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Beetlejuice the Musical is Worth Not Getting Kicked Out Of
It's a fun show to catch on its national tour.
Last week, when a certain attention-addicted congresswoman from my home-state of Colorado made national headlines for causing a scene at a Denver performance of the musical “Beetlejuice” (before she denied the reports, only to reverse her denial after security footage confirmed the reports), my first thought, believe it or not, wasn’t “Yeah, that sounds like something she’d do.” (That was my second thought, but not my first one.)
No, my first thought was, “Hey, that’s the show I’m going to next week.”
My wife bought tickets for our family almost a year ago, in part because she has fond memories of her mother taking her to the Buell Theatre when she was a teen to see shows like Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. Also, our son loves “Beetlejuice” the movie (it’s one of his favorites), and both he and our daughter worked on tech crews for various high-school plays and musicals where they formed a taste for the performing arts. Oddly enough, I’ve never seen the movie, and I’m not a big musical guy, but I do love spending time with my family, so it was an easy sell.
Plus, after that vapy, handsy, bird-flipping, “Do you know who I am?” fiasco from last week, I figured the Dalys needed to bring a little class back to that surprisingly well-surveilled establishment. 😉
You’re welcome, America.
We saw the show yesterday afternoon, and it was a lot of fun. Like I said, musicals aren’t typically my thing, so I was a little hesitant to write a review of one. But I went ahead and did it anyway for this week’s newsletter, since “Beetlejuice” still has lots of stops on its much-hyped national tour, and maybe some of you reading this are thinking about checking it out. I’m here to help.
Let me say right off the bat that if you’ve never seen the movie, you’re not going to be lost watching the musical; the production stands well on its own, and from what I understand, it deviates quite a bit from the film anyway. You may, however, feel like a bit of an outsider among the audience. Both the movie (1988) and play (2019) have large cult followings. The latter is mostly made up of Gen Zers who discovered the play through viral TikTok videos during the pandemic. So, from what I understand (and saw firsthand), lots of attendees show up at these performances dressed as Beetlejuice characters. They pick up on all the Easter-eggs on stage, and are jazzed for every song (the music is great), so those only casually familiar with the franchise could feel like they’re missing out on something. But that “something” certainly shouldn’t deter anyone from seeing this engaging show.
The informal nature of the production goes well beyond its spectators, and that’s to its credit. The dialogue is filled with modern slang and pop-culture references, and actor Justin Collette, who plays the title character, presents himself as part emcee and part stand-up comedian. He works the crowd, insults audience members, repeatedly breaks kayfabe, and throws in some topical, seemingly improvised jokes; he even got in a crack about the aforementioned congresswoman. Collette’s a good entertainer.
But the musical shines brightest with the powerful vocals of Isabella Esler, the teen actress who plays Lydia… who (unlike in the movie) the story primarily focuses on. The entire cast is good, but there’s another stand-out performance from Kate Marilley, who’s hilarious as Delia, the life-coach love interest of Lydia’s father.
As you’d probably imagine from the look of the original film, the show is visually stunning, from the stage design, to the props, to the costumes. Lots of purple, green, white, and plenty of warped angles.
It does get a little raunchy at times (nothing compared to the congresswoman and her date), and it includes some swearing, but for the most part, it’s good family fun.
I highly recommend catching this show if it passes through your town… as long as tickets are still available, and your members of congress are well-adjusted adults.
What’s the last musical you’ve seen live? How was it? Let me know in an email or the comment section below.
Obligatory Dog Shot
The yin and the yang.
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