Words by Penny Neef. Images courtesy of Seven Venues.
Production shots of Isabella Esler and Justin Collette by Matthew Murphy, 2022.
Santa is on his way, but Beetlejuice, the “ghost with the most”, the man in stripes with the crazy hair, the loveable demon, will be in Norfolk this week. Beetlejuice The Musical, The Musical, The Musical (three times is the charm) opens at Chrysler Hall on Tuesday, December 12 and runs through Sunday, December 17. Do not delay. Get your tickets right here, right now.
Beetlejuice, the musical, is based on the “dearly beloved’ Tim Burton film from 1988. Like many beloved movies, Beetlejuice was transformed into a Broadway musical in 2019 with original score and lyrics by Eddie Perfect. It closed in 2020, because of the pandemic, reopened on Broadway in 2022, then closed again in 2023. Lucky for us, the show started touring the United States a year ago, and is making its Norfolk premiere this week.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know it’s the story of the Maitlands, a recently deceased couple who are unsuccessfully trying to haunt the new inhabitants of their home right out of town. They enlist the help of a very scary demon, Beetlejuice.
One of the new, living inhabitants of the Maitland’s house is Lydia, a goth teen who is mourning the loss of her mother, and is thinking that going over to the dark side might not be a bad idea. I spoke to Isabella Esler, who snagged the role of Lydia right out of high school just over a year ago. This is her first professional gig. She says that Beetlejuice is “an ode to the weird among us.”
Beetlejuice The Musical, The Musical, The Musical centers the story around Lydia. Esler says that “Lydia is strong, smart, and even though she is grieving her mother, she is the one who is able to bridge the gap between the living and the dead.”
In Beetlejuice, the movie, Michael Keaton played a scary, unpredictable, and very
misogynistic demon, who just wanted to come back to the real world. He uses any means at his disposal. Esler tells me that even though Beetlejuice in the musical, played by Justin Collette, is still raunchy, he and Lydia are best of friends. They work with each other to bring all the inhabitants of the house, both living and dead, together to live in peace.
Beetlejuice is all about making the most out of life while you are still on this side. It’s about spending time with your loved ones before it’s too late. Esler says that the musical is also about the idea of a “found” family. Your family might not just be the people who are your blood relatives. They may not even be people who are alive.
“Your found family might continue through life forever and beyond.”
I love a good story, but I also love a good musical with good music. Esler says the score of Beetlejuice is “a whole lot of fun.” Eddie Perfect gave each main character their own genre. Lydia is definitely rock/pop, and don’t worry, she will be levitating in the end to that Harry Belafonte classic. The Maitlands go straight into musical theater mode. Beetlejuice is, of course, heavy metal all the way.
This is not a show for young children. There is “strong language, mature references, and a lot of crazy, inappropriate stuff you would expect from a deranged demon.”
Make someone’s DAY – O. Tickets to Beetlejuice would make a great holiday gift.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/beetlejuice