Beetlejuice: The Musical

The Review. The Review. The Review.

Kenneth Apana-Korley, Staff Editor

With the announcement of the closing date for Beetlejuice last December (June 6th, 2020), and the surprise departure of Sophia Anne Caruso from the show, I think it’s high time for everyone to learn truly what the musical is and how it compares to the cult-classic movie of the same name. Is the show worth the money? How were the technical elements? How was the acting? Is it better than the original? Finally, was it worth a day in the rain in New York City?

A Quick Synopsis:

The show is about Lydia Deetz (Sophia Anne Caruso), who after the death of her mother, was quickly uprooted by her businessman father, Charles (Adam Dannheisser). The family moves into the Maitland residence with Lydia’s life coach and Charles’ lover, Delia (Leslie Kritzer). Meanwhile, the newly deceased Maitlands, Adam and Barbara (played by David Josefsburg and Kerry Butler, respectively) are recruited by the demon known as Beetlejuice (Alex Brightman) in a last-ditch effort for him to live on the mortal plane. Beetlejuice and Lydia, who eventually become acquainted, start working together to be noticed by those around them.

The Stagecraft:

Every show on Broadway needs a unique set and stage to work with. Each theater is chosen carefully to match the needs of the show. A special feature of the Winter Garden Theater is the fact that it has a hole in the center of the stage. This hole was implemented in many aspects of the performance. In the very beginning of the show, they raise and lower a coffin through the hole during the songs “Prologue: Invisible,” and “The Whole Being Dead Thing.” This hole was also used to kill off the Maitlands at the beginning of the show. The hole was covered up by different parts of the stage and different set pieces as not to distract from the rest of the show.

Another interesting aspect of the set was the fact that the interior house drastically changed 3 times during the show. Most of the changes were made through the use of lighting, but there were quite a few set pieces and furniture items that were replaced during different portions of the show. It was fascinating to see each piece and how the power dynamics between the characters influenced each major set change. The most impressive part of the whole show would definitely have to be the Sandworm. The animatronic puppet was extremely colorful and in my opinion, a lot more aesthetically pleasing than the Sandworm in Tim Burton’s 1988 film. The use of purples, blues, and greys really helped with the storytelling aspect and were more memorable and vivid than black and white striped patterns across the entirety of the stage.

The Acting:

Beetlejuice: The Musical

Besides the tech of the show, there were many memorable moments from the actors on stage. The actors made each song feel unique to them. Additionally, with a small cast and ensemble, there were some leading and supporting actors who also played other minor characters during the show. My favorite one of those moments would have to be when Kritzer, who plays Delia, was able to get into costume and makeup for Miss Argentina. To me, this was so fascinating because she went from not having any body paint, to wearing green body paint for a good 10 minutes for a song and dance number, then finally being back in her original costume 15 minutes after that. Alex Brightman was such a wonderful personality on the stage.  He interacted with the audience in a way that was comedic while also staying in the movement of his character. Musically, the show was incredible. My favorite song would have to be “No Reason,” a comedic duet between Lydia and Delia about why things happen in the world.

Better Than the Original?

In my opinion, it’s definitely up there, but you can’t compare the show to the movie on any level. It’s like comparing Aladdin on Broadway to any of the movies; each one is independent of each other and should be reviewed as such. A parent shouldn’t compare their children to each other or pick a favorite, and I couldn’t rate one to be better than the other. I will say that the musical did diverge from the source material quite a bit, but that is common of musicals made from movies. As a show, it was definitely magnificent, and the story told was a balance between dark and comedic.

Worth It?

The answer is a resounding “YES!” The show is worth every cent, pain-inducing step, and overpriced gift shop souvenir in New York. Every aspect of the show was unique and new. It was breathtaking. I’m surprised it hasn’t won a single Tony.

Beetlejuice: The Musical will be on Broadway until June 6th, which leaves plenty of time to see it! Of course, it’s sad to see Sophia Anne Caruso leave her role as Lydia, but I’m ready to see Presley Ryan step up to the plate and finish off these last few months in her own way.