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Broadway Q&A: Rob McClure of ‘Beetlejuice’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


“It’s one of the most life-affirming stories I’ve ever been a part of.”

Rob McClure stars as polite and mild-mannered Adam Maitland in Beetlejuice on Broadway. The musical is based on Tim Burton’s 1988 classic comedy-horror film of the same name. Life and death is uneventfully going along when suddenly Adam and his wife (Barbara) are forced to share their treasured home with a wacky human family (the Deetzes). The Deetz’s 17-year-old obsessed-with-death daughter, and an ever odder demon (Beetlejuice), may be the able to help. Beetlejuice also stars Alex Brightman as Beetlejuice, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia, Kerry Butler as Barbara, Adam Dannheisser as Charles and Leslie Kritzer as Delia. McClure was nominated for a Tony for playing Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin: The Musical. He has also appeared in Something Rotten, Noises Off, Honeymoon In Vegas, I’m Not Rappaport, Avenue Q, Person of Interest, Elementary and The Good Fight.

Sophia Anne Caruso, Rob McClure and Kerry Butler in ‘Beetlejuice’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Sophia Anne Caruso, Rob McClure and Kerry Butler in ‘Beetlejuice’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

What is the joy of doing Beetlejuice on Broadway?
Rob McClure: I am a huge fan of the movie. I have home movies at home of me doing the “Day-O” dance around my kitchen table. I was a huge fan as a kid. Beetlejuice is a singular universe. There's nothing like it. It was sort of the world's introduction to Tim Burton's brain. We had never seen the way he messed with perspective and proportion. This is a the story of a demon obsessed with the life, and this teenage girl obsessed with death. As a kid, it was a hysterically funny and macabre in a way that I don't think a kid has access to quite yet. I was so into it. It felt so edgy.

It’s also interesting to look at outcasts who are struggling to fit in.  
RM
: It’s so true. Part of the surprise of the musical is the emotional depth the story provides. In a show that's centers around death, it’s one of the most life-affirming stories I've ever been part of.

Tell us about Adam Maitland in this musical version.
RM: Adam Maitland is the Alec Baldwin part in the film. He is one of our recently deceased. I get to play opposite the amazing Kerry Butler. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time. I’ve never had the privilege of working with Kerry, and now I get to play opposite her. It's a dream.

Adam is a sweetheart. He is about as harmless as they come. He’s not the guy you want to attempt haunting your house. For someone who's trying to scare people away, he's about as bad a fit as you can find. They need Beetlejuice’s help help for sure. The musical explores a little more of what Lydia does for Barbara and Adam. These are two people who died before they had a chance to live. What this demon and this girl teach them is about how valuable the time they had was. And what they could have done with it. And now that they're dead, looking back, what's next? That that was really surprising to me. The movie has a very fast comedic gut punch, which is really great. But the musical really gives us an opportunity to dive into the emotional cores of these people a little more. That is exciting.

What was one of the first Broadway shows you ever saw?
RM: The very first Broadway show I saw was Cats at the Winter Garden Theatre. What’s so exciting is that we are playing the Winter Garden. I saw it during a sixth grade field trip. I sat in the second row of the mezzanine on the right hand side or house right. I remember thinking the set was genius. Everything was big, because the cats were little.

Can you talk about your Broadway debut?
RM: My Broadway debut was in a show called I'm Not Rappaport with Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen in 2002. Learning comedy from the two of them, I was a sponge. I remember being in a Staples in Paramus, New Jersey. The producer called me. We had just done the show at the Paper Mill Playhouse. He said, “Listen, we're bringing everyone from the show to Broadway. Here’s your Equity card.” I called my parents and sobbed. I thought, “Dreams are coming true.”

***

For more of the best of Broadway this season, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in September 2019

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