Everything you need to know about 'Beetlejuice' on Broadway
Here's all you need to know about the ghoulishly fabulous Broadway musical Beetlejuice.
Hi! We'll be your guide! We'll be your (New York Theatre) G-U-I-D-E to the other side! The whole "being dead" thing has never been so frightfully fun as in Beetlejuice, the Broadway musical based on the 1988 Tim Burton cult classic movie. The show opened in April 2019 at the Winter Garden Theatre but, just under a year later, the pandemic shuttered it prematurely. But someone must have said Beetlejuice's name three times, because his musical has been resurrected, and the "ghost with the most" is now haunting the Marquis Theatre eight times a week.
Much of the original cast has returned for the encore run, including Alex Brightman reprising his Tony-nominated performance as Beetlejuice. And just about everything else audiences loved about the Beetlejuice musical is the same, too: the songs, the sets, the giant sandworm. If you missed out on Beetlejuice the first time around, read below to learn all about the show and how you can see it now that it's gotten a second life.
What is Beetlejuice about?
Die-hard fans of the 1988 movie are sure to notice that although many of the key ingredients of Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson’s original screenplay have been preserved for this Broadway adaptation, book writers Scott Brown and Anthony King got free rein to create a new story that seems familiar and surprising in equal measures. The main focus of the musical is actually the teenager Lydia, who recently lost her mother and harbors an unhealthy obsession with death. Meanwhile, a perfectly ordinary suburban couple, Barbara and Adam Maitland, become the victims of a tragic accident in their home and are forced to watch helplessly as Lydia, her emotionally closed-off father Charles, and her life coach Delia (who also happens to be Charles’ new lover) move in and throw out all of their possessions.
The “strange and unusual” Lydia is the only one who can actually see the house’s past owners, and she strikes up a friendship with the ghostly pair. However, they each have very different motives. Lydia wishes the recently deceased to help her fetch her mother back from the Netherworld, while Barbara and Adam want to scare off Charles and Delia and get their home back. When Lydia calls on the help of the demonic specter known as Beetlejuice by saying his name three times, all hell (literally) breaks loose. And he's got his own agenda: He, too, becomes unlikely friends with Lydia and the Maitlands, but he plans to use them to bring himself back to life. But this musical, which joyfully celebrates “The Whole "Being Dead" Thing” (as the first big number tells us), is actually about making the most of life and nurturing relationships with your loved ones while you still can.
Where is Beetlejuice playing?
Beetlejuice is at the Marquis Theatre. The theatre is located at 1535 Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets. The Marquis Theatre is located on the third floor of the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square. Back in 1986, multiple old Broadway theatres were demolished to raise the hotel and the Marquis Theatre, including the original Helen Hayes Theatre.
How long is Beetlejuice?
Beetlejuice runs 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission. This is a typical Broadway musical length, though musicals can run anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Intermissions are usually either 15 or 20 minutes long.
What days is Beetlejuice playing?
Beetlejuice plays eight performances a week at the Marquis Theatre, with performances usually scheduled every day except Monday. There are two performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For the complete performance schedule and most up-to-date weekly show times, please visit the Beetlejuice page to learn more.
Who wrote Beetlejuice?
The book for Beetlejuice was written by Scott Brown and Anthony King, who adapted it from Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren's screenplay. Brown and King made their Broadway debuts with their Beetlejuice script.
Eddie Perfect wrote the music and lyrics for the Beetlejuice musical. Beetlejuice is his second Broadway musical; his first was the 2018 musical adaptation of King Kong, which premiered on Broadway about six months before the Beetlejuice musical did.
When did Beetlejuice premiere?
Beetlejuice premiered on Broadway in 2019, but the show had been in development since 2014. Learn more about how the Beetlejuice musical was brought to life and how the Netherworld soon took over the theatre world.
- 2014: Eddie Perfect begins writing songs for the Beetlejuice musical. He was in the songwriting process from 2014 to 2019 and recorded tons of demos, many of which were of songs that didn't make it into the final cut of the musical. He later released the songs as a companion album to the Beetlejuice cast recording.
