|The Musical. The Musical. The Musical.|
by Michael McDowell
|Premiere||October 14, 2018: National Theatre, Washington, D.C.|
|Productions||2018 Washington, D.C.|
Beetlejuice is a stage musical with music and lyrics by Eddie Perfect and book by Scott Brown and Anthony King. It is based on the 1988 film of the same name, about a deceased couple who try to haunt the new inhabitants of their former home and call for help from a devious bio-exorcist ghost named Betelgeuse (pronounced "Beetlejuice"), who is summoned by saying his name three times. It is also about a young girl named Lydia Deetz dealing with the mourning of her mother, Emily Deetz.
The musical premiered at the National Theatre, Washington, D.C. in October 2018, prior to opening on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on April 25, 2019. It is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures (a unit of franchise owner Warner Bros.). On December 9, 2019, it was announced that the show would be forced to vacate the Winter Garden on June 6, 2020 before The Music Man opens in the fall at the Winter Garden due to a stop clause that went into effect in May 2019. The show is in search for a new Broadway house. A national tour is expected in 2021.
A group of people at a graveyard mourn the passing of Emily Deetz. Emily's daughter, Lydia, reflects on the death of her mother and her own inability to be noticed by her father, Charles ("Prologue: Invisible"). A millennia old demon named Beetlejuice arrives, claiming that living life to the fullest is pointless, as it will all be worthless once death comes ("The Whole "Being Dead" Thing"). Beetlejuice then tells the audience, through means of breaking the fourth wall, how as a demon, he is invisible to all living beings unless he gets someone to say his name three times, and reveals that he has a plan to accomplish this.
Beetlejuice then introduces Adam and Barbara Maitland. They are a normal married couple who desperately want to start a family, but are not emotionally ready and project their insecurities onto their hobbies. As Adam and Barbara reason to themselves why they're not ready for a child, they fall to their deaths through unstable floorboards in their home ("Ready, Set, Not Yet"). The "Handbook for the Recently Deceased" falls from the sky, but Beetlejuice burns it, wanting the newly deceased Maitlands to haunt their house and get a living person to say his name three times, which will allow him to be seen by all living beings. When Barbara and Adam awaken from their fatal fall and realize that they are dead, Beetlejuice reveals himself to the couple and offers to help them adjust to the Afterlife ("The Whole "Being Dead" Thing, Pt. 2"). Beetlejuice reveals to the Maitlands that the Deetzes have bought their house. He tells them that in order to remain in their house alone, they will have to scare the Deetzes away, and the Maitlands accept his help ("The Whole "Being Dead" Thing, Pt. 3").
While moving in, Charles reveals to Lydia that he wants to start a gated community, using the house as a flagship model home, and is having a dinner party with some business friends. Lydia expresses her desire for her mother to return, mentioning the fact that nobody seems to care that she's gone. Praying for her mother to send a sign that she's still there, Lydia vows to make her father acknowledge the fact that tragedy struck their family ("Dead Mom"). In the attic, Beetlejuice is trying to teach the Maitlands how to be scary. Despite his best attempts, Barbara and Adam are not scary at all ("Fright of Their Lives"). Beetlejuice becomes frustrated with the couple and abandons them, and they vow to scare the Deetz family away themselves ("Ready Set (Reprise)"). Meanwhile, Delia, a woman who Charles hired to be Lydia's life coach and is secretly his lover, tells Lydia how everything happens for a reason, but fails to get her in a positive state of mind ("No Reason"). After their session, Lydia meets the Maitlands as they are roaming the house trying to scare the Deetzes. Lydia wants to leave the house just as much as the Maitlands want her family out, so she tries to convince her dad that the house is haunted only to find out that he and Delia are engaged.
