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The Reviews Are In: ‘Beetlejuice’ Starring Alex Brightman on Broadway

Category Broadway

|by Mikey Miller |

“A Tony for the sandworm!” – The Guardian

Rumor has it that if you say Beetlejuice’s name three times, he will star in a show on Broadway.  After an out-of-town tryout in Washington, D.C. in fall 2018, the demon and his pals opened last night at the Winter Garden Theatre. Beetlejuice, based on the 1988 movie of the same name (which was directed by Tim Burton and starred Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) is the story of Adam and Barbara Maitland, a recently deceased couple who summon the exorcist ghost Beetlejuice to scare away the wacky new residents of their home. The production stars Alex Brightman (School of Rock, Big Fish) in the title role, and he is joined by Sophia Anne Caruso (Blackbird), Kerry Butler (Mean Girls, Disaster!), Rob McClure (Noises Off, Something Rotten!) and Leslie Kritzer (Something Rotten!, Elf). What did critics think? Read on for highlights from 8 reviews of Beetlejuice.

‘Beetlejuice,’ starring Sophia Anne Caruso and Alex Brightman, is now on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

‘Beetlejuice,’ starring Sophia Anne Caruso and Alex Brightman, is now on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

“(Alex) Brightman is matched in star presence and musical chops by Caruso, as she travels to hell and back without losing her way. McLure and Butler find big laughs, too, as the sweet – but not too sweet – couple who finally find a reason to live after they’ve died. (Adam) Dannheiser, as Lydia's dad, grounds the role with sincerity without forgoing the loopy side, too.”

The Washington Post
“The upgrades in Beetlejuice, both aesthetic and textual, are all for the better, clearing out some extraneous material and thereby giving more prominence to the show’s best two performances – Sophia Anne Caruso, as death-obsessed Lydia, and Alex Brightman, as the titular trickster from beyond the grave. Wynona Ryder and Michael Keaton thoroughly owned those parts in Burton’s movie, so these are indeed challenging assignments well met.”

“Kerry Butler and, especially, Rob McClure are appropriately nerdy and lovable as the just-dead young marrieds, Pottery Barn types the show has some fun mocking. Leslie Kritzer is a standout as the unwelcome stepmom-to-be Delia (the great Catherine O’Hara in the movie), with a Seuss-style twist of hair and a seen-it-all, do-anything survival instinct. In fact, she’s so good – a joy when she’s on stage – that we have to take it on faith that anyone, even the mother-grieving teen Lydia (Caruso) could have anything against her.”

Broadway News
“The musical’s book, by Scott Brown (a former theater critic, perhaps proving there is indeed life after death) and Anthony King, is clever and rich in sardonic wit, with zippy one-liners detonating like a string of firecrackers almost throughout. The musical is considerably funnier than the movie. (Like many new musicals, Beetlejuice is lightly larded with nifty in-jokes referencing classic ones: Hello, Dolly! and Brigadoon and Fiddler on the Roof.)”

Daily Beast
“Peter Negrini’s projections and Kenneth Posner’s lighting, particularly evoking the Netherworld, deserve awards all of their own; they’re that hypnotically impressive. William Ivey Long’s costumes – from Beetlejuice’s (Alex Brightman) stripy suits to Lydia’s (Sophia Anne Caruso) goth wear and frilled red wedding dress – are gorgeous. Eddie Perfect’s songs and Connor Gallagher’s choreography are a colorfully married riot...Scott Brown and Anthony King’s book is full of snark, spark and wit.”

Entertainment Weekly
“The real surprise (Leslie) Kritzer’s Delia. A supporting role, yes, but one she blends with all kinds of comedy, whipping out a different gag from her proverbial fanny pack depending on the situation. Need some ham? She’ll ham it up. More physicality? She’s literally doubling over with laughter as we speak. Need another character? The part-Puerto-Rican actress transforms into Lydia’s shepherd to the Netherworld as Ms. Argentina, with a showstopper song and dance to go with it.”

The Guardian
“There’s a superb haunted house set design by David Korins, nifty special effects from Jeremy Chernick and magic and illusion design from Michael Weber, to say nothing of the spectral lights, the ghoulish costumes, the bananas hair and wig and makeup design and the puppetry. My God, the puppetry. A Tony for the sandworm!”

The Hollywood Reporter
“The show is a loving homage to a wonderfully weird original, reconceived for the stage with eye-popping design, full-throttle performances and a mischievous sense of fun that literally seems to drip from the Winter Garden Theatre's chandeliers, tinged a ghoulish green for the occasion.”

For more of the best of Broadway, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in May 2019.

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