- 2016: It is announced to the public that a Beetlejuice musical adaptation was in the works, with Alex Timbers tapped to direct. A reading took place that year, with Christopher Fitzgerald (now on Broadway in Company) in the role of Beetlejuice.
- 2017: Perfect is announced as the show's composer/lyricist and another reading is set. A total of three more readings and two staged workshops for Beetlejuice took place, with Alex Brightman, Sophia Anne Caruso, Kerry Butler, and Rob McClure in the roles they'd eventually originate on Broadway.
- 2018: Beetlejuice has monthlong a pre-Broadway run at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. from October to November 2018. Future Broadway cast members Leslie Kritzer, Adam Dannheisser, Jill Abramovitz, Danny Rutigliano, and Kelvin Moon Loh joined for this production.
- 2019: Beetlejuice opens at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre. The production, like the movie, becomes a fan favorite and earns eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. The show was meant to run through June 2020, but it was shut down prematurely in March 2020 when all Broadway theatres closed for Covid-19.
- April 2022: After overwhelming fan demand, Beetlejuice returns for an encore Broadway run, this time at the Marquis Theatre. Most of the actors in the cast in March 2020, including Brightman as Beetlejuice, returned to their roles.
- December 2022: Beetlejuice will launch its first national tour.
Half the main characters in Beetlejuice are living humans, and others are ghosts and demons from the Netherworld. Most of these roles were made iconic by celebrities like Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, and Catherine O'Hara in the original movie, and now the Broadway cast is putting their own spooky spin on them. Here are the major characters in the Beetlejuice musical.
- Beetlejuice: A hellish, troublemaking demon who's desperate to come back to life. He can't be seen by any living people, but he needs a living person to say his name three times to make him visible, and for one to marry him to fully resurrect him. He befriends the morbid Lydia and the buttoned-up Maitlands, but his goal is to use them to help his scheme along.
- Lydia Deetz: A goth teenager who's grieving the loss of her mother. She's upset that her father has moved on and feels like she has no one she can talk to about her mother. She's the only living person who can see Beetlejuice, and she enlists his haunting skills to help her take her anger out on her father. She also hopes he and the Maitlands will help her get in touch with her mom.
- Barbara Maitland: A suburban housewife and the wife of Adam Maitland. Fearful of failure, especially at motherhood, and risk-taking in life, she ends up gaining new confidence as a ghost, with the help of a few haunting lessons from Beetlejuice. She and Adam are upset that a new couple is moving into their house, and they want to work up the skill to scare them out.
- Adam Maitland: Barbara's husband, who's also fearful and cautious. Barbara goads him on to break out of his shell and out of their old habits.
- Charles Deetz: Lydia's father. He has trouble expressing his feelings, especially his grief, so he's thrown himself into his work and into a new relationship with Delia to take his mind off it, alienating his daughter from him in the process.
- Delia Schlimmer: Charles's new lover, who he's also hired to be Lydia's life coach. She has insecurities about her age, her failed past marriage, and her infertility, so she throws herself into over-positive thinking and crystal therapy to make herself believe that there's good in life.
Most of Beetlejuice's songs deal with death, the afterlife, hauntings, and other macabre topics, but in an upbeat and comical fashion. In between, though, are a few heartfelt ballads about grief and making the most of life, showing that Beetlejuice also has heart. Besides all the songs that made it into the final cut of Beetlejuice on Broadway, listed below, there are lots of other cut songs, which Eddie Perfect released as a 2020 album called Beetlejuice: The Demos The Demos The Demos.
