Review: Beetlejuice, starring Alex Brightman and Sophia Anne Caruso
I can't recommend saying his name three times! Beetlejuice is now one of the latest screen to stage adaptions to reach Broadway. It's wild, irreverent, visually stunning, and, to it's detriment, blatant in its departure from the cult classic 1988 movie it is based on.
When Beetlejuice (Alex Brightman) himself pops up after a ballad at the beginning of the show, proclaiming that we've already witnessed such a departure from the source material, you know this will be different Beetlejuice to the one most people know. Rather than focuses on Adam and Barbara (Rob McClure and Kerry Butler), who die in their home; the show focuses on Lydia (Sophia Anne Caruso), who moves into the house with her father and his girlfriend following her mother's death; and the titular demon himself. And while works, it only works until a point as the other characters fall victim to being pushed to the side in various interconnecting subplots.
Musically, the show is at its best when the songs that were previously featured in the film are being sung onstage. Outside of that, the score falls into the rock/pop category of many movies turned musicals without a grounding sound to connect it all thought they can be fun in the moment. Visually however, the show is stunning. While the strobe lights circling the theater before the curtain even goes up may be slightly irritating, you'll understand why they're there when the show begins. From the ever changing set to design to the ultra creative work on lighting and costumes, Beetlejuice is a treat in the design sense.
The actors work incredibly hard to take the show and give it life. While you're never quite sure if it's aiming to please the die-hard fans of the film, appeal to families, or appeal to those with a sense of humor that falls closer to the R-rated end of the spectrum, there are some good performances that come out of it. At seventeen, Caruso a shockingly pronounced stage presence that can go head to head with the Broadway vets she's surrounded by. McClure and Butler both are doing their best in their respective roles, giving fun performances that help to bring a bit of light and warmth back to a show that really wants to talk to you about being dead. Leslie Kritzer also makes an impression as Lydia's life coach/father's girlfriend, giving one of the best comic performances of the show.
At its core Beetlejuice is a show that aims to make you laugh while still giving you the horror aspect of it without too much fright. It succeeds some of the time, though there are moments that make it worth the price of admission, though at time you may find yourself if you could have stayed on your couch and rented the movie.