BWW Album Review: BEETLEJUICE (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is a Rib-Tickling Treat
Beetlejuice is a giddily irreverent musical that has left audiences laughing themselves to death since it began its out-of-town tryouts in Washington, D.C. Currently playing Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre, this rib-tickling treat has recently released Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording) through Ghostlight Records and Warner Records. The album captures the heart and humor of the production, sharing the giggles and laughs with a worldwide audience.
Eddie Perfect, an Australian singer-songwriter, pianist, comedian, writer, and actor, had his music debut on Broadway with the critically maligned KING KONG. While that show has yet to release a cast album, his work for Beetlejuice was begging to be recorded even when I saw it in Washington, D.C. Sonically, Perfect utilizes the soundscape of contemporary Broadway pop to craft a score that is wholly approachable and familiar. Then, he layers in wit with his lyrics, putting his comedy chops to work to craft lyrical phrases that cheerfully employ dark humor to leave listeners chortling. While not shying away from the crass and crude, overall Perfect's music and lyrics often skew more MEAN GIRLS or HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL than BOOK OF MORMON.
In the titular role, Alex Brightman's raspy vocals perfectly pair with Perfect's often boorish and coarse lyrics for the character. Brightman's Betelgeuse is a bullying demon who has a heart locked behind innumerable oafish layers of dirt, grime, and gimmicky evil. Breaking the fourth wall with abandon, Brightman's Betelgeuse also guides the listeners through the musical's plot with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. He makes sure that every track he performs on is fun and catchy, with standouts being the show setting "The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing" and the 'I want' number where he mentors the Maitlands "Fright of Their Lives."
Singing the role of Lydia Deetz, Sophia Anne Caruso's affected, purposely tinny vocal tonality allows her to create a character's whose insecurities brought on by depression are wholly relatable. Misunderstood by her father and step-mother and clinging to the fleeting memories of her dead mother, her unlikely friendship with a ghoul allows her opportunities to process the grief, pain, and anger she is feeling before she can fully stake a claim in her own unique identity. This is the emotional journey that Caruso perfectly takes audiences on as she masterfully performs "Prologue: Invisible," "Dead Mom," "Home," and others.
As the Maitlands, Kerry Butler and Rob McClure bring an infectious, ebullient energy to their characters. In their capable hands "Ready Set, Not Yet," "Fright of Their Lives," "Say My Name," and "Barbara 2.0" are truly golden. Likewise, Leslie Kritzer's "What I Know" (which replaces a truly hilarious boy band number from the D.C. try-out) is a true standout moment on the album that expertly fits the themes of the show while allowing her to showcase her vocal prowess.
Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is a solid recording that beats with vibrant life, even if it is all about death and dying. The humor sparkles across the disc, with the jokes remaining funny on repeated listens. The vocals also shine on every track, allowing each member of the named cast performing on the album to keenly show off their abundant talents. As the musical reminds us, our time on this planet isn't guaranteed, so I recommend that you find time to include these songs in your life before it's too late.
Digital copies of Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is available for purchase from Ghostlight Records webstore, iTunes, and Amazon. Physical copies will be made available later in the summer.