Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In on Pre-Broadway BEETLEJUICE in DC; Updating Live!
The new musical comedy Beetlejuice will open on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre (1634 Broadway) on April 25, 2019, but first the musical has its world premiere at The National Theatre in Washington D.C., and officially opened yesterday.
Beetlejuice is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge!, Peter and the Starcatcher), with an original score by Eddie Perfect(King Kong), a book by Scott Brown & Emmy Award nominee Anthony King (Broad City), choreography by Connor Gallagher (The Robber Bridegroom), and music supervision, orchestrations and incidental music by Kris Kukul (Joan of Arc: Into the Fire).
It's showtime, folks! Beetlejuice is ruder, raunchier and frankly, more repellent than ever in this original musical based on Tim Burton's wonderfully demented film. Beetlejuicetells 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 a degenerate demon who happens to have a thing for stripes. When Lydia calls on this ghost-with-the-most to scare away her insufferable parents, Beetlejuicecomes up with the perfect plan, which involves exorcism, arranged marriages and an adorable girl scout who gets scared out of her wits.
Beetlejuice features scenic design by two-time Tony Award nominee David Korins(Hamilton), costume design by six-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long (The Producers), lighting design by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner (Kinky Boots), sound design by four-time Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski (Frozen), projection design by Drama Desk Award winner Peter Nigrini (Dear Evan Hansen), puppet design by Drama Desk Award winner Michael Curry (The Lion King), special effects design by Jeremy Chernick (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), illusions by Michael Weber (Forrest Gump), music producing by Matt Stine, dance arrangements by David Dabbon, casting by Telsey + Company and Rachel Hoffman, CSA; Associate Director Catie Davis, Associate Choreographer Nancy Renee Braun and Line Producer Jenny Gersten.
Beetlejuice is based on the 1988 Academy Award-winning Geffen Company motion picture with story by Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson. The smash hit comedy was directed by Tim Burton and starred Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Peter Marks, Washington Post: Perfect's predictably peppy pop score contains a couple of serviceable power ballads for Caruso and a few curveballs: A boy-band parody number in the Netherworld feels about as 2018 as an episode of "Friends." The spontaneous applause moments are predictable, too, as they tend to quote the film. Lydia's memorable declaration - "I myself am strange and unusual" - comes from a line Winona Ryder uttered in the film, and is received warmly in the National. (Somehow, though, while she's swathed ultra-gothlike by costume designer William Ivey Long, this Lydia doesn't come across as all that strange and unusual.)
Paul Harris, Variety: Songwriter Perfect's score is another trouble spot. There are few melodies of distinction, and at times it musicalizes scenes that arguably could be more effectively conveyed in dialogue. A prime example: the Act Two song in which Lydia and her father (Dannheisser) reconcile over the mother's death, the evening's most profound moment.
Joseph Kisiday, Theater Nerds: One of the show's most significant assets is its spectacular set, costume, and lighting design. The production is complete with animatronic sandworms and shrimp-arms, not to mention at least five different backgrounds throughout the course of the show. The set's gothic aesthetic is spot-on with Tim Burton's style from the movie, and its immaculate versatility is something that I hope Tony voters remember come spring. Moreover, the costumes are nearly exact replicas of the movie ones (e.g., Beetlejuice's striped suit and Lydia's red wedding dress). In classic Broadway fashion, the costume changes in numbers such as "Creepy Old Guy" are swift and stunning. Elsewhere, the lighting design strikes gothic gold. Before the curtain rises, it is covered with a beaming spiral, as if to hypnotize the audience into a world far beyond our darkest fears. Perhaps my favorite use of the lighting is how minimal it is in the netherworld scenes, heightening the Tim Burton-like desolation of the next world. The crew has crafted a flexible set that turns the seemingly impossible into a reality.
Toby Knapp, iHeart Radio: It's the perfect escape for fans that Broadway needs in a post-Hamilton or post-Dear Evan Hansen world. It's not too deep. Not too heady. Doesn't tackle political realities (although BJ does take aim at some in a comedic way) and it's not so serious that it triggers some sort of inner anxiety. In short, it's the sorta comedic escape Broadway doesn't have right now... and that's why it's going to be big... so big. An erect monument of bigness standing aloft the great white way.
Check back for more reviews as they come in!