Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! – Review

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Grace Daniel

Beetlejuice, housed at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, has amassed a huge fanbase following its release (Photo courtesy of Grace Daniel).

You’d have to live under a rock to not know the acclaimed 1988 Beetlejuice movie, a classic story combining humor with creeps. However, this new Beetlejuice is not only just as popular, but in a new form — on Broadway.

The musical adaptation of this film hit Broadway on October 14, 2018, and in a little over a year it’s already become a smash hit. With performances constantly selling out and the show nominated for dozens of awards, it’s taken the musical world by storm. A fun musical with a wonderful medley of humor and heart to boot, Beetlejuice the musical is a fantastic watch — or even just a listen — that everyone should check out. 

Those who are expecting the same as the film are in for a surprise. Countless headlines have expressed the differences between the musical and the movie, with Brightman himself expressing that “[they] are not doing the movie on stage”. 

“We are taking a source material and elevating it to its highest possible form, that you only can do this version on stage. And I think that is what people are not going to expect,” said Brightman.

The musical provides many new spins on the well-loved story. The movie tells the story of the Maitlands, a recently deceased couple, and Betelgeuse, a mischievous demon, haunting the Maitlands’ original home in an attempt to scare away the new owners: the Deetz family. 

The musical tells a similar story, but with key differences: for one, while in the movie Lydia’s mother is alive, but in the musical, it opens with her funeral. The character of Delia stays mainly the same, besides the detail that she’s Lydia’s “life coach” instead of her mother. While this character stays the same, it revolutionizes the interactions and relationships between the daughter and father, making it much more nuanced. Similar to this, there are countless small but important details that greatly help flesh out the characters in new ways.

“I think the music adds an extra cool aspect to it…it’s fascinating how they took aspects from the movie and turned it into something that can be performed live,” said sophomore Ella Banks.

The musical is a fun experience from start to finish. The soundtrack has a variety of great songs, from the humorous 4th-wall-breaking in “The Whole ‘Being Dead’ Thing” to the sad but incredible vocals of “Dead Mom” to the heartwarming “What I Know Now” and “Home”.

“It’s probably cliche, but ‘Dead Mom’ [is my favorite song]. I love singing it,” said Banks.

The visuals are striking. Kenneth Posner, the lead light designer, uses a variety of vibrant and high contrasting colors to make it full of energy. Designed by David Korins, what is described as a “gothic funhouse set is used for the set design, mixing eerie spooks with energetic design. Mechanical aspects are also utilized, such as an animatronic giant snake used in multiple scenes.

“The choreography was super impressive. I loved when all of the different Beetlejuices came out for [‘That Beautiful Sound’]. it was really cool,” said freshman Sofia Bates.

Peyton Ludwig
The “Beetlejuice” hashtag alone has 817.6 million views, providing a testament to its popularity on the app (Photo courtesy of Peyton Ludwig).

With this level of quality and fun, its great surge in popularity should be a surprise to no one. One of the more popular social media platforms is TikTok, where users can use audio from any song or media they want to put in 15 to 60 second videos. Excerpts from popular songs from the musical such as “What I Know Now” and “Say My Name” have been used in thousands of videos.

“I found out about [the musical] through TikTok. I kept hearing the songs so I checked it out, and now I’m really into it,” said Bates.

Despite overwhelming positive response, the musical is facing closure. They will be leaving Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre in June of 2020, much to fans’ dismay. This is because it’s being kicked out by The Shubert Organization to make room for the revival of The Music Man

“I haven’t [heard about that]. That’s really sad though; it was an amazing production,” said sophomore Kathleen Hunter.

Back in May, the organization invoked a clause in their contract which allows them to dismiss a show when grosses fall below an agreed-upon level for two weeks in a row. Since then, however, Beetlejuice has surged in popularity, breaking box office records and becoming the top streaming Broadway cast album of the 2018-2019 season. However, the organization had already reached an agreement with the producer of The Music Man, which makes Beetlejuice’s chances slim.

The Shubert Organization has declined to comment about the situation, besides stating that “if an appropriate theater becomes available, we would certainly talk about moving the show.”

Overall, Beetlejuice the musical is a successful adaptation that not only respects the source material but builds upon it. Its combination of heart and humor makes for a funny and satisfying watch, and even the soundtrack alone has great writing and character. While it may face closing, it will still live on in its popularity and fanbase.