Beetlejuice (musical)

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The Musical. The Musical. The Musical.
MusicEddie Perfect
BookScott Brown
Anthony King
by Michael McDowell
Warren Skaaren
Larry Wilson
PremiereOctober 14, 2018: National Theatre, Washington, D.C.
Productions2018 Washington, D.C.
2019 Broadway

Beetlejuice is a stage 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, about 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 (pronounced "Beetlejuice"), who is summoned by saying his name three times.

The musical premiered 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.).


A beautiful mess of a musical... 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 Betelgeuse) 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.[1] The musical has had three readings and two laboratory workshops with Alex Brightman in the title role, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia Deetz, Kerry Butler and Rob McClure as Barbara and Adam Maitland.[2][3]


The musical premiered its 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, choreographed by Connor Gallagher, 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.[4][5]

On August 16, it was announced that Alex Brightman would star as the title role alongside Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia Deetz, after playing the roles in the workshops.[6]

On August 22, the full casting was announced including Kerry Butler (after appearing in workshops) and Rob McClure as Barbara and Adam Maitland, Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser as Delia and Charles Deetz, Jill Abramovitz and Danny Rutigliano as Maxine and Maxi Dean and Kelvin Moon Loh as Otho. The ensemble will include Tessa Alves, Johnny Brantley, Ryan Breslin, Brooke Engen, Abe Goldfarb, Eric Anthony Johnson, Elliott Mattox, Mateo Melendez, George Merrick, Ramone Owens, Devin Roberts, Presley Ryan, Kim Sava, and Dana Steingold.[7]

Broadway Production at the Winter Garden Theatre

On September 6, it was announced that following its Washington D.C. tryout, the musical will open during the 2018-19 season on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre with previews beginning on March 28, 2019, and an official opening night on April 25, 2019.[8]

Musical numbers[edit]

Washington, DC (Pre-Broadway)[edit]

  • * = song featured in the original 1988 film.
  • † = Cut after tryouts in DC

After tryouts in DC, the musical number "Everything is Meh" was completely reimagined due to complaints of the number seeming out of sync with the rest of the show and was replaced on Broadway by a different scene, in which Miss Argentina (previously M.I.A from the show) performs the new musical number titled "What I Know Now".


  • * = song featured in the original 1988 film.
  • † Not included on the Original Broadway Cast Recording.

Cast recording[edit]

The Original Broadway Cast Recording was released digitally on June 7, 2019, by Ghostlight Records.[9]


Act 1[edit]

The show opens on Emily Deetz's funeral. As the pastor speaks, Emily's daughter Lydia reflects on the death of her mother and her own inability to be noticed by her father, Charles, who struggles to cope with the loss of his wife. Just at the end, Beetlejuice jumps in, mocking the sad scene ("Prologue: Invisible"). Beetlejuice directly addresses the audience, and ridicules the people who believe in living life to the fullest, as he believes that it is pointless because it will all be worthless once death comes ("The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing"). Beetlejuice then tells the Audience that he's a demon from hell and is literally invisible as everyone can't see him, but as long as someone says his name 3 times, he will no longer be invisible and he has a plan.

Beetlejuice then introduces Adam and Barbara Maitland. They are a normal married couple who desperately want to start a family, but they are not emotionally ready and instead express their anxiety that they will fail at parenthood by projecting their parental energies into taking care of various delicate things such as antiques and pottery as safer/easier surrogates for a baby. As Adam and Barbara reason to themselves why they're not ready for a child, they fall to their untimely death due to unstable floorboards ("Ready Set, Not Yet"). "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, which will allow him to be seen by all living beings. When Barbara and Adam awaken from their fatal 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").

Beetlejuice reveals to the Maitlands that the Deetzes have bought their house and moved from New York City and if they want to save their house and everything in it, they need to hire him to teach them how to scare the new owners away and they agree as Beetlejuice tells them to get to the attic to begin ("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 having 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's gone. Praying for her mother to send a sign that she's 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, Barbara and Adam are not scary at all ("Fright of their Lives"). Then Beetlejuice leaves saying they are too helpless and beyond his help. So the Maitlands try to haunt the house by themselves anyway in hopes of scaring the Deetzes away ("Ready Set Reprise"). Meanwhile, Delia, a woman Charles hired to be Lydia's life coach and is secretly his 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, but retreat to the attic after they are very surprised that she can see them because living people can usually not see ghosts. 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 Lydia's mom, Lydia storms out wishing she was dead.