Feeling as if Charles is just trying to replace her mother, Lydia flees to the roof, where a depressed Beetlejuice laments that he will never be seen ("Invisible (Reprise)"). Beetlejuice becomes ecstatic when he realizes Lydia can see him and tries to convince her not to kill herself, with the intention of getting her to free him from his curse. Lydia teases Beetlejuice, but does not say his name. The Maitlands come to check on Lydia only to be possessed by Beetlejuice into saying positive things about him to further convince Lydia. Upon learning about possession and that any ghost can do it, regardless of skill, Lydia decides not to work with Beetlejuice and instead work with the Maitlands to ruin Charles' dinner party ("Say My Name").
At the dinner party, Barbara and Adam possess Charles, Delia, and their guests ("Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)"). However, instead of being scared, the investors see the ghosts as a selling point, making them more interested in Charles' project. Feeling desperate, Lydia resorts to summoning Beetlejuice. Now visible to the living and able to affect the world around him, he forces the Maitlands to the attic before throwing Charles, Delia and the investors out of the house, much to Lydia's joy.
A Girl Scout named Sky explains to the audience how she has a heart condition where anything shocking could stop her heart but nevertheless is excited to be a Girl Scout. She rings the doorbell of the Deetzes' house to be greeted by Lydia, who invites her inside ("Girl Scout"). Beetlejuice appears and frightens the poor girl into leaving the house. He summons more versions of himself to help Lydia scare every visitor that comes into the house ("That Beautiful Sound"). Beetlejuice tells Lydia that now that she lives and works among the dead, she should also follow their rules, and gives her a copy of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased. However, because she is not dead, Lydia can't open it. Lydia realizes the book could help her reunite with her mother, and runs to the attic for Barbara and Adam's help. Feeling once again alone and betrayed, Beetlejuice talks with his clones about how although he can be seen, he wants to leave the house to finally connect with people. He decides he must trick Lydia into marrying him, which will allow him to roam free in the living world ("That Beautiful Sound (Reprise)").
In the attic, Barbara and Adam help Lydia open the Handbook, when they realize they should have gone straight to the Netherworld instead of remaining in their house. Adam opens the door to the Netherworld, but Barbara shuts it, afraid of leaving the house. Lydia berates them because she hoped to use the book to summon her dead mother. She exits the attic in disappointment and anger. Barbara realizes that all of their fear has held the Maitlands back, and she and Adam decide to become bolder and better ("Barbara 2.0").
Delia, Charles, and Delia's guru Otho re-enter the house to rescue Lydia, bringing a box that can supposedly trap souls. Beetlejuice tricks Lydia by telling her that reading a passage from the book will resurrect her mother, but instead she unknowingly begins an exorcism of Barbara and is forced to agree to marry Beetlejuice to stop it ("The Whole "Being Dead" Thing, Pt. 4"). Beetlejuice stops the exorcism and opens a door to the Netherworld to send the Maitlands away for good, but Lydia jumps through the door, with Charles following ("Good Old Fashioned Wedding").
Lydia and Charles enter the Netherworld to be greeted by Miss Argentina, who along with other Netherworld residents, urges her to return to the living world ("What I Know Now"). They then meet Juno, director of Netherworld Customs and Processing, who soon finds out they are still alive. Lydia runs from Juno, and frantically searches for her mother in the Netherworld, but is unable to find her. Charles finds Lydia in distress and reconciles with her ("Home").
Lydia and Charles return to the house where Beetlejuice is preparing to kill everyone. Lydia plans to trick Beetlejuice by marrying him, as Charles, Delia, and the Maitlands get him ready ("Creepy Old Guy"). The wedding brings Beetlejuice to life, allowing Lydia to stab him and kill him again, making him "Recently Deceased". Lydia and the Maitlands try to send him back to the Netherworld, but Juno appears, reveals herself as Beetlejuice's mother, and tries to take Lydia back with her. Beetlejuice stands up to Juno, having learned to appreciate life in his brief experience. Juno pretends to be moved by Beetlejuice's speech and throws him out of the house. The Maitlands, Charles, and Delia refuse to let Juno take Lydia. Beetlejuice then crashes through the wall riding a sandworm, which then eats Juno.
