Interview: Britney Coleman Says BEETLEJUICE at Wharton Center is a Lot Funnier Than People Expect

Don't miss the The Musical. The Musical. The Musical. At Wharton Center March 14th through 19th only.

By: Mar. 08, 2023
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Pictured (L-R): Isabella Esler (Lydia), Will Burton (Adam)
and Britney Coleman (Barbara)
Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2022

Making its Wharton Center debut March 14th through 19th is Beetlejuice (The Musical. The Musical. The Musical.), the modern cult classic musical based on the movie from 1988. Having premiered on Broadway in 2019, Beetlejuice was nominated for a slew of awards that same year, including 8 Tony Awards (such as Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, and more). Despite closing due to the pandemic, the show made a resurgence during lockdown and reopened again on Broadway in 2022 through this past January.

BroadwayWorld Michigan had the pleasure of speaking with Britney Coleman, who plays Barbara Maitland in the national tour of Beetlejuice. Read our interview below!

BroadwayWorld Michigan: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your theatre career?

Britney Coleman: I am originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I went to U of M for musical theatre, I got my BFA in the musical theatre program there. After graduating Michigan, I moved to New York City. I've done tours and Broadway stuff and regional stuff. Broadway [included] Sunset Boulevard, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Tootsie and the recent revival of Company.

How would you summarize the story of Beetlejuice?

It's the story of Lydia Deetz and her family, who move into this house that is haunted by a recently deceased couple, Adam and Barbara Maitland (I play Barbara). There's also a demon in the house who's named Beetlejuice. Lydia and the Maitlands work together to get Beetlejuice out of the house, basically.

Can you tell us a bit about Barbara and the role that she plays?

Barbara Maitland was played by Geena Davis in the movie. She and Adam are a young couple who are sprucing up their house. They love all of their projects and recreational classes, and they love each other very much. They're a bit square in many ways, and both Lydia and Beetlejuice kind of help break them out of their shell.

As a show with so many great songs, what are your favorites to watch from the wings or sing?

Oh gosh, there are a lot of them. Lydia has some of my favorite songs. She sings "Dead Mom" in act one and "Home" in act two. I think they're both so powerful and full of heart. Bella Esler, our Lydia, really brings the house down every show. She's incredible. So it's really really fun to watch her.

What do you think it is about this show and this story that keeps audiences of all ages coming to see it 35 years after the movie came out?

We definitely get fans of the movie. This show has really been adapted in such a way to put Lydia, our teenage leading lady, at the forefront of the show. It's really her story. I think a lot of our fans who are of that age really identify with her. There's so many different layers of vulnerability there.

But also, the show is really funny. In the movie, Beetlejuice maybe has 20 to 30 minutes of screentime tops, but we meet Beetlejuice in the musical right from the beginning. He is just a mile a minute, full of jokes, played so expertly by Justin Collette. [The musical is] a lot funnier, I think, than people expect.

As an Ann Arbor and Michigan native, how does it feel to have first played a venue like the Detroit Opera House, and now Wharton Center, so close to home?

I grew up seeing shows at the Detroit Opera House. This will be my first time at the Wharton. I'm excited for that - I hear it's really a lovely facility. I'm very excited to have so many friends and family in the audience. Definitely feels like a homecoming of sorts.

Do you have any social media accounts that readers can follow?

Instagram: @britneycoleman

Is there anything else East Lansing audiences should know before coming to see the show at Wharton Center?

Just come prepared to have a really good time, I think. That's really what it boils down to. Most of our audiences are leaving the theatre with smiles on their faces and still retelling the jokes that they heard. Be open, sit back and relax, and enjoy.

Tickets for Beetlejuice are on sale now at Wharton Center's official ticketing outlets: online at, at the Auto-Owners Insurance Ticket Office at Wharton Center, or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

To keep updated with Beetlejuice as they travel around the country on their national tour, visit their website at, and follow them on Twitter at @BeetlejuiceBway, on Instagram at @beetlejuicebway and on Facebook at

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.


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