On the roof, a depressed Beetlejuice laments that he will never be seen. Lydia then comes up to the roof, planning to kill herself by jumping off. When Lydia reveals that she can see Beetlejuice, he becomes ecstatic ("Invisible Reprise/On the Roof"). He tries to convince Lydia not to kill herself and tells her that he can help get revenge on her dad if she says his name three times in a row. The Maitlands come to check on Lydia only to be possessed by Beetlejuice into saying positive things about him to further convince Lydia. Upon seeing and learning that any ghost can possess, regardless of skill, Lydia decides not to work with Beetlejuice and instead work with the Maitlands to hatch a plan to ruin Charles' dinner party ("Say My Name").

At the dinner party, Barbara and Adam possess Charles, Delia, and the guests into a possessed dance ("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 scaring and throwing Charles, Delia and the investors out of the house much to Lydia's joy.

Act 2[edit]

A young Girl Scout named Sky skips down the road, explaining to the audience how she has a heart disease where any shocking thing could stop her heart, but nevertheless is excited to be a Girl Scout. She rings the doorbell of the Deetzes' house to be greeted by Lydia, who invites her inside ("Girl Scout"). Beetlejuice appears and frightens the poor girl into leaving the house. He summons more versions of himself to help Lydia scare every visitor that comes into the house ("That Beautiful Sound"). Beetlejuice tells Lydia that now that she lives and works among the dead, she should also follow their rules, and gives her "The Handbook for the Recently Deceased". However, because she is not dead, Lydia can't open it. She runs to the attic for Barbara and Adam's help, leaving Beetlejuice, in favor for her search for her mom. Feeling once again alone and betrayed, Beetlejuice talks with his clones about how even though he can be seen, he wants to leave the house to finally connect with people. He decides he must trick Lydia into helping him with the old "bait and switch" trick ("That Beautiful Sound Reprise").

In the attic, Barbara and Adam help Lydia open the Handbook, where they realize they should have gone straight to the Netherworld. Adam opens the door to the Netherworld, but Barbara shuts it, afraid of leaving the house and of change. Lydia berates them because she hoped to use the book to summon her dead mother. She exits the attic in disappointment and anger. Barbara realizes that all of their fear has held the Maitlands back, and she and Adam decide to become bolder and better. Not only for themselves, but also to help Lydia ("Barbara 2.0").

Delia and Charles reenter the house in an attempt to rescue Lydia. Delia has also brought along her guru Otho, as he claims that he has a machine that can help exorcise the ghosts. Beetlejuice tricks Lydia by telling her that by saying a passage from the book she can bring her Mom back but instead exorcises Barbara and in order to save her, Beetlejuice forces Lydia to marry him, which will allow him to be alive and leave the house. To save Barbara and everyone from his wrath, Lydia agrees to marry Beetlejuice ("The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing Pt. 4"). When Beetlejuice stops the exorcism and frees everyone, he opens a door to the Netherworld to send the Maitlands away for good. But, Lydia jumps in to both escape him and find Emily, with Charles following after her ("Good Old Fashion Wedding").

Lydia and Charles enter the Netherworld to be greeted by Ms. Argentina, who tells them to go back and that life is better than death and Lydia shouldn't give it all up yet from previous experiences that she and the other denizens of the Netherworld had been through ("What I Know Now"). Still wanting to reunited with Emily, Lydia frantically searches the Netherworld for her mother while on the run from Juno, who want to make Lydia and Charles deceased to follow the rules of the afterlife, but is unable to find her. Charles finds Lydia in distress and reconciles with her, agreeing to acknowledge that she's gone and talk about her ("Home").

Lydia and Charles return to the house while Beetlejuice is planning to kill everyone. Lydia enters and tricks him into believing she actually wants to marry him as Charles, Delia, and the Maitlands get him ready ("Creepy Old Guy"). After the wedding, Beetlejuice is alive and goes through a wave of emotions: happiness, fear, sadness, and anger. Lydia stabs him, making him recently deceased. Everyone tries to send him to the Netherworld but his mother—Juno—shows up to bring Lydia back to the Netherworld for good. 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. Juno then decides that the Maitlands and the Deetzes will go to the Netherworld together. Beetlejuice then crashes through the wall riding a sandworm, which then devours Juno.