Beetlejuice then says his last goodbyes to everyone before leaving. The Deetzes and Maitlands rejoice in their victory and agree to share the house as they clean up and repair the damages done to it. Lydia accepts that although her mother is gone, there is still so much left to enjoy in life ("Jump in the Line").
|Character||Workshop (2017)||Workshop (2018)||Washington, D.C. (2018)||Broadway (2019)|
|Lydia Deetz||Sophia Anne Caruso|
|Adam Maitland||Danny Pudi||John Cariani||Rob McClure|
|Barbara Maitland||Kerry Butler|
|Charles Deetz||Adam Dannheisser|
|Delia Schlimmer / Miss Argentina[a]||Jackie Burns||Leslie Kritzer|
|Maxie Dean||Danny Rutigliano|
|Maxine Dean / Juno[b]||Jill Abramovitz|
|Otho||Kelvin Moon Loh|
|Girl Scout||Dana Steingold|
In 2016, a musical adaptation of the 1988 film Beetlejuice (directed by Tim Burton and starring Geena Davis as Barbara Maitland, Alec Baldwin as Adam Maitland, Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz and Michael Keaton as Betelgeuse) was reported to be in the works, directed by Alex Timbers and produced by Warner Bros., following a reading with Christopher Fitzgerald in the title role. In March 2017, it was reported that Australian musical comedian Eddie Perfect would be writing the music and lyrics and Scott Brown and Anthony King would be writing the book of the musical, and that another reading would take place in May, featuring Kris Kukul as musical director. The musical has had three readings and two laboratory workshops with Alex Brightman in the title role, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia Deetz, Kerry Butler and Rob McClure as Barbara and Adam Maitland.
The musical premiered its pre-Broadway tryout at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. for a limited run from October 14 to November 18, 2018. The production was directed by Alex Timbers, choreographed by Connor Gallagher, musical direction by Kris Kukul, scenic design by David Korins, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Peter Hylenski, projection design Peter Nigrini, puppet design by Michael Curry, special effects by Jeremy Chernick, illusions by Michael Weber, music producing by Matt Stine and dance arrangements by David Dabbon.
On August 22, the full casting was announced including Kerry Butler (after appearing in workshops) and Rob McClure as Barbara and Adam Maitland, Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser as Delia and Charles Deetz, Jill Abramovitz and Danny Rutigliano as Maxine and Maxi Dean and Kelvin Moon Loh as Otho. The ensemble will include Tessa Alves, Johnny Brantley, Ryan Breslin, Brooke Engen, Abe Goldfarb, Eric Anthony Johnson, Elliott Mattox, Mateo Melendez, George Merrick, Ramone Owens, Devin Roberts, Presley Ryan, Kim Sava, and Dana Steingold.
On September 6, 2018, it was announced that following its Washington D.C. tryout, the musical will open during the 2018-19 season on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre with previews beginning on March 28, 2019, and an official opening night on April 25, 2019.
On December 9, 2019, it was announced that Beetlejuice's final performance at the Winter Garden will be on June 6, 2020. The show will close to make room for the 2020 revival of The Music Man. This news was unusual because the production was, after a slow start, performing well in box office sales and the week before had broken the Winter Garden's box office record with a $1.6 million gross. Composer Eddie Perfect and stars Butler and Kritzer revealed on social media that the producers were searching for a new theater to house the production.
The New York Timess Ben Brantley wrote: "Invisibility is definitely not among this show's problems; overcompensating from the fear that it might lose an audience with a limited attention span is. Though it features a jaw-droppingly well-appointed gothic funhouse set (by David Korins, lighted by Kenneth Posner), replete with spooky surprises, this show so overstuffs itself with gags, one-liners and visual diversions that you shut down from sensory overload."