- "Prologue: Invisible" - Lydia and Ensemble
- "The Whole "Being Dead" Thing" – Beetlejuice and Ensemble
- "Ready, Set, Not Yet" – Adam and Barbara
- "The Whole "Being Dead" Thing, Pt. 2" – Beetlejuice and Ensemble
- "The Whole "Being Dead" Thing, Pt. 3" – Beetlejuice
- "Dead Mom" – Lydia
- "Fright of Their Lives" – Beetlejuice, Adam, Barbara and Ensemble
- "Ready Set, Not Yet" (reprise) – Barbara and Adam
- "No Reason" – Delia and Lydia
- "Invisible" (reprise)/"On the Roof" – Beetlejuice
- "Say My Name" – Beetlejuice, Lydia, Barbara and Adam
- "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" – Delia, Charles, Maxie, Maxine and Ensemble
- "Girl Scout" – Skye
- "That Beautiful Sound" – Beetlejuice, Lydia and Ensemble
- "That Beautiful Sound" (reprise) – Beetlejuice and Ensemble
- "Barbara 2.0" – Barbara and Adam
- "The Whole "Being Dead" Thing, Pt. 4" – Beetlejuice
- "Good Old Fashioned Wedding" – Beetlejuice†
- "What I Know Now" - Miss Argentina and Ensemble
- "Home" - Lydia
- "Creepy Old Guy" – Lydia, Adam, Barbara, Beetlejuice, Charles, Delia and Ensemble
- "Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)" / "Dead Mom" (reprise) / "Home" (reprise) / "Day-O" (reprise) – Lydia, Barbara, Adam, Delia and Charles
What awards has Beetlejuice won?
Beetlejuice has won awards for its design, directing, and performance, besides receiving acclaim from critics and audiences. The four-star New York Theatre Guide review reads, "A creative team that includes director Alex Timbers and his inspired designers David Korins (sets) and William Ivey Long (costumes), animate this parade of eccentricity with flair and great comedy technique that turns it into a subversive delight." Learn more about the awards and nominations Beetlejuice has received for its Broadway premiere.
- Tony Awards: Beetlejuice did not win any Tony Awards, but it did receive eight nominations in 2019, including Best Musical and Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Alex Brightman.
- Drama Desk Awards: David Korins won the 2019 Outstanding Set Design for a Musical Drama Desk Award. Beetlejuice received six additional nominations for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (for Leslie Kritzer as Delia), Outstanding Book of a Musical, and costume, projection, wig and hair, and puppet design.
- Outer Critics Circle Awards: Korins also won the 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Set Design. The show received two additional design nominations (costumes and projections) and one for Kritzer.
- Drama League Awards: Alex Timbers won the Founder's Award for Excellence in Directing at the 2019 Drama League Awards. The show also received a nomination for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical, and Brightman and Kritzer were nominated for their performances.
- Theatre World Awards: For playing Lydia, Sophia Anne Caruso won the 2019 Theatre World Award for Outstanding New York City Stage Debut Performance.
- Academy Awards: The original Beetlejuice movie won the 1989 Oscar for Best Makeup.
Major productions of Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice is a newer musical, so it hasn't had too many major productions yet. But like its title character, it's such a high-energy delight that it's likely to get resurrected for years to come.
- 2016: Beetlejuice has its first reading, with Christopher Fitzgerald playing the titular ghost.
- 2018: Beetlejuice has its official world premiere in Washington, D.C. at the National Theatre. Brightman, who played the role in workshops after Fitzgerald, stars as Beetlejuice.
- 2019: Beetlejuice makes its Broadway premiere with the cast from the D.C. tryout. The production transforms the Winter Garden Theatre to fit the otherworldly theme: Green and purple light bulbs were installed throughout the auditorium, and eerie pre-show music and purple lighting effects greet the audience when they walk in.
- April 2022: Beetlejuice returns to Broadway for an encore run after closing in 2020. It's not considered a "new" production or a revival for awards purposes, as it features the same cast, design, and staging. It does have a new venue, though: the Marquis Theatre, since the 2021 revival of The Music Man moved into the Winter Garden.
- December 2022: The first national tour of Beetlejuice will kick off.
Celebrities who have performed in Beetlejuice
There haven't been a lot of major celebrities in Beetlejuice on Broadway, but the original film is filled with them. Learn more about the famous figures that have stepped into the Netherworld on stage and screen.
- Michael Keaton: Golden Globe winner Keaton originated the role of Beetlejuice in Tim Burton's film.
