|The Musical. The Musical. The Musical.|
by Michael McDowell
|Premiere||October 14, 2018: National Theatre, Washington, D.C.|
|Productions||2018 Washington, D.C.|
2022 US Tour
Beetlejuice is a 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. The story concerns 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 (after the star; the name is pronounced and often spelled "Beetlejuice"), who is summoned by saying his name three times. One of the new inhabitants is a young girl, Lydia, who is dealing with her mother's death and her neglectful father.
The musical had a tryout 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.). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show played its final performance at the Winter Garden on March 10, 2020. It reopened at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway on April 8, 2022, and closed on January 8, 2023; a US national tour of the production began in December 2022.
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 Beetlejuice) 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 had three readings and two workshops with Alex Brightman in the title role, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia Deetz, and Kerry Butler and Rob McClure as Barbara and Adam Maitland.
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 appears and mocks the idea of living life to the fullest, as it will all be worthless once death comes ("The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing"). Beetlejuice then addresses the audience directly, explaining that, as a demon, he is invisible to all living beings unless he gets a living person to say his name three times, and reveals that he has come up with 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 the Maitlands reason to themselves why they are not ready for a child, they fall to their deaths through unstable floorboards in their home ("Ready, Set, Not Yet").[a] 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. When the Maitlands awaken from their 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"). He reveals to the Maitlands that a new family, the Deetzes, have bought their house and that in order to remain alone, they will have to scare them away, so 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 holding 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 is gone. Praying for her to send a sign that she is 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, they prove to be not scary at all ("Fright of Their Lives"). Beetlejuice becomes frustrated with the couple and abandons them, so they vow to scare the Deetz family away themselves ("Ready Set" (reprise)). Meanwhile, Delia, a woman whom Charles hired to be Lydia's life coach and his secret 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)). He becomes ecstatic however 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' 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 Skye explains to the audience how she has a heart condition where anything shocking could stop her heart but that she is nevertheless excited to be a Girl Scout. She rings the doorbell of the Deetzes' house and is greeted by Lydia, who invites her inside ("Girl Scout"). However, Beetlejuice appears and frightens the poor girl into leaving. He summons more versions of himself to help Lydia scare every visitor that comes to the house ("That Beautiful Sound"). He also tells Lydia that since she lives and works among the dead now, she should also follow their rules, and gives her a copy of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased. But because she is not dead, Lydia cannot open it. Despite this, she realizes it could help her reunite with her mother, and runs to the attic for Barbara and Adam's help. Feeling alone and betrayed again, Beetlejuice talks with his clones about how he wants to leave the house to finally connect with people now that he can be seen. To achieve this, he decides to 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 and the Handbook, afraid of leaving the house. Lydia berates them because she hoped to use the book to summon her dead mother and leaves disappointed and angry. Barbara realizes that all of their fear has held her and Adam back, so they decide to become bolder and better people ("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 to exorcise Barbara and is forced to agree to marry Beetlejuice to stop it ("The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing, Pt. 4"). He 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. Enraged that his plan has failed again, Beetlejuice decides to kill everyone instead ("Good Old Fashioned Wedding").
Lydia and Charles enter the Netherworld and are greeted by Miss Argentina, who along with other Netherworld residents, urges them 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").
The Deetzes return to the house, where Beetlejuice is preparing to kill everyone. Lydia plans to trick him by agreeing to marry him as Charles, Delia, and the Maitlands get the demon 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 sand worm, which eats Juno.
Beetlejuice 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 damage. Lydia accepts that although her mother is gone, there is still so much left to enjoy in life ("Jump in the Line").
- In the US Tour version, Adam and Barbara instead die via electrocution.
Roles and principal casts
|Character||Washington D.C (2018)||Broadway (2019)||Broadway (2022)||US Tour (2022)|
|Beetlejuice||Alex Brightman||Justin Collette|
|Lydia Deetz||Sophia Anne Caruso||Elizabeth Teeter||Isabella Esler|
|Adam Maitland||Rob McClure||David Josefsberg||Will Burton|
|Barbara Maitland||Kerry Butler||Britney Coleman|
|Delia Schlimmer||Leslie Kritzer||Kate Marilley|
|Miss Argentina[a]||N/A||Leslie Kritzer||Michelle Aravena||Danielle Marie Gonzalez|
|Charles Deetz||Adam Dannheisser||Jesse Sharp|
|Maxie Dean||Danny Rutigliano||Brian Vaughn|
|Maxine Dean / Juno[b]||Jill Abramovitz||Zonya Love||Karmine Alers|
|Otho||Kelvin Moon Loh||Abe Goldfarb|
|Skye the Girl Scout||Dana Steingold||Jackera Davis|
- The role of Miss Argentina was added after tryouts in D.C. This role and Delia were done together by Leslie Kritzer in the first Broadway version, but in the 2022 version, the roles were separate.
