(Featured Image Source: www.strangersingsthemusical.com)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from STRANGER SINGS!, THE PARODY MUSICAL. A comedic musical parody of Netflix’s immensely popular sci-fi horror series, what I thought I would most likely get would be a short & fun retelling of the series’ notable plot points. So when I arrived and stepped down into a theater styled to look like the Byer’s home, complete with walls adorned with Christmas lights and retro toys, it was the start of an engaging, immersive, imaginative, and hilarious examination of not just Stranger Things, but of its genre of nostalgic paranormal series.
“With book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Hogue, Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical is a wild and irreverent send-up of the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things” and all its campy ’80s glory. Take a trip back to Hawkins, Indiana, 1983: when times were simpler, hair was bigger, and unsupervised children were getting snatched by inter-dimensional creatures. Join Mike, Eleven, Lucas, Dustin, and the whole Hawkins gang for a night of adventure, thrills, pubescent angst, heavy synth, poor parenting, convoluted love triangles, cheap effects, dancing monsters, and maybe, just maybe… justice for everyone’s favorite missing ginger, Barb Holland.”via www.strangersingsthemusical.com
STRANGER SINGS! is an off-Broadway musical that reimagines Stranger Things as a campy musical–so, you know, perfection. With book, music, and lyrics by Jonathan Hogue, direction by Nick Flatto, choreography by Ashley Marinelli, musical supervision, arrangements & orchestrations by Michael Kaish, a scenic design by Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominee Walt Spangler, costume design by Matthew Solomon, lighting design by Drama Desk nominee Jamie Roderick. The cast features Jamir Blair as Lucas, Jeremiah Garcia as Dustin, Caroline Huerta as Joyce/Will, Jeffrey Laughrun as Mike, Garrett Poladian as Steve/Jonathan, Harley Seger as Eleven / Nancy, SLee as Barb, Shawn W. Smith as Hopper, and swings Jean Christian Barry, Dashiell Gregory, and Hannah Clarke Levine.
Find yourself back in Hawkins, Indiana, circa 1983!
From the beginning, the story pulls you in, the production expertly using its arena-styled seating. The story unfolded in the center of the room, the audience sitting all around. It created an intimate adventure, with the performers frequently getting close to the audience. The show began with the iconic opening scene of the first episode: a wounded scientist running past us, looking back at unseen horror, the lights flickering and set the mood… This was then contrasted by a hilarious song about how normal Hawkins is and how nothing untoward was set to unfold. And before we knew it, we were hooked. Pulled into the setting, again helped by the actors performing well-executed fourth wall breaks and layered commentary. We were shocked and delighted during the introductory song, where we were offered a handshake from a puppet and a charming nod from an actor.
A masterful mix of acting, puppetry, music, and lighting.
During the entire experience, the theater’s lights changed and helped transport us along with the story. We went from the Wheeler basement to the dark of the forest and a recreation of the iconic Christmas lights scene from the series paired with the bop of a song called “Crazy,” performed by Caroline Huerta.
Caroline Huerta’s perfect portrayal of Joyce Byer’s completely not over-the-top reaction to her son going missing is perfection, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.
All the characters are written as comedic parodies of the series versions but they were all spot on and genuinely funny. Mike’s, Lucus and Dustin’s awkwardness, and Nancy’s seemingly constant boy-chasing were brought to the stage with comedic charm. Hopper is still the best sheriff who is terrible at his job, and Steve Harrington… oh, Steve Harrington… Steve is still the ultimate babysitter- going on an introspective and deep journey during the show and gosh darn it we all grew up a bit with him by the end.
And we can’t forget Barb! While all the actors deserve so much acclaim, and their performances showed their immense levels of skill and talent, Barb (played by SLee) stole the show for us! The entire audience would erupt in cheer for this character who, in the source material, was a forgotten note (something that Stranger Sings itself brings up) but here got so much more!
Not a direct retelling, the production tells the story of the series’ first season with additional elements from the second and third seasons. It changed things up and was a great mix. Having the actors make fun of New Coke and the shocking appearance of a certain fan-favorite character from a later season earned laughs and applause each time.
A love letter to not only Stranger Things, but also the 80s, sci-fi horror, and Winona Ryder. Stranger Sings isn’t just a musical for fans of the series but those who love just how absurd horror and nostalgia can be.
As we previously reported, STRANGER SINGS!, THE PARODY MUSICAL was original scheduled to complete its stage run on January 1st, 2023, but has been extended through March 5, 2023, meaning you still have time to catch this can’t miss show! You can learn more, see show dates, and get your tickets by heading to the official site!
Oh, and #JusticeForBarb
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