‘Beetljuice’ to Reclaim Center Stage in Musical Revival

Can the Ghost with the Most spurn sequel interest with his new Broadway bound show?

Musical remakes seem like they’re a dime a dozen these days. From Rocky to Mean Girls, all our favorite cinematic heroes will be belting out show tunes before we know it. I thought I had stopped scratching my head over the oddball celluloid leaps to stage. Moby Dick? Sure. Jerry Springer: The Opera. Why not? Anything goes.

Now it’s the time for Beetlejuice. While you were repeating his name over and over in an attempt to get that sequel off the ground, the Ghost with the Most has strapped on his tap shoes in a charge for Broadway. “Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Burton’s supernatural comedy will first make a practice run on stage at the National Theater in Washington D.C. The October world-premiere engagement will be directed by Alex Timbers (Rocky, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) with choreography by Connor Gallagher (Elf, Bunnicula) and music by composer/performer Eddie Perfect (King Kong, The Big Con). Looking at those credits certainly proves that any subject is worthy of the Broadway treatment.

Personally, I miss this era of Burton. Beetlejuice was a compellingly grotesque family drama that seared my brain back in 1988. It was a major box office success that spawned cartoons, cereal, and action figures. I had to consume them all, much to my mother’s abject horror.

Who could really blame her, right? The story of a recently deceased couple navigating the afterlife while trying to expunge the goth family that’s taken residence in their home is not necessarily the fodder of Saturday morning entertainment. The ’80s were weird, though. Beetlejuice was the film that gave Burton the blank check for Batman. It was a massive hit.

The title character even had his own Universal Studios stage show called “Betelgeuse’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard Revue.” Skits from that production had the striped ghoul partnering up with the Ghostbusters to battle rogue spirits. Please picture this, an actor caked in Beetlejuice makeup prancing to the beat of “I’m Too Sexy.” It’s impossible to un-imagine once seen.

The trick to Burton’s film is Michael Keaton. His aggressively disgusting spirit magnificently erupts laughter rather than revulsion. Here is a spellbinding performance that serves as a showcase for an actor’s talent. Birdman has nothing on this demonic prankster. His Betelgeuse is not a portrayl easily replicated. Again, please YouTube that Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard Revue.

Specific casting and dates for the musical version have yet to be announced. The challenge will be in filling the bones of not just Keaton but also Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, and Catherine O’Hara. I’ll be eager to see how the new performers “Jump in the Line” with Harry Belafonte.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the film. We here at FSR have been anticipating a sequel for quite some time. Will this stage musical stir further interest from Warner Bros. on giving it the greenlight? I guess that is determined on how many butts get sold into seats during the musical’s theatrical run.

They have sold at least one ticket. Will you join me?

Brad Gullickson: Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.