Sara Holdren, writing for New Yorks Vulture, wrote: "Beetlejuice, the rowdy, raunchy musical adapted from Tim Burton's 1988 horror-comedy, openly embraces the theme park-y aspects of an enterprise like the one it's engaged in. True to its source material, it's loud, it's cheeky, and it's all about excess. It's also -- thanks in large part to Alex Brightman's spot-on performance as the incorrigible titular ghoul -- a pretty fun time."
Nick Romano from Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Beetlejuice... was crafted from a group of creative minds who clearly love the source material, though not all of it works. There are still second act problems and a song list void of any real bops, but it's a fun time for the Burton novice and pure fan service for the Burton stans, thanks in large part to the titular puckish undead spirit breathing life into a Broadway experiment that could've been dead in the water."
Peter Marks, theatre critic for The Washington Post, was pleased by the changes made during the show's transition to Broadway, writing: "When last we left Beetlejuice, during its tryout run in November in Washington's National Theatre, the blithe, dizzily antic spirit of the movie was suffocating under the weight of sophomoric, phallic gags. This reworked incarnation, under Alex Timbers's direction, breathes slightly more enjoyably even as it remains too faithful to the pumped-up inclinations of book writers Scott Brown and Anthony King and composer-lyricist Eddie Perfect. This means that the eager-to-please quotient of a musical about the quest by a bevy of souls, alive and dead, to alleviate loneliness, is still amped up a bit too frantically. This may be of more concern to overly entertained theater analysts than to those musical-theater enthusiasts who thrive on the supercharged exertions of an ensemble on hyperdrive. On a measurement scale of energy-output-per-minute, high-octane Beetlejuice would now be the safest ticket in town."
Varietys Frank Rizzo wrote: "... Keeping things entertaining enough are the off-the-wall humor, endless visuals and aural delights, tuneful music and wicked lyrics of Perfect... Brightman is matched in star presence and musical chops by Caruso, as she travels to hell and back without losing her way. McLure and Butler find big laughs, too, as the sweet -- but not too sweet -- a couple who finally find a reason to live after they've died. Dannheisser, as Lydia's dad, grounds the role with sincerity without forgoing the loopy side, too."
|2019||Tony Awards||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Scott Brown & Anthony King||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Eddie Perfect||Nominated|
|Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical||Alex Brightman||Nominated|
|Best Scenic Design in a Musical||David Korins||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design in a Musical||William Ivey Long||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design in a Musical||Kenneth Posner & Peter Nigrini||Nominated|
|Best Sound Design of a Musical||Peter Hylenski||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding Set Design (Play or Musical)||David Korins||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical)||William Ivey Long||Nominated|
|Outstanding Projection Design (Play or Musical)||Peter Nigrini||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Leslie Kritzer||Nominated|
|Drama League Awards||Founder's Award for Excellence in Directing||Alex Timbers||Won|
|Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance Award||Alex Brightman||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Awards||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Leslie Kritzer||Nominated|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical||Scott Brown & Anthony King||Nominated|
|Outstanding Set Design for a Musical||David Korins||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical||William Ivey Long||Nominated|
|Outstanding Projection Design||Peter Nigrini||Nominated|
|Outstanding Wig and Hair Design||Charles G. LaPointe||Nominated|
|Outstanding Puppet Design||Michael Curry||Nominated|
|Broadway.com Audience Awards||Favorite New Musical||Nominated|
|Favorite Leading Actor in a Musical||Alex Brightman||Nominated|
|Favorite Leading Actress in a Musical||Sophia Anne Caruso||Nominated|
|Favorite Featured Actress in a Musical||Kerry Butler||Nominated|
|Favorite Funny Performance||Alex Brightman||Nominated|
|Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female)||Sophia Anne Caruso||Nominated|
|Star of the Year||Alex Brightman||Won|
|Theatre World Awards||Outstanding New York City Stage Debut Performance||Sophia Anne Caruso||Won|