He’s the ghost with the most and you can’t keep him down as Beetlejuice heads back to Broadway in 2022. The musical spectacular based on the iconic Tim Burton’s 1988 movie received rave reviews before having to shut down due to the Covid pandemic, but say his name three times and the world’s leading bio-exorcist will make his comeback on April 8th, when the show will take up residency at the Marriott Marquis Theatre with casting news expected to be announced later this year.
When the show arrived on Broadway in 2019, the initial reaction was not that great, both from critics and a box office ticket sale perspective. However, Beetlejuice managed to pull off in theaters what The Greatest Showman did in cinemas, and over the summer of 2019, word of mouth saw the seats start filling up and it became a roaring success thanks in no small part to Alex Brightman’s gleeful take on the lead when it came to show time.
“We sincerely thank the Beetlejuice fans,” said producers Mark Kaufman and Kevin McCormick. “It is because of their support that we will be able to blow the roof off the Marquis Theatre three-times over with fun and laughter, laughter and laughter!”
However, that return was not at all guaranteed even after the huge improvement in footfall, as the poor performance early on in its run had already sealed its fate at the Winter Garden Theatre where it was being performed at the time. Hugh Jackman’s The Music Man was all set to replace Beetlejuice, which was to have its final performance on June 6th, 2020. Of course, the pandemic shut down saw the final shows cancelled and the option of moving venue seemed to be a non-starter. But, as has been the case recently, an online campaign by fans, which saw a Change.org petition gain over 36,000 signatures, that claimed Beetlejuice’ s modern movie musical vibe was being rejected for something from “Broadway’s Golden Age”, managed to gain traction and seemingly ensure that following the pandemic, the show had a future.
Taking its cue from Burton’s movie, which starred Michael Keaton in the title role, along with Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones and Winona Ryder, the musical follows “strange and unusual” Lydia Deetz as she meets a dead couple living in her house and the mischievous ghost who just wants people to say his name. Two time Tony winner Alex Timbers directs the show, while the score is by Eddie Perfect, who worked on the King Kong stage show.
Beetlejuice is one of a slew of modern musicals based on classic movies of the 1980s, but despite having a good base to start from, it doesn’t always transpire that a popular film will guarantee a Broadway show will get the green light and then manage to stay on the stage for long. At one point, Burton’s Batman, which also starred Keaton, was planned to have a musical with songs by Bat out of Hell maestro Jim Steinman, and although some of the songs are out there to listen to on the likes of YouTube, the musical itself never made it any further. In comparison, London is just seeing the arrival of Back To The Future: The Musical, which seems to be coming out all guns blazing after being delayed by the pandemic and despite losing its primary Doc Brown from its first performances due to Covid.
Whether Beetlejuice will pick up where it left off in March 2020 is something we will just have to wait and see, but there are worse ways to spend an evening than jumping in line for a bit of ghoulish fun. This news comes from Deadline.