Beetlejuice decides to search for his father, happily suggesting a sequel, and says his last goodbyes to everyone before leaving. The Deetzes and Maitlands agree to share the house as they clean up and repair the damages done to it. As they clean and have fun, Lydia sings about finally accepting that she will never see her mom again, but will always love and miss her while enjoying her new life ("Jump In The Line").

Cast and characters[edit]

Character Workshop (2017) Washington, D.C. (2018) Broadway (2019)
Betelgeuse/Beetlejuice Alex Brightman[10]
Lydia Deetz Sophia Anne Caruso
Barbara Maitland Kerry Butler
Adam Maitland Danny Pudi Rob McClure
Delia Deetz/Miss Argentina Jackie Burns Leslie Kritzer
Charles Deetz Adam Dannheisser
Maxine Dean/Juno Jill Abramovitz
Maxie Dean Danny Rutigliano
Otho Kelvin Moon Loh
Sky Dana Steingold

Critical response[edit]

The New York Times's Ben Brantley 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."[11]

Sara Holdren, writing for New York's Vulture, wrote: "Beetlejuice, the rowdy, raunchy musical adapted from Tim Burton's 1988 horror-comedy, 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."[12]

Nick Romano from Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Beetlejuice... 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."[13]

Peter Marks, theatre critic for The Washington Post, was pleased by the changes made during the show's transition to Broadway, writing: "When last we left Beetlejuice, 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. Which 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."[14]

Variety's Frank Rizzo wrote: "... 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 and Butler find big laughs, too, as the sweet — but not too sweet — couple who finally find a reason to live after they've died. Dannheiser, as Lydia'a dad, grounds the role with sincerity without forgoing the loopy side, too."[15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
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[16] 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[17] 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
Leslie Kritzer Nominated
Drama Desk Awards[18] 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 Audience Awards[19] Favorite New Musical Nominated
Favorite Leading Actor in a Musical Alex Brightman Nominated
Favorite Leading Actress in a Musical Sophia Anne Caruso Nominated
Favorite Featured Actress in a Musical Kerry Butler Nominated
Favorite Funny Performance Alex Brightman Nominated
Leslie Kritzer Nominated
Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female) Sophia Anne Caruso Nominated


  1. ^ "The Beetlejuice Musical Finds Its Writing Team". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  2. ^ Paulson, Michael (2018-03-28). "'Beetlejuice' Musical Is Heading to Washington, Then Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  3. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Kerry Butler, Danny Pudi, Alex Brightman and the Cast of Beetlejuice Workshop Share Behind the Scenes Photos". Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  4. ^ Desk, BWW News. "DC's National Announces World Premiere of Beetlejuice, Bat out of Hell, and More". Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  5. ^ "Kerry Butler, Rob McClure, Adam Dannheisser, Leslie Kritzer & More Complete the Cast of Beetlejuice". Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  6. ^ "Broadway finds its Beetlejuice (and Lydia!)". Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  7. ^ McPhee, Ryan (2018-08-22). "Kerry Butler, Rob McClure, Leslie Kritzer Join Broadway-Aimed Beetlejuice Musical; Full Cast Announced". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  8. ^ McPhee, Ryan (September 13, 2018). "Beetlejuice Musical Sets Spring 2019 Broadway Opening Date". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  9. ^ "Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording)". Ghostlight Records. Retrieved 2019-06-07.
  10. ^ "Alex Brightman on Instagram: "Back to it. @beetlejuicebway #ItsShowtime"". Instagram. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  11. ^ Brantley, Ben (2019-04-25). "Review: In 'Beetlejuice,' the Afterlife Is Exhausting". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  12. ^ Holdren, Sara (April 25, 2019). "Theater Review: Beetlejuice Is Best When It's at Its Most Antic". Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  13. ^ Romano, Nick (April 25, 2019). "'Beetlejuice' comes to Broadway with a fun jaunt through the Netherworld: EW review". Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Rizzo, Frank (2019-04-26). "Broadway Review: 'Beetlejuice'". Variety. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  16. ^ Lefkowitz, Andy (2019-04-23). "Hadestown, Tootsie & Oklahoma! Lead 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations". Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  17. ^ Lefkowitz, Andy (2019-04-17). "Nominations Announced for 85th Annual Drama League Awards". Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  18. ^ "Drama Desk Nomination – theatrelife". 2019-04-25. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  19. ^ Evans, George (2019-04-19). "'Be More Chill', 'Pretty Woman' Top Broadway's Audience Choice Awards". Retrieved 2019-05-19.

External links[edit]