Beetlejuice the musical tour review 2024

Zany, Outrageously Entertaining 'Beetlejuice' Musical Does More Than Justice to the Original Film
The Broadway production's first national tour performs through Sunday at the San Diego Civic Theatre
A glimpse into the waiting area for the newly deceased…

Isabella Esler portraying Lydia, left, and Justin Collette as Beetlejuice
A glimpse into the waiting area for the newly deceased…
If you've watched the 1988 horror comedy "Beetlejuice," you might wonder how the wildly imaginative vision of director Tim Burton and the sly, winking humor of star Michael Keaton could ever translate to the theatrical stage.

I was skeptical until witnessing "Beetlejuice" on Wednesday at the San Diego Civic Theatre. The 2018 Broadway musical's inaugural national tour is playing through Sunday, and tickets for the run are nearly sold out. Not only does the musical boast a devoted cult following—who arrive dressed as characters from the show—but it has also amazed the season subscribers arriving with only vague recollections of the movie.

In the musical production, Beetlejuice—a self-serving demon plotting to be released from the netherworld—works the audience like a stand-up comedian, delivering hilarious asides, topical one-liners, and pointed insults toward at least one unfortunate audience member each night. The musical's book by Scott Brown and Anthony King remains faithful, though not slavishly so, to the movie, allowing room for Eddie Perfect's songs to breathe.

While the film's central characters were the Maitlands, a newly deceased couple navigating their journey between life and death, the musical focuses on Lydia, the death-obsessed teenage daughter of widower Charles, who have moved into the Maitlands' former home, unaware the Maitlands still reside there as not-so-scary ghosts. In both film and musical, Beetlejuice manipulates the Maitlands and Lydia to get what he wants, but Lydia's quest to reunite with her late mother becomes the show's beating heart.
Despite stiff competition onstage from ghostly characters and special effects in this visually spectacular show, recent San Jose high school graduate Isabella Esler steals the spotlight as Lydia. With a powerful, beautifully controlled voice, charisma, beauty, warmth, and acting chops, Esler is clearly destined for Broadway stardom.
The role of her gravel-voiced nemesis Beetlejuice is so taxing that two actors alternate the part on tour: Justin Collette and Andrew Kober. On Wednesday, Kober commanded the stage with ease and a mean-spirited delivery. Britney Coleman and Will Burton were endearingly awkward as the Maitlands, Jesse Sharp was tender as Lydia's dad Charles, and Kate Marilley was delightfully kooky as Lydia's life coach Delia.
The original score shines with rapid-fire, joke-filled lyrics and multiple power ballads that Esler flawlessly belts as Lydia. The show also features the two classic calypso songs from the film—"Banana Boat" and "Jump in the Line."

The musical's physical production is highly impressive for a touring show, boasting a massive light rig, state-of-the-art projections and sound, multiple sets, spooky special effects, and a massive electronic ghost-snake puppet. For fans of the film, characters from the netherworld's waiting room—including the shrunken-head hunter and suicidal Miss Argentina—are faithfully recreated.
To divulge too much more about the surprises, funny jokes, and visual gags packed into this show would spoil the fun. But you can bet "Beetlejuice" the musical equals or even surpasses "Beetlejuice" the movie.