After 30 years, Beetlejuice is resurrected as a Broadway musical

A musical adaptation of Beetlejuice will bring the raunchy Ghost with the Most and lots of family drama to the stage in Washington D.C. this fall before haunting Broadway.
Beetlejuice is being revived as a musical 30 years after the 1998 film. Credit: Warner Bros.

Beetlejuice is being revived as a musical 30 years after the 1998 film. Credit: Warner Bros.

After three decades, pop culture's favorite undead charmer Beetlejuice is being resurrected for Broadway.

 

Unlike some head-scratching musical adaptations, this one makes sense. The 1998 film already has one of the most iconic musical scenes, a dinner scene where the Michael Keaton gleefully possesses everyone around the dinner table and makes them dance to Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song.

 

The show will premiere at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. this October, then transfer to Broadway.

 

This production will take that angle by playing up the family drama, director Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) tells the New York Times. He sees the film as a “family drama” whether it’s the Deetzes or the deceased couple who haunt their old home, the Maitlands.

 

Don’t expect a lovefest though. The production also promises a Beetlejuice who is “ruder, raunchier and more repellant than ever.” We’ll see about that — the show’s writers are a former New York magazine theater critic (Scott Brown) and Upright Citizens Brigade Theater artistic director (Anthony King).

How those two ideas come together could be interesting. Broadway adaptations of classic films can be great and actually add something new to the story. The best example was the lamentably short-lived Groundhog Day, Tim Minchin’s gem of a musical that didn’t just retell the movie, but gave its background characters new life and mined the depths Phil Connors sinks to psychologically and philosophically while contemplating his own immortality.

Songwriting duties for Beetlejuice are being handled by Eddie Perfect, who’s also writing the musical adaptation of King Kong (this is an absolutely real project that is happening). No casting has been announced.

As for the technical side, the show has some serious veterans at the helm: Scenic design is in the hands of David Korins (Hamilton), costume design is by six-time Tony winner William Ivey Long, puppet design by The Lion King’s Michael Curry and special effects design by Jeremy Chernick (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).

 
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