For a long time I refused to see Beetlejuice on principle. It's a movie musical, and unless I'm very committed to the source material (ex. Mean Girls), I usually don't bother. For the past several months however, I've been hearing rumblings that this show is surprisingly good. Last weekend, I decided to give it a shot.
From the moment I walked in the theater I was immersed in this show. The room was lit with hues of purple and blue and there was a giant Betelguese sign on the stage. To add to the effect, they had creepy music playing loudly in the background. At first it seemed corny, but it quickly grew on me.
The show starts with a big sad funeral ballad. This is a pretty big departure from the source material. Before you can be confused or offended, Beetlejuice, played by Alex Brightman, steps out on stage, snorts of line of coke off his sleeve, and acknowledges the situation. I'm immediately sold.
From there, we go into a hilarious song, The Whole "Being Dead" Thing. They let us know, this is a show about death. During the next few songs, we see the deaths of Barbara and Adam, played by Kerry Butler and Adam Dannheisser respectively. Throughout this entire medley, I was sitting in my seat, laughing loudly and annoying the people around to me. Sorry.
Shortly after, Lydia, played by Sophia Anne Caruso, comes on stage and sings the song Dead Mom. This song made me feel like the grinch, my heart growing 10 sizes inside my chest. It was a blunt, funny, song about having a dead mom. I have a dead mom, this song was written for me, representation matters, including when it comes to dead parents.
As acknowledged, this show differed quite a bit from the source material. You could argue they really only kept the premise and the characters, but it works. The original movie was fairly short and many of the characters were underdeveloped to be in a full length musical.
For me, the dead mom plot-line was a welcome addition. It gave me a reason to care about Lydia, and it makes her entire family more sympathetic. Even Delia has been reworked into a lovable, albeit dim, character.
The show was consistently funny. I found myself laughing for over two hours.
The music was fun, but derivative. So much that I'm comfortable using the word derivative. Listening to the soundtrack, I'm constantly trying to figure out what musical is being imitated. That Beautiful Sound is clearly a reworked Popular fromWicked. The ending notes of Jump in the Line reminds me of In The Heights. That said, it's a very fun soundtrack, and I've been listening to it since I saw the show.
I love saying this show is way better than it has any right to be. It's a campy movie musical, but it owns that. As a result, we get to have a lot of fun to a mostly familiar story. I'd definitely recommend seeing it.