Beetlejuice Musical

Over the years, there have been rumblings of a sequel to Tim Burton’s horror comedy classic Beetlejuice, but the plans never seem to come together. In the meantime, a different take on the ghost with the most is making its way to Broadway in the form of a stage musical adaptation of the movie, and the first photo of the “younger, punkier” Beetlejuice has arrived along with some new details on the show.

Entertainment Weekly revealed this photo of actor Alex Brightman (from the School of Rock musical) as Beetlejuice:

Beetlejuice Musical First Look

The hair isn’t quite as wild as Michael Keaton’s take on the character, and his face isn’t nearly as grotesque, but that striped suit still gives us the right kind of Beetlejuice vibes. At the end of the day, fans don’t necessarily want someone trying to be Michael Keaton again. In fact, director Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) explains that Brightman won’t simply be trying to impersonate Michael Keaton’s iconic performance as Beetlejuice:

“One of the things I love about Alex is, not only is he a great theater performer, but he’s also a writer, so he brings a sensibility that can stand outside the performance. [His Beetlejuice] is definitely not a Michael Keaton impression. It’s his own. It’s filtered through the sensibility of Alex Brightman.”

As for the story of the musical adaptation, it’s not all that different from the movie. The recently deceased Maitlands (played in the movie by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) must deal with the annoying presence of the snobby Deetzes (played by Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones) in their country home. However, they do take a liking to the darker, morbid Lydia Deetz, a teen who will be played by Sophia Anne Caruso, and who is more at the center of the stage version of the story. Timbers explains:

“Refocusing the story on Lydia’s emotional journey, Lydia’s relationship to Beetlejuice — who were [both] more like secondary characters in the film — felt like a great way in. Beetlejuice and Lydia are both trickster figures, in a way. Certainly Beetlejuice is, but musical theater has a great history of con men as characters when you think about Bialystock and Bloom [in The Producers] or Harold Hill in The Music Man, so it felt to me that the DNA of those two characters felt like great musical theater protagonists in the way they work off each other.”

Meanwhile, when it comes to Beetlejuice, it sounds like he’ll have a little extra comedic power because he’ll be breaking the fourth wall to address the audience while creating plenty of trouble in the story too. Timbers elaborates:

“He’s one of those characters in film that that you can imagine breaking the fourth wall, and I think in theater, you want these characters that vibrate with life and can kick over the footlights and land in your lap. That’s Beetlejuice. He can directly address the audience. He can be an unreliable narrator. He can be a Loki figure, you know? He can be a god of chaos, and that’s really exciting.”

Obviously since this is a musical, fans are expecting the famous “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)” scene (above) to have quite the presence. However, it won’t play out exactly as it does in the movie. Timbers says, “The dinner party scene is in the show, but where it exists and how it functions and how the music functions is surprising.”

As for the rest of the music, the adaptation features an original score by Eddie Prefect (the stage adaptation of King Kong) and a book by Scott Brown and Anthony King. Surely we’ll hear much more about how it all turned out after Beetlejuice debuts at Washington’s National Theatre on November 4 before moving to Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre for an opening on April 25.

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