New ‘Stranger Things’ Play Tells the Origin of the Upside Down

Stranger Things: The First Shadow, a prequel play to the Netflix hit drama Stranger Things, is headed to London’s West End this month. In honor of “Stranger Things” Day, or the day Will Byers went missing in Hawkins back in 1983, Netflix released a new clip previewing Stranger Things: The First Shadow, with key creatives and cast behind the play describing the on-stage plot and special effects.

Matt and Ross Duffer, who both created the Netflix series, collaborated with writer Kate Trefry and screenwriter Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Trial and Enola Holmes) to tell the origin story on stage.

“We were in the middle of breaking season four with our writers,” the Duffer brothers share in the feature clip. “We started going, OK, well, there’s definitely more story to tell here.”

[embedded content]

The play, set in Hawkins in 1959, begins when Young Jim Hopper’s car won’t start, Bob Newby’s sister refuses to take his radio show seriously, and Joyce Maldonando (Joyce Byers’ maiden name) is eager to graduate and leave town. When Henry Creel arrives, his family learns a fresh start isn’t so easy.

Directed by Tony-winner Stephen Daldry and co-directed by Justin Martin, the cast includes Oscar Lloyd (The 47th, Hotel Portofino) as Jim, Christopher Buckley (David Copperfield) as Bob, Isabella Pappas (Finding Alice) as Joyce, and Louis McCartney (Silent Roar, Hope Street, Game of Thrones) as Henry.

A younger Dr. Martin Brenner (Patrick Vaill), who conducted the grueling tests on Henry as a boy, also joins the cast. And a new character, Patty Newby, played by Ella Karuna Williams, shares a young romance with Henry.

“The main thrust of the story is Patty and her little budding romance with Henry,” Trefry said.

“It’s also the origin story of how Henry Creel became Number 1,” added producer Sonia Friedman.

Co-designer of illusions and VFX Jamie Harrison hints the upside-down origin story includes several monsters, vanishings, and appearances, along with blood and gut effects.

To Trefry, The First Shadow is expected to bring many surprises.

“There are so many Easter eggs,” Trefry said in the clip, “It’s Easter morning.”

More cast members include Shane Attwooll as Chief Hopper, Kemi Awoderu as Sue Anderson, Chase Brown as Lonnie Byers, Ammar Duffus as Charles Sinclair, Gilles Geary as Ted Wheeler, Florence Guy as Karen Childress, Max Harwood as Alan Munson, Michael Jobson as Victor Creel, Calum Ross as Walter Henderson, Maisie Norma Seaton as Claudia Yount, Lauren Ward as Virginia Creel and Anika Boyle, Faith Delaney and Imogen Turner alternating as Alice Creel.


As Stranger Things fans await the series fifth and final season, the production opens Dec. 14 at the Phoenix Theater, with previews beginning Nov. 17. Tickets are on sale here.