Review: Beetlejuice Makes a Bang on Broadway
Beetlejuice is the 1988 Tim Burton classic film that follows Barbra and Adam Maitland whose house is bought by the Deetz family after the couple suddenly die. In a failed attempt to claim back their home by scaring the new family, the Maitlands gain a new friend in Lydia Deetz. The group eventually crosses paths with bio-exorcist Beetlejuice and the rest, as they say, is history and has now been transformed into a Broadway spectacle!
From the moment you step into the theater, you are transported to a different world. Leave the grimy subway and those Times Square Elmos behind, you are in the netherworld now. The entire theater has a green glow and a flickering sign “Betlegeuse” illuminates the stage while eerie music haunts you in the background. Themed drinks are at the bar and the ambiance is just spectacular to get you in the mood. So many theaters and shows neglect this aspect of storytelling, yet it is that 360 experience that makes Disney Parks millions.
Beetlejuice immediately tries to show you this is not a cut and paste version of the film. The titular character, played impressively by Tony nominated actor Alex Brightman appears rather immediately and throughout the entire two hours and forty minutes of the production while in the film, Beetlejuice appears in glorious bits and pieces stealing scenes. One of Brightman’s first lines even is, “Holy crap! A ballad already?! This is such a bold departure from the source material!”. The musical puts the focus on Lydia, played by seventeen-year-old Sophia Anne Caruso, compared to Barbra and Adam, played by Kerry Butler and Rob McClure respectively. Here you learn more about Lydia and her mother Emily (Caruso’s vocals shine in the song “Dead Mom” and “Home”. Please give this girl an endless supply of throat coat tea and vegan Schmackery’s cookies.) with the very predictable plot line switch of Lydia wanting to be with her mom again. In the musical version, Barbra and Adam die in the house rather than in a car accident which is a welcome twist. Delia played the enchanting Leslie Kritzer, who in the film was an eccentric artist is now a life coach to Lydia and secret girlfriend to Lydia’s father Charles (Adam Dannheisser). Kritzer steals many scenes with her “advice” and even plays double duty as Miss Argentina in a spectacular musical number.
What completely steals the show is not a specific actor, line or song but the sets, lights and special effects, which are to die for! (We had to!) McClure even said in an opening night chat on the musical’s Instagram page, the actors signed that they are not allowed to discuss how the gags are done. Yes, they are that good. Look out Tony’s!
Simply, Beetlejuice is fun, fun, FUN! It is a wacky, witty, raunchy, sometimes messy, sometimes complete sensory overflow but is that not also a perfect definition of the titular character audience members recall from the movie? Audience members were clad in Beetlejuice stripes, green and gothic attire. They howled over “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”. The woman next to me wiped away tears in a scene with Lydia and her father. And I have never heard such cheers at intermission. Despite some minor flaws, Warner Brothers might have that hit on their hands they need.
You can try saying his name three times but getting your tickets HERE will ensure better results.