- The role of Mrs. Shoggoth was renamed Juno during tryouts in D.C.
- † Not included on the Cast Recording.
- ‡ Featured in the original 1988 film.
Washington D.C. (2018)
The musical had a 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 and choreographed by Connor Gallagher, with 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. The cast included Alex Brightman in the title role alongside Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia, Kerry Butler and Rob McClure as Barbara and Adam, Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser as Delia and Charles, Jill Abramovitz and Danny Rutigliano as Maxine and Maxie, and Kelvin Moon Loh as Otho.
Beetlejuice premiered on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre with the same cast and creative team. Previews began on March 28, 2019, with an official opening night on April 25, 2019. David Josefsberg took over the role of Adam in September 2019, and understudy Presley Ryan took over the role of Lydia in February 2020 for the run's last two weeks. Due to a contractual commitment with the theatre to make room for a revival of The Music Man, the production was scheduled to close at the Winter Garden on June 6, 2020. However, after a total of 27 previews and 366 regular performances, the production played its last performance at the Winter Garden on March 10, 2020, before The Broadway League suspended performances of all Broadway productions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The production reopened at the Marquis Theatre on April 8, 2022, with Brightman returning in the title role and Butler, Josefsberg, Dannheisser, Kritzer, Loh, Rutigliano and Steingold reprising their roles. Elizabeth Teeter joined the cast as Lydia, with Michelle Aravena as Miss Argentina and Zonya Love as Maxine Dean/Juno. The production closed at a loss on January 8, 2023, after 679 performances and 27 previews.
U.S. national tour (2022–present)
The show began its US national tour at the Carson Center in Paducah, Kentucky, on December 1, 2022, with tour stops announced into June 2024. Justin Collette plays the title role, with Isabella Esler as Lydia, Britney Coleman as Barbara, and Will Burton as Adam; Timbers again directed and Gallagher choreographed. In Denver, Colorado, U.S. representative Lauren Boebert was escorted from the theater during a September 10, 2023, performance of Beetlejuice. She and her companion were accused of vaping, singing, recording the performance, and groping each other in public. The tour recouped its original investment after 37 weeks on the road.
South Korea (2021)
A Brazilian production began performances at the Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 6, 2023; it is set to play until December 10, 2023. The production is directed by Renata Borges Pimenta in a translation by Claudio Botelho and stars Eduardo Sterblitch in the title role. The show is expected to move to São Paulo in 2024.
Ben Brantley, in The New York Times, 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, in New York Vulture, wrote that the show "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 commented that the musical "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: "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."
Frank Rizzo wrote in Variety: "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 [sic] 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."
Ghostlight released Beetlejuice – The Demos! The Demos! The Demos! on October 30, 2020, compiling material composer-lyricist Perfect recorded between 2014 and 2019 during the development of the musical. It features both final and cut songs from the show as well as commentary by Perfect.
Awards and nominations
|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|
|Theatre World Awards||Outstanding New York City Stage Debut Performance||Sophia Anne Caruso||Won|
- Millward, Tom. "Everything you need to know about Beetlejuice on Broadway", New York Theatre Guide, October 20, 2022
- "Beetlejuice – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2022-12-19.
- Rubin, Rebecca. "Beetlejuice Closing on Broadway in January", Variety, September 20, 2022
- "The Beetlejuice Musical Finds Its Writing Team". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
- Paulson, Michael (2018-03-28). "Beetlejuice Musical Is Heading to Washington, Then Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
- "Kerry Butler, Danny Pudi, Alex Brightman and the Cast of Beetlejuice Workshop Share Behind the Scenes Photos". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- "DC's National Announces World Premiere of Beetlejuice, Bat out of Hell, and More". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
- "Kerry Butler, Rob McClure, Adam Dannheisser, Leslie Kritzer & More Complete the Cast of Beetlejuice". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
- "Broadway finds its Beetlejuice (and Lydia!)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- McPhee, Ryan (2018-08-22). "Kerry Butler, Rob McClure, Leslie Kritzer Join Broadway-Aimed Beetlejuice Musical; Full Cast Announced". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
- McPhee, Ryan (September 13, 2018). "Beetlejuice Musical Sets Spring 2019 Broadway Opening Date". Playbill. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
- "David Josefsberg to Replace Rob McClure in Broadway's Beetlejuice". Broadway.com. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
- Henry, Alan. "Presley Ryan Will Take Over As Lydia In Beetlejuice Through March". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
- "Beetlejuice on Broadway loses its Lydia". February 27, 2020.
