5 reasons to see ‘Beetlejuice’ before it leaves townAug 09, 2023 12h07 ● By Peri Kinder
Tim Burton’s bizarre “Beetlejuice” characters come to life on the stage at Eccles Theater through Sunday, Aug. 13. Pictured (L-R): Britney Coleman (Barbara), Will Burton (Adam), Isabella Esler (Lydia) and Justin Collette (Beetlejuice). (Photo courtesy of Matthew Murphy)
Turning a Tim Burton movie into a Broadway show is a risky venture. While Burton’s bizarre sets and freakish characters from “Beetlejuice” can be brought to life (so to speak) on film, it’s harder on a live stage. But the cast of “Beetlejuice,” performing at Eccles Theater, nailed it.
Based on Burton’s popular 1988 film, the musical adds a different dimension that focuses on the relationship between Lydia Deetz and Beetlejuice as they try to scare Lydia’s father and life coach/potential stepmother into leaving their new home.
Here are five reasons you should buy tickets to the show:
Revisit a childhood favorite. The musical pays tribute to some of the best moments in the 1988 film, including a wild, colorful and hilarious version of the seance with Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and the suspenseful moment when Lydia repeats that scary name three times.
Top-notch performances. Andrew Kober played the title character on Tuesday’s opening night with revolting, raunchy, repugnant and repulsive flair. Whenever he took the stage, my granddaughter broke into a wide grin because his unpredictable antics were so much fun to watch. His opening number, “The Whole ‘Being Dead’ Thing,” was witty and clever, and it got better from there. In true Burton fashion, Kober embraced Beetlejuice’s irreverence for death and all things macabre. Justin Collette will play the title role on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Lydia is played by Isabella Esler, who is making her professional debut on this tour. Esler carried the big part with powerful vocal performances as her character demonstrated a deep emotional range from grief and despair to silliness and joy. Her number “Creepy Old Guy” was a hilarious take on her underage marriage to Beetlejuice.
Barbara (Britney Coleman) and Adam (Will Burton) play the deceased couple living in Lydia’s home. Their nerdiness, kindness and connection to each other was sweet, as was their devotion to Lydia.
Kate Marilley provided over-the-top laughs as her character, Delia, tries to life coach Lydia with rainbows, light and terrible motivational quotes. She’s also having an affair with Lydia’s father, Charles (Jesse Sharp). She has some of the funniest one-liners in the show.
It captures Tim Burton’s bizarre vision. The “Beetlejuice” set design, props, visual effects, lyrics, jokes, puppetry, make-up and costuming kept the audience absorbed. Making a set that’s interesting and flexible must have been a challenge but the changing scenes were exciting to watch as the story evolved.
Enjoy new, high-energy songs. Once you see the show, you’ll want to find lyrics to the songs written by Tony Award nominee Eddie Perfect. Unlike most musicals, you never knew when the cast would break into song and the lyrics are wickedly clever.
It’s mischievously fun. Directed by Tony Award winner Alex Timbers, “Beetlejuice” offers audiences the chance to enjoy magical, bizarre, brilliant and poignant moments as the living and the dead come together to help a young girl deal with her mother’s death. And then there’s Beetlejuice, who’s just in it for his own devilish reasons. My granddaughter gave the show two thumbs way up.
The musical has some PG-13 language and violence, sexual innuendo and lots of flashing lights. The show run at Eccles Theater (131 S. Main St.) in Salt Lake City through Sunday, Aug. 13. Tickets are available at saltlakecity.broadway.com.