Review: BEETLEJUICE At The Providence Performing Arts Center

With a stellar cast, otherworldly scenic design, and infectious tunes, the national tour of BEETLEJUICE is a fantastic time at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

By: Apr. 26, 2023
Review: BEETLEJUICE At The Providence Performing Arts Center

It's showtime! Following a path as twisted as the show's humor, BEETLEJUICE starts its national tour at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Based on the beloved 1988 film, the musical version of Beetlejuice began its pre-Broadway tryout in Washington D.C. in the Fall of 2018. The show underwent a series of changes before its eventual opening in the Winter Garden theatre in New York City on April 25th, 2019. Although it received mixed critical reviews, nevertheless, the show found its audience. Its original cast recording became one of the top 10 most streamed OCRs of the past decade and the cast's medley performance during the 2019 Tony Awards generated over 4 million views on YouTube.

Clearly, this was a show that appealed to many, especially Gen Z. Nothing underlined this more concretely than the mushrooming ticket sales that began after the cast began creating TikTok videos which led to a plethora of fan-made creations using many of the show's popular songs. Thanks to this boost, not only did Beetlejuice rally to become one of the top grossing shows on Broadway, but soon broke box office records at the Winter Garden.

And then COVID-19 struck. Like every Broadway show, Beetlejuice closed its doors in early March, 2020, depriving the cast of their final performance, which had been slated for June of that year.

But Beetlejuice the musical refused to die. Fueled by the embrace of its ardent fans and the show's continued popularity, it was reopened in April of 2022 at the Marquis Theatre, and the first national tour was announced, which premiered in San Francisco that December. Beetlejuice's second Broadway incarnation played its final performance on January 8th, 2023.

So how does a show nearly as well-known for its scenic design and special effects fair on tour? Very well, actually. Upon entering the theatre, Beetlejuice sets the atmosphere with purple and green spotlights, rotating over and into the audience, illuminating the foggy air while a brightly lit "Betelgeuse" sign hangs over the pre-show curtain. All this, plus ambient music fills the theatre to set the mood.

The performances are uniformly stellar, though special mention must be made of both Justin Collette as Beetlejuice and especially Isabella Esler as Lydia. Collette is a riot in the title role, which requires not just the character's trademark gravelly voice, but an ever-changing range of accents, masterful comedic timing, and a great singing voice - all of which he excels at. As over-the-top as the character can be, Collette plays him with a certain charm so that you can't help looking forward to his next appearance when he's not on-stage. Meanwhile, Esler gives a star turn as the morbid and slightly mischievous character of Lydia. Her natural chemistry with the other actors is fantastic, and two of her key moments in the show, the songs "Dead Mom" and "Home" are belted powerfully. Fresh out of high school, it's hard to believe this is her first professional role, though it is surely the first of many.

Britney Coleman and Matthew Michael Janisse (filling in for Will Burton at the 4/25 performance) as Barbara and Adam Maitland, are great as the newly dead boring couple. Kate Marilley also gives a memorable turn as the ditzy, if well-meaning Delia Deetz, who responds to any conundrum by quoting her "life coach," Otho (Abe Goldfarb).

The story does differ from its source material, and although not every aspect of the plot makes perfect sense, you'll be too busy laughing to be bothered. The show is very funny and leans into the raunchiness of Beetlejuice's character but unlike the film version does have some redeeming, even charming, qualities. As for some of the movie's most memorable moments - for example, the sandworms and the classic "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" dinner scene -don't worry, they're still here. (At the end of the 4/25 performance, Britney Coleman gave a short and heartfelt tribute to Harry Belafonte, who famously recorded both "Day-O" and "Jump in the Line," and passed away earlier that day at the age of 96).

Due to the often adult humor and language, this may not be a show for the younger kids. But, it was nice to see numerous teenagers and young adults in the audience, many in costumes or goth attire, who continue to enthusiastically and whole-heartedly support this show. Take it from them, and don't miss Beetlejuice while you still have the chance.

BEETLEJUICE will play the Providence Performing Arts Center through Sunday, April 30, 2023, as part of the Taco/The White Family Foundation Broadway Series. For tickets, visit the PPAC Box Office at 220 Weybosset St. in downtown Providence, go online at, or call 401.421.ARTS (2787).

Pictured (L-R): Isabella Esler (Lydia) and Justin Collette (Beetlejuice). Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2022.


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A life-long Rhode Islander, Erica has been an avid theatre-goer since being taken to children's shows at the Warwick Musical Theatre. She is also an academic librarian in Boston, an occasional bal... (read more about this author)


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