- Under the show's contract with the theatre, the producers had agreed to close the production, based on a specified two-week box-office threshold, to make room for a revival of The Music Man, despite Beetlejuice setting a weekly Winter Garden box office record of $1.6 million. See Paulson, Michael (December 9, 2019). "Despite Turnaround, Beetlejuice Being Forced Out of Theater". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 9, 2019. and Lang, Brent (November 18, 2019). "How Beetlejuice: The Musical Became a Broadway Turnaround Story". Variety. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
- "Beetlejuice – Broadway Musical – Original". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2022-12-19.
- Brockington, Ariana. "Beetlejuice Musical Set to Return to Broadway in 2022", The Hollywood Reporter, September 13, 2021; and "Broadway Shuts Down: Performances Canceled Through April 12 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic". Broadway.com. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
- Evans, Greg. "Broadway’s Beetlejuice Announces Complete Cast for Spring Return", Deadline.com, February 10, 2022
- Paulson, Michael. "Beetlejuice to Close on Broadway", The New York Times, September 21, 2022
- "Upcoming Tour Dates". BEETLEJUICE The Musical | Official Tour Website.
- Culwell-Block, Logan. "Full Casting, Tour Route Revealed for Beetlejuice National Tour", Playbill, October 24, 2022
- Wenzel, John (September 6, 2023). "Broadway's "Beetlejuice" a naughtier, louder take on Tim Burton film". The Denver Post. Retrieved September 19, 2023.
- Aguilar, John (September 13, 2023). "Lauren Boebert escorted out of 'Beetlejuice' musical in Denver after 'causing a disturbance'". The Denver Post. Retrieved September 19, 2023.
- Paulson, Michael (September 13, 2023). "Rep. Lauren Boebert Is Ejected From 'Beetlejuice' After a Disturbance". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2023.
- Oladipo, Gloria (September 16, 2023). "Lauren Boebert says she 'fell short of values' after Beetlejuice groping video". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 17, 2023. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
- Wild, Stephi. "Beetlejuice North American Tour Recoups After Only 37 Weeks on the Road", BroadwayWorld, October 30, 2023
- Eun-byel, Im. "It’s show time for ‘'Beetlejuice’'", The Korea Herald, July 10, 2021
- Weway. "Beetlejuice – O Musical, O Musical, O Musical". Cidade das Artes (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2023-09-09.
- Moratelli, Valmir. "Bruno de Luca becomes a joke in the ghost musical Beetlejuice, Veja, October 9, 2023
- ""Sverigepremiär för musikalen Beetlejuice"". Ostgotateatern.se. June 21, 2023.
- "Broadway Blockbuster Beetlejuice Lands In Melbourne". Premier of Victoria. August 14, 2020.
- Brantley, Ben (2019-04-25). "Review: In 'Beetlejuice,' the Afterlife Is Exhausting". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
- Holdren, Sara (April 25, 2019). "Theater Review: Beetlejuice Is Best When It's at Its Most Antic". www.vulture.com. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
- Romano, Nick (April 25, 2019). "'Beetlejuice' comes to Broadway with a fun jaunt through the Netherworld: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
- Marks, Peter (April 25, 2019). "Review: 'Beetlejuice' cleans up its act for Broadway. It's not a raging success, but it'll do". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
- Rizzo, Frank (2019-04-26). "Broadway Review: 'Beetlejuice'". Variety. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
- "Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording)". Ghostlight Records. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
- "Beetlejuice Broadway Cast Recording Surpasses 200 Million Streams in the US and 350 Million Streams Globally". BroadwayWorld.com. February 14, 2020. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
- Culwell-Block, Logan (October 30, 2020). "Beetlejuice Musical Demo Album, Including Cut Songs, Released October 30". Playbill. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
- Nordyke, Kimberly (2019-06-09). "Tony Award full list winners 2019". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2022-09-21.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (2019-04-23). "Hadestown, Tootsie & Oklahoma! Lead 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (2019-04-17). "Nominations Announced for 85th Annual Drama League Awards". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Drama Desk Nomination – theatrelife". theatrelife.com. 2019-04-25. Retrieved 2019-04-30.