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Stage adaptation of 'Stranger Things' hits London's West End

US director Matt Duffer and US producer Ross Duffer attend "Stranger Things" premiere in London.
US director Matt Duffer and US producer Ross Duffer attend "Stranger Things" premiere in London. Copyright Jordan Strauss/2019 Invision
Copyright Jordan Strauss/2019 Invision
By Katy Dartford with AP, AFP
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Netflix is one of the producers of the new theatre show, which premiered at the Phoenix Theatre.

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There was excitement on the red carpet amongst stars and fans of Netflix’s hit series “Stranger Things” as the stage adaptation of the science-fiction horror show hit London's West End.

After proving to be one of Netflix's most popular shows, the makers of "Stranger Things" are hoping for similar success with the stage adaptation, which premiered at the Phoenix Theatre.

Speaking on the red carpet, actor Matthew Modine, whose character Dr Brenner features in the storyline of the play, said he expected the stage production to be “extraordinary”.

Series creators, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, who were also creative producers on the theatre production, dubbed the visual effects “magic”. 

"It's wild, this was never obviously part of the plan," said Ross Duffer. "We're like, 'Well, there's more story here than we're able to fit in the show.' And we thought it was some ripe territory to cover."

US actor David Harbour poses on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the West End world premiere of "Stranger Things: The Last Shadow"
US actor David Harbour poses on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the West End world premiere of "Stranger Things: The Last Shadow"JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

Hollywood stars including Hugh Jackman and James McAvoy were among those to turn out on the red carpet in the British capital.

"Stranger Things: The First Shadow" is a prequel to the hit Netflix series, which had its fourth season released in May and was written by one of the show's original writers Kate Trefry and co-directed by Oscar-nominee Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin.

The play explores the adolescence of Henry Creel and his transformation into Vecna, the villain of the fourth season.

The story goes back to 1959 Hawkins, Indiana, where everything starts going wrong for the heroes who are merely teens, in a "true ensemble show," said Trefry.

"It's the origin story of the villain, the main villain of 'Stranger Things,' who you meet in season four as Vecna, who is in our play, just a 13-year-old boy who is haunted by something supernatural and is falling in love and coming of age. And it's also an origin story of the town of Hawkins. It's a mystery story for the Bob, Joyce, and Hopper characters."

Australian actor Hugh Jackman poses on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the West End world premiere of "Stranger Things: The Last Shadow"
Australian actor Hugh Jackman poses on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the West End world premiere of "Stranger Things: The Last Shadow"JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

Directed by Stephen Daldry, whose lengthy directing credits include "The Crown", the play also takes place in the small US town of Hawkins, Indiana.

The play's creators promise it "brings the world of 'Stranger Things' to life in a completely new way", taking audiences "right back to the beginning of the... story" and teasing that it "may hold the key to the end".

The multi-award-winning series has been one of the streaming giant's most popular series since debuting in 2016, with its fourth season alone amassing over 140.7 million views globally.

Netflix is one of the producers of the new theatre show.

20-year-old Louis McCartney takes the lead role as Creel and says there are no fake-outs for all the unusual things happening on stage.

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"It's everything that's in the 'Stranger Things' TV show is in our play. Some new stuff as well, and it's all very practical. There is no, you know, oh misdirection over here while we do something here. It is like you watch us and we'll do magic right in front of you."

Co-star Ella Karuna Williams, who plays a new character, says that fact took a load off her shoulders.

"That has definitely been a little bit of, I guess, a stress reliever and an otherwise overwhelming but very, very exciting process. It's been really cool to get to build a character from the ground up."

'Stranger Things: The First Shadow,' starring Oscar Lloyd, Christopher Buckley, Isabella Pappas, Patrick Vaill, Lauren Ward and Michael Jibson, is showing at Phoenix Theatre until August 2024.

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