Beetlejuice The Musical: Review Review Review

Say it three times, Beetlejuice has arrived in Washington, DC at the National Theatre, just in time for Halloween. As you may recall, Beetlejuice originated as a Tim Burton film, acclaimed for its macabre sense of humor.

I was fortunate enough to snag a ticket (in the very back of course) to this five-week only event. Despite my suspicion for good film to stage musicals, I was excited what would be done with the source material. First thing to note, Beetlejuice is definitely a showstopper type musical; flashing lights, fire, giant snakes and extravagant costumes, if you were expecting subtlety you would be bitterly disappointed. I was also impressed with the shows use of the space. It was not a minimalistic type musical; the use of the set was ever changing.

Second thing to note, the cast was great. The titular role of Beetlejuice was played by Alex Brightman (School of Rock, Matilda, Wicked) and he portrayed the dark, comical, asshole type of Beetlejuice extremely well. The audience laughed with him at every turn.

As I said, I appreciated the extravagant set design and hilarious cast. Where Beetlejuice fell flat for me, however, was the music. There were a few catchy tunes throughout, but honestly, the most memorable songs were not the originals, but the two that appeared in the film (such as Jump In The Line).

As was pointed out to me, the first few songs were basically reprises of each other. This is a common element of musical theatre of course, to connect themes throughout. By the third time I heard it however, I was bored. The music almost seemed to blur together.

In addition, there were notably several long ballads. Of course, there are usually one or two in a musical to slow down the pace and give some character background. However, it felt that at every turn someone (particularly Lydia) had a ballad.

This does fit Lydia’s depressed, dark, and melancholy character, but it also slows down the musical dramatically. When you hear Beetlejuice, you definitely think of dark, but you also think of the upbeat quality of the humor.

To be fair, Beetlejuice’s upbeat type did level out Lydia, and the actress portraying Lydia (Sophia Anne Caruso) has a great voice, but I still felt that they were lacking more meaningful yet quicker paced songs. The scale either tipped to depressing ballad or to slapstick-type showstopper.

If you are a die-hard fan of Beetlejuice or other Tim Burton classics, you will probably enjoy Beetlejuice The Musical. They do throw in the proper amount of Easter eggs and do well with sticking to source material. Beetlejuice is definitely the type of musical you have to see, not just hear.

While the amazing set will make your jaw drop and the cast will make you laugh uncontrollably, you’ll find yourself wanting the songs to be over just so they can get to the next section of dialogue.