Review: BEETLEJUICE at The Paramount Theatre

The ghost with the most is in Seattle!

By: Apr. 03, 2024
Review: BEETLEJUICE at The Paramount Theatre
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Review: BEETLEJUICE at The Paramount Theatre
Isabella Esler and Justin Collette in
Beetlejuice at the Paramount Theatre.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Dear Readers, warning, I’m about to be a bit of a snob here.  I know, big surprise.  But I’m not the biggest fan of the musical, “Beetlejuice”, currently playing at the Paramount Theatre.  I wasn’t a fan when I first heard the cast recording and now having seen it, I can’t say my opinion has changed all that much.  A bit, but not much.

If you’ve seen the 1988 film, then you pretty much know the story here.  Well, kinda.  Lydia Deetz (Isabella Esler) has recently lost her mother.  So, she and her father Charles (Jesse Sharp) and his life coach (yeah, they’re not married yet in this version) Delia (Sarah Litzsinger) have moved to this small town to get away from the city … and maybe make a buck creating a housing community there.  But the house they moved into belonged to the Maitlands, Barbara and Adam (Megan McGinnis and Will Burton) who have recently died themselves and are stuck in the house as ghosts.  If all that weren’t bad enough, there’s the outrageous Beetlejuice (Justin Collette) who’s trying to con the Maitlands into helping him get a living to say his name three times and free him.  And thus, the shenanigans ensue.

My first problem with the show is the book from Scott Brown and Anthony King.  They’ve taken this well-crafted world from the movie and boiled it down to its bare essentials as a vehicle for the title demon to be wacky.  And wacky he is.  I will say there are quite a few laughs from the book, although they leaned heavily on shock value.  Let’s just say this is not a show for the kiddies as Beetlejuice delves quite a bit into his sexual history, his sexual proclivities, and well, sex.  It was funny but became tiresome.

Then there are the songs from Eddie Perfect that are largely unmemorable.  Honestly, the only ones I can remember are “The Whole Being Dead Thing”, because they repeatedly cram it down our throats, and “Dead Mom”.  Otherwise, the songs move nothing in what little story they have along.  They are there to emphasize a point that was already made and feel like pauses in the show. 

Review: BEETLEJUICE at The Paramount Theatre
Isabella EslerWill Burton,
and Megan McGinnis
in Beetlejuice at the Paramount Theatre.
Photo credit: Dan Norman

As I said, the whole show is a vehicle for Beetlejuice to make in your face, crass jokes, designed to get cheap applause.  Sure, Michael Keaton was loud and crass in the film, but he felt nuanced.  This is one note.  Collette does a fine job with this one note.  He’s funny and plays with the audience well.  But I could not tell you if he’s a good singer.  He’s affected the Beetlejuice raspiness and that does not lend itself well to singing, and last night, to understanding a lot of the lyrics.  And as a guy who loves lyrics, this is just another thing that doesn’t work for me.

There is some good stuff here too.  Many of the jokes are funny, and the audience last night was eating them all up.  And I must call out Esler who was a stunner.  Amazing voice and presence and deserves to be in a better show.  Especially noteworthy since this is her professional debut, fresh out of high school.  This young lady is a star in the making. 

The ensemble does a fine job, but this show is designed for us to focus on that title character.  And some of the ensemble felt like they were trying way too hard to go over the top in order to compete and it came off forced. 

Basically, for me, the show was a lot of spectacle with nothing to back it up.  A lot of flash and no substance.  However, the audience around me was loving every second.  But they were not being musical theater snobs.  I did warn you.  And so, with my three-letter rating system I give “Beetlejuice” at the Paramount a great big, in your face, no holds barred MEH+.  Is it an audience pleaser?  Absolutely.  Is it a good musical?  I say no.

“Beetlejuice” performs at the Paramount Theatre through April 7th.  For tickets or information visit Seattle Theatre Group online at


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