🎭 Stranger Sings
📍Southwark Playhouse – Borough
🎟️ PR invite
Jonathan Hogue’s award-winning parody musical, Stranger Sings, first made its way to London in 2022 at The Vaults. The musical has since gone on to entertain audiences on a U.K. tour and has returned to Southwark Playhouse for an alternative festive show!
Stranger Sings is a guaranteed evening of laughter – expect big hair, heavy 80s synths and a dancing Demogorgon! We are transported to season one of Stranger Things, joining the whole Hawkins Gang on a mission to find Will. We may even find #JusticeForBarb! The show also features cameos from characters in later seasons. While the show is sure to be popular with fans of the show, I don’t think it’s necessary to have watched all seasons (or any!) to enjoy and appreciate the musical.
Justin William’s set design is incredible and effortlessly portrays notable scenes from the series. We are seamlessly transported to the woods, to Joyce’s festive-lights living room and into the Upside Down. Alongside the great set design, Ellie Farrow’s costume design is so detailed, matching the characters perfectly. Clancy Flynn’s lighting and Richard Carter’s sound design worked well to enhance the eerie atmosphere.
Directed by Ellis Kerkhoven, the show is fast-paced, and brimming with jokes, all of which are hilariously timed. Stranger Sings features an impressive selection of original music, including classic 80s-inspired songs, upbeat pop tunes and even big 11 o’clock numbers. The score is exciting, and catchy with some of the most witty lyrics. I also loved how throughout the show, the writing constantly pokes fun at the decade and references iconic pop cultural moments from that era. Musical theatre fans may also spot the lyrical references from popular musicals.
Musical director, Olivia Zacharia leads the talented cast of 9, who are absolute stars. They showcased impressive multi-roleplaying, showing off their range by playing different characters. All the costume changes were seamlessly executed, never interrupting the flow of the show. The cast stayed true to the characters while adding their unique flair. Howard Jenkins gave a strong performance in the role of Jim Hopper, perfectly embodying the character with his mannerisms (that walk!) and their dry comic delivery. Verity Power is equally incredible as she perfectly encapsulates the chain-smoking, slightly manic character of Joyce. Power displayed an incredible vocal range in a spectacular song with surprise cameos, but also in their role as Will Byers (performed via puppet!)
Alfie Doohan was fantastic as Steve Harrington, Jonathan Byers and Dr Brenner – each role from Doohan had us laughing at how precise his portrayal was (and all those wigs!) Elliott Wooster, Jessie Jae Davis and William Shackleton perform as Mike, Lucas and Dustin, the beloved trio of friends. Shackleton was perfect as Dustin; paired with the baseball hat and lisp, Shackleton delivered strong vocals and hilarious characterisation in the role. Anna Amelia had the most gorgeous vocals and gave great performances as Nancy Wheeler and Eleven. Davis’ performance as the Demogorgon was an unexpected highlight, with catchy choreography by Lucinda Lawrence.
Philippa Leadbetter is a powerhouse in the role of Barb Holland – “the throwaway plot device character from season 1”. Leadbetter had the most impeccable comedic timing, and delivered a performance that can only be described as theatrical excellence! The cast is supported by two super swings, Ally Kennard and Shannon Bourne.
Hogue’s writing is clever and serves as a love letter to the 80s and one of the most popular TV series. As a Stranger Things fan, this musical has become one of my all-time favourites! It’s nostalgic, packed with hilarity and utter mayhem! The entire cast and creative team have put on a spectacular show, that I highly recommend!
Stranger Sings is playing at Southwark Playhouse until 6 January 2024, before continuing its UK tour.