BWW Interview: Rob McClure & Kerry Butler Are Stuffing Their Bag of Tricks for an Outrageously Wild BEETLEJUICE on Broadway
It's (almost) showtime! Rehearsals officially start today for BEETLEJUICE, which is set to begin Broadway performances Thursday, March 28, 2019, at the Winter Garden Theatre (1634 Broadway), with an opening night of Thursday, April 25, 2019.
As BroadwayWorld reported last week, the show will welcome back original members of the company including Alex Brightman in the title role, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia, Adam Dannheisser as Charles, Leslie Kritzer as Delia, Kerry Butler as Barbara, and Rob McClure as Adam.
As they prepared to return to the rehearsal room, Butler and McClure checked in with BroadwayWorld to tell us all about what to expect from the Broadway incarnation!
Are you excited to get back into rehearsals?
KB: Very excited. I've been involved in the show since the very first reading. To see it come to fruition and be on Broadway now is very exciting. I love the team, we've been together so long. Everyone is so nice and respectful of each other, it's a really, really great environment.
You guys wrapped up in DC in the fall. As an actor, what is this period of time in-between like? Are you anxious to get going?
KB: Well, for me, I was like, "This is the best ever! I've had Christmas off and now I have a job coming up!" That never happens. It hasn't been a long time. We basically got back right before Christmas and then we started up. Because the show is so big, we can't just change a lot of stuff in tech, because the show is so technical. If you want to change one little scene, it's going to take a whole day or something to tech it. Right after Christmas, we went back and started rehearsal for a little bit. Then we stopped again, and now we start again!
RM: I'm having a very unique experience in-between, because I had my first baby!
RM: I have an eight-week-old daughter. I've had this incredibly magical hibernation period in-between. It's actually been really great.
I'm super excited to get back in the room with those people. It is perhaps the funniest group of people I've ever shared a room with. Not just out of excitement, but the writers, Scott [Brown] and Anthony [King] and Eddie [Perfect], we just laugh all day. It's wonderfully funny - the amount of dark wit in that room. And I miss the people. I'm excited to get back in the room with the people again. I definitely don't feel any sense of anxiousness. I think everyone's just eager to get back in the room and make it better. It's a group of people who just are really great at working. It's a group that they're all craftsmen and women, who get into the nitty-gritty, and aren't afraid to do the work. It's a very productive rehearsal room and we try a lot.
Is there anything that you personally learned from the DC run, that you feel like you'll want to explore more this time around?
KB: A hundred percent. When I was in front of the audience, that's like the final ingredient and where you really find out. I was playing [Barbara] a little bit larger than life. What I found in DC was that, besides maybe Lydia, our characters were the ones who should be the most grounded, because the audience sees a show through our eyes, in a way. I brought my performance down, I talked to the director, [Alex Timbers]. I was like, "I feel like I should be playing this more real." We did it and it worked. So that was my main thing that I found - for me - out of town.
RM: I think the whole thing about DC, is that they're a really savvy theater audience. It's a great town to do a tryout. What I learned in DC is that I probably wrongfully underestimated the rabidness of the Tim Burton fan base. I know how much I am obsessed with Beetlejuice, but I thought I was the rare exception - and I'm not. [Laughs]
No way. No, everyone loves Beetlejuice!
RM: There are tiny little Easter egg pieces of scenery that get entrance applause. It's so funny, people are so hungry for that introduction to Tim Burton's brain and his esthetic. People are so excited to see that manifested physically in front of them. We've definitely leaned into Tim Burton's esthetic in both of the set, the puppets, the illusions, and the magic is all very much in the style of the film. People who love the movie, you're definitely going to see all that crazy Tim Burton world. I remember reading a script and getting to the sandworm and thinking, 'Oh, yeah, sure, I'll believe it when I see it.' Then I get into rehearsal and "Holy crap! There's a sandworm over there!"
What are you most excited for Broadway audiences to get to see?
RM: The cool thing is that they're going to get everything they love about the movie, but they're not going to get it in the way they expect to get it. I think that's something that Scott and Anthony and Eddie have done really well - they've written a show that sort of pushes all of the buttons that the movies does, so that anyone coming with an expectation is going to get that expectation fulfilled. It's just not going to get fulfilled when and how they thought it was. It's been really well-crafted to do that. There's lots of surprises.
I think, Alex Timbers has really... I remember we went to dinner at Joe Allen to just chat about the show before we start rehearsal in New York for the DC run. We were just talking, and he said, "You know, I'm just fascinated by the idea that there's this dead guy who wants to be alive and this alive girl who wants to be dead, and what happens when those two forces collide." I just thought, "God, are you the right guy to get this job."
KB: I think it's just a very different, cool musical. It has everything. It's surprisingly touching. The songs are really funny and catchy. There's so muchspectacle kind of stuff, special effects. It has everything!
If you could describe this show in one word, what would it be?
KB: Maybe outrageous? Hilarious? It does make me laugh. The room is so much fun, so inventive, everybody's just making each other laugh all the time.
RM: Wild. Because it's so funny, there is no way to come in with a prediction of what you're going to see. There's just no way. One of the things I love most about this business is the idea that behind the curtain, we have this bag of tricks. All night we get to slowly reveal this bag of tricks to the audience. This show's bag of tricks is so deep that literally, I can't wait. Every night the show starts, and I can't wait. It is a wild ride, that's for sure!
BEETLEJUICE is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge!), with an original score by Eddie Perfect (King Kong), a book by Scott Brown & Emmy Award nominee Anthony King (Broad City), music supervision, orchestrations and incidental music by Kris Kukul (Joan of Arc: Into the Fire), and choreography by Connor Gallagher (The Robber Bridegroom).
It's showtime, folks! The ghost-with-the-most comes to the stage in this edgy and irreverent musical comedy based on Tim Burton's dearly beloved film. Beetlejuice tells the story of Lydia Deetz, a strange and unusual teenager obsessed with the whole "being dead thing." Lucky for Lydia, her new house is haunted by a recently deceased couple and Beetlejuice, a delightful demon with a real zest for life. When Lydia calls on Beetlejuice to scare away anyone with a pulse, this double-crossing specter shows his true stripes, unleashing a (Nether)world of pandemonium, and the biggest sandworm Broadway has ever seen.