Review: BEETLEJUICE THE MUSICAL at Orpheum Theater

On stage at the Orpheum from September 19-24

By: Sep. 20, 2023
Review: BEETLEJUICE THE MUSICAL at Orpheum Theater

Looking for a fun night out in the Twin Cities? Look no further than the National Tour of Beetlejuice The Musical, playing at the Orpheum Theatre September 19-24. This tour is a thrilling recreation of the Broadway show, sure to delight even the most buttoned-up theatergoer.

The musical is based on the 1988 Tim Burton film of the same name, which starred Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder as Beetlejuice and Lydia respectively. With music and lyrics by Eddie  Perfect and a book written by Scott Brown and Anthony King, this upbeat show departs from the movie plot and centers more around the teenage Lydia and how she processes her grief around her mother’s recent death. The show’s focus on loneliness and feeling disconnected from others is brought to life not only by Lydia but surprisingly, by Beetlejuice himself.

The cast is top-notch, each performer giving 100% to the show. Young Isabella Esler has a powerful voice and gives Lydia’s yearning for her mother a resonance that anyone missing a loved one can identify with. Matthew Michael Janisse subbed in for Beetlejuice on the night I attended, and he made a valiant effort to take on the meaty role, but struggled with the vocal depths of the score. The jokes were there, but the low notes were not. Kate Marilley as Delia was a highlight – her interpretation of the character was refreshing and a departure from the Broadway production.

The set design for Beetlejuice is ghoulish and garish, with neon greens and gothic black. Beware of long instances of strobing lights, which could be hazardous to some theatergoers. The ensemble cast truly does background work here, as funeral goers, Beetlejuice clones and an array of newly-dead ghosts, but is not given any chance to shine in solo performances. The costumes are thoughtfully designed for each character – the Maitlands look perfectly “Pottery Barn and dry white wine”, which is apt for their characters in a small Connecticut town.

When this show premiered on Broadway to not-so-favorable reviews, what was not considered was the show’s “TikTok-ability” – fans of the show, as well as the cast, made the show go viral through fun lip syncs and behind-the-scenes footage. When the show closed during the COVID pandemic, most thought that would be its last bow on Broadway, but fans quickly campaigned to have it return for another post-pandemic run. A devout Gen Z fanbase turned the show into a hit, and that was obvious at the performance I attended – there were many young theatregoers there dressed in black and white stripes or gothic clothing to pay tribute to their favorite characters. The original Broadway cast recording has over 250 million digital streams in the United States alone, a testament to the popularity of the show.

Beetlejuice is a funny, heartwarming-at-times, raucous-at-times good-time show. Between the delightful musical numbers, breathtaking sets and costumes and winning performances, this production is worth the price of admission. This was an all-around good time, and if you can score a ticket, expect to have a great night at the theatre.

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