I was in Washington, DC the week before Halloween on a family trip when I saw an ad on the subway for Beetlejuice: The Musical. Naturally, I flipped out. I mean, it’s Beetlejuice, a movie I’ve been obsessed with since my middle school “goth” phase. Lucky for me, my musical-loving baby sis was taking the train down from NYC for the weekend! I convinced her (very easily, I might add) to go see Beetlejuice: The Musical with me that Friday night. We entered the National Theater not knowing what to expect and left with words like “Tony worthy” flying out of our mouths (yes, it was that good). With Beetlejuice: The Musical rounding out the DC run and headed to NYC soon, I knew I just had to write up a post* on this raunchy, rowdy musical comedy.
*note: this post contains spoilers about Beetlejuice: The Musical
You’re probably a fan of the 1988 Beetlejuice movie (but really, who isn’t?) since you clicked on this post. While Beetlejuice the movie and Beetlejuice: The Musical have the same characters and basic plot points, they are pretty different from each other.
Act I follows the movie pretty closely. Adorable (and fairly boring) couple Barbara and Adam die in an accident and have to adjust to the afterlife. A new family moves into their home, made up of a father (Charles), daughter (Lydia), and a life coach (Delia – who is not Lydia’s mother in this version). Barbara and Adam aren’t too happy about a new family moving in and changing everything about their home and decide, with the help of Beetlejuice, a nasty ghoul, that they should start haunting it. One slight problem: Barbara and Adam aren’t very scary.
Beetlejuice sets his sights on Lydia, urging her to say his name three times in order to summon him. She has made friends with Barbara and Adam, hoping they can pull off frightening her father and his friends instead of the new ghoul. Again, Barbara and Adam are not exactly a frightening pair, so they aren’t very successful. At this point, Lydia says “Beetlejuice” three times, hoping that he will be able to help her during that dinner party scene.
After Lydia decides to summon Beetlejuice, the musical goes in another direction for Act II while staying true to the spirit (pun intended) of the movie. In the musical, Lydia essentially summons Beetlejuice to get back at her father, who she feels has moved on too quickly after the death of her mother. Lydia is more than eager to assist Beetlejuice with the haunting of the home her father and his friends fled. Barbara and Adam are still around, lying low in the attic and pulling off some impressive songs. Eventually, Charles decides that it is time to get Lydia back. He and Delia (his now fiance) recruit her guru and all around strange fellow, Otho, to help cleanse the home of its supernatural residents.
Naturally, things do not go as planned and Lydia and Charles end up in the Netherworld. While we don’t see a supernatural waiting room (like in the movie), favorites from the movie do make appearances! The audience is treated to a dead boy band introductory song to the Netherworld, a highlight of the show. Upon discovering that Lydia and her father are alive, the secretary to the Netherworld sends the boy band to kill them. Lydia and her father escape and make up while singing another great tune before heading back to earth, where they have a plan to get rid of Beetlejuice once and for all.
The show reaches its climax with a surprise wedding, memorable tunes, a crazy plot twist, fantastic puppets, and lots of vulgar jokes. By the end of the show, all is well in the home. The final number reflects the ending of the movie, with the group cleaning and singing “Jump in the Line“. It’s WILD. Seriously, you have to see it for yourself.
The DC Cast
Part of what made Beetlejuice so great was the talent-packed cast! Tony Award winner Alex Brightman plays the titular Beetlejuice. Brightman is no stranger to movie-to-stage adaptations, as his most recent gig was playing Dewey in School of Rock – The Musical. Actual teen Sophia Ann Caruso plays the female lead as Lydia. Caruso has had a super busy career already, especially after her Off-Broadway and West End stint in Lazarus. I don’t see Caruso slowing down any time soon.
Kerry Butler returns to the National Theater as Barbara after receiving a Tony nomination for her roles as Mrs. George/Mrs. Norberry/Mrs. Herron in Mean Girls. Butler has an incredible skill of transforming her voice to fit whatever character she’s playing, which adds great depth to Barbara. Butler’s Barbara is complimented by Rob McClure‘s Adam. McClure is another Broadway familiar, known for shows like Honeymoon in Vegas and Chaplin, who brings some serious harmonies and dance skills to the cast. Leslie Kritzer adds both vocal and comedic talent to the show as Delia. Adam Dannheiser (Charles) and Kelvin Moon Loh (Otho) round out the fantastic cast. While the NYC cast has yet to be announced, I’m willing to bet at least a few of these actors will be making the move to the Winter Garden Theater in the spring.
Music is the backbone of every musical (shocking, I know). The music in Beetlejuice mirrors the plot: campy at times, uncomfortable at others, and all around great. I’d never finish writing this post if I got into detail about every musical number, so I’m just going to highlight my favorites!
First is opening number: “The Whole Being Dead Thing”. TWBDT is about death, contains some prop comedy, and calls out a number of other Broadway shows for their highs and lows. This number sets up the whole show and very clearly introduces the fact that Beetlejuice: The Musical is not a place for children. Next is “Children That We Didn’t Have”, performed by Barbara and Adam a little ways into Act II. As the title suggests, this ballad is about the children that the couple was not able to have since they died. Butler and McClure really shine in this number (as evident by the couples sitting around us that were crying by the end).
Another highlight is “Everything is Meh”. This 90’s style jam is, of course, performed by a boy band, called Boy Inferno, in the Netherworld. I have heard it all of one time and can still sing the chorus because it is so dang catchy. Next is “Creepy Old Guy”, a song about Lydia’s marriage to a man much too old for her. It’s kind of off-putting at points, but really moves the show along. Finally, the show includes the two songs from the original movie: “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jump in the Line”. These two offer so much nostalgia and serve as great endings to Act I and Act II, respectively.
Welp, you’ve made it this far, so you are obviously itching to get tickets for this fantastic show! The DC run of Beetlejuice began on October 14 and ends November 18, which means you have to hurry if you’re hoping to see the show in DC. Tickets start at $64. If you’re wanting to see the show in NYC, Beetlejuice officially opens April 25, 2019 in the Winter Garden Theater (which, theater nerds know previously housed School of Rock). Previews start March 28, 2019 and tickets are available now!
If you’re like me, you love a good musical (like Beetlejuice)! Let me know what your favorite musical is in the comments below.