‘Stranger Things’ prequel play announced for the London stage

It looks like the play’s the (stranger) thing!

London’s Phoenix Theatre is planning to turn things Upside Down when it debuts “Stranger Things: The First Shadow,” a prequel theatrical experience tied to the runaway Netflix hit. The fifth and final season of the series begins production this May, and the new play will be up “later this year.” 

The author is Kate Trefry, a staff writer, story editor, and co-executive producer on the series, credited as writer on three teleplays, one from the second, third, and fourth seasons. The prequel play is based on a story from Trefry and “Stranger Things” creators Matt and Ross Duffer, as well as Jack Thorne. Thorne is the writer behind Netflix’s hit “Enola Holmes,” but, more relevant to this endeavor, he is the author of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the two-part theatrical experience/license to print money with productions in London, New York, Melbourne, San Francisco, Hamburg, Toronto, and Tokyo. 

The three-time Tony winner and three-time Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry (“The Reader,” “Billy Elliot”) will co-direct the piece with Justin Martin. (Martin, a respected theater director, also has some credits on Netflix’s “The Crown.”)

Of the project, the Duffer Brothers said, “You will meet endearing new characters, as well as very familiar ones, on a journey into the past that sets the groundwork for the future of ‘Stranger Things’. We’re dying to tell you more about the story but won’t — it’s more fun to discover it for yourself. Can’t wait to see you nerds in London.”

An official synopsis reads “Hawkins, 1959: a regular town with regular worries. Young Jim Hopper’s car won’t start, Bob Newby’s sister won’t take his radio show seriously and Joyce Maldonado just wants to graduate and get the hell out of town. When new student Henry Creel arrives, his family finds that a fresh start isn’t so easy … and the shadows of the past have a very long reach. Brought to life by a multi-award-winning creative team, who take theatrical storytelling and stagecraft to a whole new dimension, this gripping new adventure will take you right back to the beginning of the Stranger Things story — and may hold the key to the end.”

As fans of the show know, those aforementioned names are central characters in the “Stranger Things” Netflix franchise. David Harbour and Winona Ryder play, respectively, Hopper and Joyce on the flagship series. Bob Newby was played by Sean Astin in Season 2 before the character met a grisly end, while Jamie Campbell Bower starred as the erstwhile Henry Creel in Season 4 – better known in the show’s present setting as Vecna, the villainous Big Bad of the whole shebang.  

No word on if Kate Bush’s music will somehow be involved. Or if/when “The First Shadow” will hit Broadway.

The 92-year-old, 1000+ capacity Phoenix Theatre, located on Charing Cross Road, is currently running a production of the reliable comedy “Noises Off.” Recent hits have included “Come from Away,” “Bend it Like Beckham: The Musical,” and “The Girls,” the inspiration for the film “Calendar Girls.” The musical “Blood Brothers” ran there from 1991 through 2012, and prior to that it saw the West End premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods.” During the Second World War, John Gielgud performed in “Love For Love” at the theater. Terence Rattigan’s “The Browning Version” debuted there in the 1950s, as did Tom Stoppard’s “Night and Day” in the 1970s.

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