You are: Emelie Clements, a group instructor at Crunch Fitness and the wife of Dyess Air Force Base airman Dave, who is with the 436th Training Squadron. They have been in Abilene since 2020. The eldest of three siblings, she is from Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago. She also is seeking an online degree from Luther Seminary (St. Paull, Minne.) to become an ordained deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "So I keep busy," she said, smiling.
We've seen you before in: This is her first Abilene Community Theatre show. She saw a posting about auditions for "Puffs" and being a Harry Potter fan, jumped at the opportunity to land a role. She heard "Puffs," a 2015 parody of the Potter series, discussed on a podcast by Michael Schubert called "Potterless" and became a fan. Performing in it was on her bucket list, she said. "This is a dream show. If I don't audition, I'm going to be kicking myself," she said. Her husband encouraged her to it, too. "If you don't go, you're going to regret it," he told her. And here she is on the ACT main stage. "I can't believe that after watching it for the first on Amazon I'm actually in the show," she said.
Role in "Puffs": The play takes place as "a certain school for magic." 'Puffs" is not authorized or sanctioned by the world of "Harry Potter" but it has become a favorite of fans. It goes through all seven J.K. Rowling books, focusing on the Puffs (what would the Hufflepuff) and the collection of students who always come in fourth. Their goal is to be No. 3. Their story intertwines with those of Harry, Hermione and others fans know well. "Puffs "tells the story from the point of view of the people who get left behind," Clements said. One is , whose story is eerily similar to Harry, except that he is from New Mexico and named Wayne.
Puffs is the underdog house, she said. "Was is it like to live in an unprecedented time, with a local celebrity going to school?" she said. "What is like for the ones who are told 'you aren't that cool, you aren't that great?'" The play shows the community they build together "as the underappreciated house."
Clement is Megan Jones, daughter of Xavia Jones, the supposed evil wizard of the dark lord. "She desperately wants to be as cool as her mom," Clements said. "As scary as her mom. She doesn't want to be a Puff." But that is where she was sorted. "She goes through this journey discovering that it's not a bad thing to be a Puff. She goes through all the houses and discovers that being a Puff isn't a bad thing for her."
What you've learned about yourself playing this character: Clements is 5-foot-10, fairly tall for a woman. Because of that, she previously was cast as older or more imposing. "The mom, or the bully," she said. Chutney Wyndam "the dad guy" in "Legally Blonde." Here, she's 11 and one of the gang. "This has opened up my acting for me," she said. Megan is trying to find herself, which most girls are doing at her age. Often, they are told. "I've gotten to do a lot of self-reflecting. Who was I told I should be in middle, school, in high school and even in college?" she said. "And who am I now? I've gotten to explore what that means, not just for myself but for Megan."
This also is her first comedy and first stab at improve. "There such a delicate balance to strike. For the characters, it's not just a comedy. For everybody watching it, it's funny. So, I would find this funny, but would Megan find this funny?" she said. The cast has taught her how not to break into laughter on stage, she added.
What the audience will get out of this production: "I think our hope is that you leave in tears because of the message and from laughing so hard," she said. "Puffs," she said, honors Rowling's series - the importance of community and that you can be the hero of your own story. "Be the hero you want to be," she said.
What's next for you: Clements said the acting bug has bitten. "I have been in love with theater since I was born. My mother said she felt me kick when she went to see 'The Secret Garden,'" she said, laughing. She was active in theater in high school and into community college, even as a science major. She has been in dramas and musicals, and has been a stage manager. Her last role, about seven years ago, was in the musical version of "Legally Blonde."
She would be interested in future roles. ACT concludes its 2022-23 season with "Puffs." the next full production is "The Rainmaker," scheduled to open Aug. 11 (auditions are set for June 19-20)
Greg Jaklewicz is editor of the Abilene Reporter-News and general columnist. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
If You Go
What: "Puffs," directed by Scot Miller
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; also, 7:30 p.m. June 9-10 and 2 p.m. June 11. The matinees are "family friendly," without any "naughty language"
Where: Abilene Community Theatre, 809 Barrow St.
Tickets: $18 for adults and general admission, $15 for seniors (55+), military and students.
Information: Call 325-673-6271 or go to abilenecommunitytheatre.org
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Centerstage with: Emelie Clements of ACT's 'Puffs'