I came away from my second viewing of Beetlejuice on Broadway singularly more impressed than I did after my first. As a proud standard-bearer of the currently dormant original musical, I never expected the Scott Brown/Anthony King/Eddie Perfect-adapted collaboration to rise to the top of the generally content deficient 18/19 Broadway season.
The pinnacle of importance in a musical (in the eyes of this beholder) is its score. In Beetlejuice’s case, the score independent of its encircling context, fails to produce standalones. However, the show is not without its few prevailing numbers. ‘Home,’ ‘What I Know Now,’ ‘Ready, Set, Not Yet,’ ‘Dead Mom,’ and ‘Say My Name’ are character driven, appealing, and effectively aid in propelling the story. However, not one of them etches itself into the memory for longer than a few hours. And when it comes to longevity, that’s a problem.
However, a multitude of storytelling elements work in favor of Beetlejuice. Most notably, the captivating and hypnotic set, lighting, and costume design, which arrests the imaginations of the audience from the moment the show begins. David Korins, William Ivey Long, Kenneth Posner, and William Nigrini have built an enveloping world (aided by the lighting plot of the pre-show and intermission) that authorizes the audience to decamp from theirs. It is mesmerizing.
Beetlejuice also weighs the effects of grief, loss, sadness, and acceptance, themes explored in all avenues of art in 2019, and humanizes their subjects. Lydia and Charles spar during a particularly poignant moment in the Netherworld, which packs an unexpectedly powerful emotional punch.
The most substantial asset this show offers is it’s humor. The show is irreverent, unexpected, and funny as hell.
The cast doesn’t have one particular cause célèbre, though Alex Brightman in the role of the perverted and deceiving title poltergeist holds the audience in the palm of his hand, while Leslie Kritzer as Delia delights anyone with a discerning sense of humor.
If you like to laugh, escape, or feel ALIVE – @beetlejuicebway is not to be missed, but if you must, the show will surely enjoy its *afterlife* across the country.