Music, Book & Lyrics: Jonathan Hogue
Director: Ellis Kerkhoven
Nothing odd happens in Hawkins, Indiana and its inhabitants are proud of it. Only alien-like creatures abducting children in the woods and taking them to alternative dimensions that can be accessed by lab-trained telekinesis gifted young girls – but hey, Stranger Things happen right?!
Focusing mainly on the plot points during season one of the popular Netflix hit Stranger Things, this spoof musical parodies every scene to perfection. When Will (played by a puppet) goes missing, his friends rally together on an adventure into the woods to find him, stumbling across a mysterious girl with strange powers in the process. Simultaneously, his mum is also on a quest to find him, seeking solace in speaking to him through her Christmas lights in the meantime. By poking fun at all of the ridiculous aspects of Stranger Things, it not only satisfies the fans in the audience, but also creates a hilariously silly show for those who aren’t as familiar. In addition, the clever writing from Jonathan Hogue, also manages to deviate away from Stranger Things by cramming in a ton of 80s popular culture references within each scene, which gives this musical its own unique brand of originality and allows it to not just be a comedic copy of the main TV show.
There isn’t even one small part of this show that needs any tweaks or improvements, every single aspect is absolutely fantastic. The set, designed by Justin Williams, automatically transports you into the iconic living room strewn with fairy lights and alphabet covered walls. Although the set barely changes throughout the performance, the props and lighting (Clancy Flynn) both work in conjunction with the talented cast to make every new location feel genuinely different – a hard feat that they manage to pull off with ease. Wit and creativity is used in abundance to bring each scene to life, proving that you don’t need a huge budget to impress, just imagination and ingenuity. Ellis Kerkhoven’s fast-paced direction keeps the humour flowing and transitions flawless, with the brilliant onstage music director Debbi Clarke, contributing to the atmosphere of each scene with a catchy musical score.
Another incredible way this show shines, is the way it allows every single character on stage their own moment in the spotlight rather than keeping supporting characters on the periphery. Howard Jenkins (Hopper), Holly Sumpton (Joyce) and Anna Amelia (Eleven/Nancy Wheeler) are so incredible as their characters it is almost as if David Harbour, Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown were in the musical themselves. Their facial expressions, mannerisms and accents are perfection. The musical number with Sumpton referencing Winona, her Emmy and Edward Scissorhands is impeccable, and the dance off between Amelia and the Demogorgon is superb. The amazing Jonty Peach (Steve) and Georgia McElwee (Barb) have their comedic timing down to perfection. Both are effortlessly hysterical within their roles – they undoubtedly have a long, successful future in performance ahead of them. Joseph Riley (Mike), William Shackleton (Dustin) and Finton Flynn (Lucas), portray the childhood trio brilliantly, playing on their character quirks and capturing their youthful energy with confidence.
Don’t be a mouthbreather and miss this faultless musical, whether you Hop(per) on your bike or go Running Up That Hill in order to access the Upside Down within The Vaults. Make sure you do it because this is a perfect parody with a realm of retro references that shouldn’t be missed.
Runs until 15 January 2023