Beetlejuice: A Show About Death

Two months ago, the pre-Broadway run of Beetlejuice: The Musical opened at the National Theatre. Based off of the iconic film by Tim Burton in 1988, the show takes Beetlejuice’s dirty humor to a whole new level.

In the first act, we meet Beetlejuice (who introduces us to the show and warns us that it is “a show about death”) and Lydia. Lydia, dressed in all black, lays a rose on her mother’s casket. After the funeral ends, we find the Maitlands wondering what they’re going to do with the rest of their (short) lives. The floor then gives out and the couple falls into the basement, dying. Beetlejuice runs back onstage and says to the audience. “Aw, man! Did I miss it? I really wanted to see that,” cracking one of his earliest jokes about death in the show.

The first act ends with Beetlejuice wrapping his arm over Lydia’s shoulder and saying “[the hourse is] ours now, kid.” implying that they’re free to do basically whatever they want. And the curtain falls.

Act Two opens with an outer shot of the house and a little Girl Scout selling cookies. Lydia opens the door when she knocks and invites her inside, where we get a look at the house since the first act had ended. Everything is covered in stripes and the atmosphere is just spooky in general. Lydia tells the Girl Scout that she’s going to go get some money to pay for the cookies but instead comes back with an ax, scaring the little girl, who collapses on the floor, presumed dead. Beetlejuice and Lydia have sent up a haunted house where they can use Beetlejuice’s skill to scare anyone who comes to the door.

Back in the mortal world, Beetlejuice has chained up both Maitlands and Delia. He reveals to them that they are on a “game show” called Life or Death. Otho is then revealed to the audience, and he has been tied up on a wheel that Beetlejuice will spin to decide the fate of the contestants. Right when Beetlejuice is about to spin the wheel, Lydia bursts in a red wedding dress, telling Beetlejuice that she’ll marry him. Beetlejuice changes into a red wedding suit, and the reception begins. They are married, and Beetlejuice is brought to life.

After about three minutes, Beetlejuice is then stabbed and killed. Adam Maitland draws a door to the Netherworld, and Beetlejuice advances towards it, until Mrs. Juno, who is revealed to be Beetlejuice’s mother, emerges and scolds Lydia for leaving the Netherworld when you aren’t supposed to come back. Beetlejuice comes back with a sandworm and finishes off his mother, and finally walks into the Netherworld’s door saying “It is finished.” A reference to what Jesus said on the cross during his crucifixion. The show ends with the Deetz’s and the Maitlands cleaning up the house and singing.

This show was fantastic, and I loved every second of it. However, the show was much better in the second act than the first, and it was more gut-wrenching. This show is set to head to Broadway on April 29, 2019, and I am very excited to see how it does.

By: Thomas Perry ’22