“Strangest Things!” Preview


Athena Pajer

The first trait people will notice about “Strangest Things!” is the humor. The musical, which parodies the popular Netflix show “Stranger Things,” will first show at Pipe Dreams Studios on April 6 at 7:30 P.M.

The production team ran through the performance for the first time with their costumes on Tuesday, March 27, and began to refine the certain elements of the show such as the choreography.

The dancing, choreographed by Nicole Chamberlain, matches the action-packed nature of the Netflix show and throws in a bit of slapstick comedy that members of a black box theatre audience will get to experience up-close.

“It’s a very interactive show and a very unique show in that style because we break the fourth-wall very, very frequently,” Colin McGonagle, a Freshman playing the character “Barb” and “The Doctor,” said. “We look around Pipe Dreams and this is not a normal setting for seating. It’s very immersive and we get pretty close to the audience, which I think is really cool experience-wise both for the audience and for the actors on-stage because we get to play like it’s almost a full-360.”

McGonagle is part of a freshman-heavy cast and, though he has worked with Taylor Stuenkel, the musical’s costume designer, in the past, this will be his first time performing during his freshman year.

Another freshman, Jared Scott, who plays the roles of Steve and Jonathan among a few other minor roles, has also worked as the Assistant Stage Manager for the Pipe Dreams Production “Lizzie” last semester and enjoys “Strangest Things!” for a number of reasons.

“The first one was that I love 80s music,” Scott said. Some of the songs parodied include “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Endless Love,” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” “Second: I went through ‘Stranger Things’ in 40 seconds, and I knew there were going to be so many opportunities to make a meme out of it…Third was that I worked at Pipe Dreams last semester and I enjoyed it a lot, so I want to do that again.”

Last semester, “Stranger Things” was not even on the list. The musical originally slotted for these dates was “Clinton: The Musical” but the rights were pulled last-minute. The production team chose “Strangest Things!” next because it had been successful when it opened in Chicago.

“It was serendipitous.” Stuenkel said.

The musical actually shortly followed the end of the first season, so the content does not match up to anything in the second. Though it is technically outdated, it makes fun of the same characters.

The members of the production hope that the parodies to 80s music will be something to which everyone can relate, making the show a fun activity for both Millikin students and other members from the outside community.

80s music and humor are sure to be the most sought-after characteristics, but the production team is determined to make the performance authentic, too. For instance, there will be a Demogorgon costume, but the set will also include something that “Stranger Things” fans are sure to enjoy.

“We’re incorporating Christmas lights as much as possible.” Stuenkel said.

Yes, the set designers, headed by scenic designer Elizabeth Pillow, are going to re-create the “alphabet wall” from the show.

Other members of the production team not mentioned before include Al Joritz as Props Designer, Annie Magan as Sound Designer, Caitlyn Garrity as Lighting Designer, Mairyn Dodson as Music Director, Ike Brown as Assistant Director and Claire Schmidt as both Costume Designer and Director.

They are working to make this show seem like the original show so the fun dynamic the cast presents contrasts the eerie “Stranger Things” atmosphere.

The cast members not mentioned also include Connor Mendenhall as Mike, Audri Bartholomew as Lucas, Sydney Francis as Nancy, Connor Brennan as Hopper, Isabella Loutfi as Dustin, Maura Fawley as Eleven, Michael Santos and Lucy Rossi as swings and Hannah Williams as Juice, the parodied character of “Joyce.”

The members of the “Strangest Things!” team are busy, but they are getting more and more excited for opening day.

“We are here, we are free, and we are ‘Strangest Things!’” Mendenhall said.