- Winona Ryder: Ryder played Lydia in the original Beetlejuice movie. Lydia was her breakout role, two years after her film debut, and it remains one of her best-known performances.
- Geena Davis: Academy Award winner Davis played Barbara Maitland in the 1988 Beetlejuice film. She visited the Broadway production in September 2019 and surprised the audience with a post-curtain call appearance.
- Alec Baldwin: Golden Globe and Emmy winner Baldwin played Adam Maitland in the Beetlejuice movie opposite Geena Davis.
- Catherine O'Hara: Golden Globe and Emmy winner O'Hara played Delia in Burton's 1988 movie, and her performance in the "Day-O" scene, where Delia gets possessed, is one of the movie's most famous moments that made it into a pop culture touchstone. O'Hara visited the Broadway show in July 2019.
- Alex Brightman: Tony nominee Brightman originated the role of Beetlejuice on Broadway. He's also known for his Broadway roles in School of Rock and Wicked.
- Rob McClure: McClure originated the role of Adam Maitland in the Beetlejuice musical, and he's currently starring in the titular role of Mrs. Doubtfire on Broadway.
Onscreen adaptations of Beetlejuice
Rather than the Beetlejuice musical being the basis for a film, it's the other way around. The musical was adapted from the hit 1988 Tim Burton film, which featured a starry cast led by Michael Keaton and soon became a cult classic. Before getting the musical treatment, Beetlejuice was first adapted into an animated TV show, which ran for three seasons on ABC and one on Fox, as well as multiple video games. The film won the Academy Award for Best Makeup as well as three Saturn Awards: Best Horror Film, Best Makeup, and Best Supporting Actress for Sylvia Sidney, who played Juno.
The character of Beetlejuice also appeared in an episode of Teen Titans Go! in October 2020, when Brightman provided the voice for the character in between his Broadway appearances.
Fun facts about Beetlejuice
Venture even deeper into the Netherworld with these fun facts about the Beetlejuice musical.
- Like The Book of Mormon before it, Beetlejuice lovingly sends up Broadway musicals of the past during the show; one of the most famous references is a roast of the Golden Age musical Brigadoon.
- Having been performed on the Macy's Parade, the Today Show, and the Tony Awards, "The Whole "Being Dead" Thing" is one of the show's most famous songs. The lyrics are changed slightly each time to fit the event or venue it's being sung at. For example, when Beetlejuice was at the Winter Garden, the song began, "Hey folks, beggin' your pardon / Welcome to the Winter Garden!" Now, at the Marquis, the lyric is, "Hey folks, ain't it pretty? Look who's back in New York City!" At the Tony Awards, it was "Hey folks, I'm at the Tonys, chilling with my Broadway homies."
- Beetlejuice's name is actually spelled Betelgeuse; he's named after a star in the Orion constellation. However, the film and musical used the phonetic spelling Beetlejuice in the title to make it easier to advertise.
- Beetlejuice has a large social media following. One of the original understudies, Presley Ryan, often posted videos of herself and the cast to TikTok, and many went viral. The show leaned into its online popularity and hosted virtual costume contests, fan art contests, and more for its online fanbase, especially when live theatre first shut down in 2020.
- Alex Brightman uses a special technique called "ventricular fold phonation" to perform the role of Beetlejuice, which allows him to sing in the character's raspy growl without damaging his voice.
- The musical that occupied the Winter Garden Theatre before Beetlejuice was an adaptation of School of Rock. Brightman starred in that one, too, as Dewey Finn, a role originated on screen by Jack Black.
How to get Beetlejuice tickets
Beetlejuice is not just for Tim Burton aficionados or for those that take special delight in macabre creations like The Addams Family, but for anyone who likes theatre bursting with special effects and eye-popping illusions. The production contains a fair amount of profanities and obscene gestures, so the show may not be recommended for children despite is funhouse-like aesthetic. Otherwise, Beetlejuice will have you rolling in your graves… or rather, rolling over with laughter in the aisles! Life is short, so don't wait any longer to get your Beetlejuice tickets, tickets, tickets.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy