Stranger Things Play The First Shadow Will Set the Table for Season 5

A behind-the-scenes look at Stranger Things: The First Shadow reveals how the play will fill in the blanks for the final season's big bad.

STRANGER THINGS. Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna in STRANGER THINGS.
Photo: Steve Dietl | Netflix

It might be awhile before we get to see Stranger Things season 5. Production on the fifth and final season of the Netflix juggernaut has been delayed, first by the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) strike for an equitable contract from Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and then again by the Screen Actors Guild’s strike action against AMPTP (seems as though there is one common denominator in these two work stoppages…).

Though the WGA strike has been resolved and SGA seems well on its way to be, there will still be a lot of filming to get through before Stranger Things season 5 can get a Netflix release date. For all we know, the youth of Hawkins, Indiana might be well into their 20s by the time we get to see the ’80s horror/sci-fi saga come to an end.

Thankfully, Stranger Things fans have something else to look forward to in the form of Stranger Things: The First Shadow. When first announced, the notion of a Stranger Things play seemed like a particularly desperate gambit from Netflix to squeeze as much content out of its juicy IP as possible. A live theater production for Stranger Things? Really? I mean, sure it worked for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but there’s little in the Stranger Things canon to suggest that it would make sense on the stage.

But now, as part of its Nov. 6 “Stranger Things Day” observation, Netflix has released a lengthy first look at Stranger Things: The First Shadow and you know what? It looks pretty great! What’s more is that the plot details revealed from the clip suggest a deeper dive into one of the franchise’s most important characters and therefore an important teaser for the fifth season to come. Take a look at the video below to see what we mean.

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The visuals presented here are really compelling. It looks like The First Shadow is going to pull out every trick in the theater book to create a spooky atmosphere for its live audience with co-illusion designer Jamie Harrison promising: “There are a lot of monsters. There are a lot of blood and gut effects. There are a lot of vanishes and appearances and lots of other things.”

While that should be thrilling for those who nab tickets to the show at Phoenix Theatre in London later this year, the plot details of the show are of particular importance to fans of the show. As previously teased, Stranger Things: The First Shadow is a prequel story for the franchise. But now we know that it will introduce a new heroine (Patty Newby) and hone in on some of the series major players as kids: Joyce Byers nee Maldonado, Jim Hopper, Bob Newby, and most importantly: Henry Creel a.k.a. Number 001 a.k.a. Vecna.

“The main thrust of the story is Patty and her budding romance with Henry,” writer Kate Trefry says in the clip.

“It’s also the origin story of how Henry Creel became Number 001,” producer Sonia Friedman adds.

Getting to learn more about Henry Creel has enormous implications for Stranger Things season 5 and for the franchise as a whole going forward. First introduced in season 4, Henry Creel is the progenitor of everything … well, strange that’s happened in Stranger Things. A disaffected youth with powerful supernatural abilities, Henry became Dr. Brenner’s “Number 001” subject and opened the metaphysical door to the Upside Down. Henry would then go on to be corrupted by the dark realm, becoming the charred villain Vecna. Netflix’s provided plot description for the play reads:

“Hawkins, 1959: a regular town with regular worries. Young Jim Hopper’s car won’t start, Bob Newby’s sister won’t take his radio show seriously and Joyce Maldonado just wants to graduate and get the hell out of town. When new student Henry Creel arrives, his family finds that a fresh start isn’t so easy… and the shadows of the past have a very long reach. Brought to life by a multi-award-winning creative team, who take theatrical storytelling and stagecraft to a whole new dimension, this gripping new adventure will take you right back to the beginning of the Stranger Things story – and may hold the key to the end.”

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“May hold the key to the end” you say? Interesting. After three seasons spent with terrifying, yet non-sentient bestial monsters, Stranger Things is clearly reveling in the fact that it has a proper Big Bad. Henry Creel is of immense importance to showrunners The Duffer Brothers and it speaks volumes that he will be the focus of The First Shadow. It remains to be scene what path Stranger Things season 5 takes to conclude its epic story. One thing that seems pretty clear, however, is that all roads go through Henry Creel.

Previews for Stranger Things: The First Shadow begin Nov. 17 at the Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0JP. Production opens Dec. 14.