singing, Gallagher performed in Bendigo productions of the Sound of Music, Little Shop of Horrors and Hans Christian Anderson.
At age 18, he finished school and moved to Melbourne to study drama.
During his career he has performed with the Victorian State Opera and Opera Australia.
“Singing is a huge part of my background, my family is very musical,” Gallagher said.
“I toured full time with the Victorian State Opera and was in some main stage opera works for Opera Australia as part of the ensemble.
“When I joined Life Like Touring 15 years ago, I worked my way up through the company in events, marketing and into producing.
“As a creative producer, I oversee everything from design, to wardrobe and lighting. I get to work with talents that do the work, make the big decisions.”
Puffs features an Australian cast led by Mildura’s Ryan Hawke and popular performer Rob Mills with original director Kristin McCarthy Parker and writer Matt Cox coming from New York to oversee the production.
It follows young wizards from the often forgotten and mocked house of Hufflepuff over the seven years a certain boy wizard went to Wizard School.
It’s not that boy wizard’s story. It’s the story of the Puffs who just happened to be there too.
“Matt is a very clever and exceptional writer,” Gallagher said. “He turns around obscure references and presents them back to audiences in a way that is unexpected and delightful.
“Puffs is new story that might have similarities to a certain book but it is a story about a new bunch of students.”
Aside from the laugh-a-minute humour and countless references to the books and film, the Potter-inspired story features a lot of heart.
“It really is a beautiful piece about not being the hero,” Gallagher said.
“Everyone has something heroic about them, you don’t need to be first or second. It’s what you bring to life or a process that is valuable.
“It’s easy to say this is a celebration of the underdogs but it is also saying that underdogs offer something valuable – often the most unexpected value. It can be the thing makes or breaks a moment.”
Gallagher said the cast and crew of Puffs was delighted with the response with countless sold out shows and the season being extended.
“Not only critics but also audiences love it. There has been a lot of love for this new story with people coming in droves,” he said.
“Live theatre is a risky business in a world where everything is at your fingertips.
“You don’t always have people coming out in droves for live theatre, which is why we’re thrilled that it has hit a nerve and has people intrigued.”
Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic is at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda. Visit www.puffstheplay.com/australia for more.