Beetlejuice The Musical•August 8, 2023•Eccles Theater
Back in 2018, when I heard that there was going to be a musical adaptation of the 1988 film Beetlejuice I must admit that my first thought was, “This is going to be terrible”. I’m not sure exactly why I thought that. Maybe because the film is so great and there are so many amazing actors that gave such iconic performances that I didn’t think anyone would ever be able to see the characters played differently or by different actors. Whatever the reason was, I didn’t have the best attitude when it came to the production.
Over the years, however, without seeing too much or hearing much of the music, I began to hear that it actually was quite good. And really funny. When I heard that Beetlejuice The Musical would be closing out the Broadway at the Eccles 2022/2023 season, I was excited to see for myself what the creative team did to bring this movie to the stage.
Despite difficult circumstances, Beetlejuice The Musical had a successful run on Broadway. Like many Broadway productions, this show, unfortunately, had to close due to the COVID-19 Pandemic on March 10, 2020, at the Winter Garden Theater. The production was able to reopen on April 8, 2022, this time at the Marquis Theater. Beetlejuice ultimately closed on Broadway on January 8, 2023, having a combined run of 679 performances. I’m sure not what the producers had hoped for, but a successful run in my opinion under the circumstances. The tour runs throughout the nation to rave reviews, including this one.
Once again, Eccles Theater failed to disappoint. I feel so fortunate to have this theater in downtown Salt Lake City. Walking in I could see restaurants full of people who were then heading to the musical. The theater was full as always and there was definite excitement in the air. I saw a number of people even dressed up for the show. Yes, people dressed in nice suits and dresses to go to the theater, but not only that. There were people dressed up in black and white striped suits, shirts, and dresses.
There were also quite a few black gothic-style dresses being worn as well. It was clear that patrons of Eccles Theater were Beetlejuice fans and they represented themselves well. The theater was beautiful inside and it was easy to see and hear everything. I have to believe that this is one of the best theaters this production will see on its tour.
As the musical began the first I noticed was just how good this cast was, beginning with Andrew Kober (Tues, Weds, Thurs) as the title character, Beetlejuice. Kober not only has the unenviable task of filling the shoes of Micheal Keaton who originated the role in the movie, but the shoes of Broadway star, Alex Brightman who originated the role on stage. I would imagine there were many theatergoers with those actors’ portrayals in mind. But as soon as we’re through the big opener, “The Whole “Being Dead” Thing”, Kober has already won us over. He looked the part, he sounded the part, and his engagement with the audience was so funny.
Britney Coleman and Will Burton were excellent in their roles as Barbara and Adam. They had amazing chemistry and were entertaining throughout the show. The way the story begins it’s about them. They’re the ones who die and want to keep people out of their home. But as them transition into more supporting roles, we never forgot about them. I was glad to see them every time they took the stage. Their singing voices were fantastic, and their physical comedy was elite. They are such an adhesive to this show.
I wonder when how much longer it will be before people will tell me they saw Isabella Esler in a production and I’ll be able to say, “Oh yeah? Well I saw her in her first-ever tour!”. I can’t wait for that day. Because I know it’s coming. Esler plays the part of Lydia, a young woman who just lost her mother and feels lost, alone, and invisible. The role spans a wide range. While it’s expected that Beetlejuice is the one who carries the show, it’s Lydia who’s doing the heavy lifting in many of the scenes. The story becomes about her, and with that is a heavy load of drama and huge songs.
Isabella Esler was up to the challenge. To think that someone so fresh and new to the professional stage could be relied on to play such a role is impressive. She has an amazing voice. Her dramatic acting was on point. And she allowed us to identify with what the character was going through. I thought Isabella was excellent.
Jesse Sharp as Charles and Kate Marilley as Delia were very good. The characters are quite mismatched. Sharp and Marilley did a great job of allowing us to feel that awkwardness. They both drew loud laughs from the crowd.
Something that I worried about in coming to this show was if the production would simply rip off Tim Burton’s vision and Danny Elfman’s soundtrack. I wouldn’t blame them if they did. Both are brilliantly done and with mimicking. I have to hand it to this production. While there were definite tones and tributes to Burton and Elfman, nothing felt overt or obvious. I thought there was a nice “tip of the cap” to composer and director but we were given very original music by Eddie Perfect and the direction by Alex Timbers was wonderful. The lighting production and staging were outstanding. The vivid colors and unique set design brought us right into the story.
Beetlejuice The Musical is a really fun show. It’s not for kids. Mature language and subject matter might not be something some adults will enjoy. But I must say I laughed so many times throughout. There were several scenes where the cast had to take an extended pause to let the laughter die down. That’s a good sign of a great musical comedy.
Beetlejuice The Musical is playing at Eccles Theater until Sunday August 13, 2023. For info on the show and ticket availability click here!