In the new Broadway adaptation of Tim Burton’s 1988 cult classic film “Beetlejuice,” teenager Lydia takes center stage alongside the titular gut-busting demon (Alex Brightman) to reflect the famed goth girl’s journey through Beetlejuice’s funhouse of death and disaster.
“I think so many people connect to ‘Beetlejuice’ because it’s a story of outsiders, Lydia being the center of that,” said Alex Timbers, director of the new musical comedy. “You want to make the musical as emotional as possible and Lydia felt like she had that heft and that ability.”
At “Beetlejuice’s” opening-night red carpet on Thursday night at the Winter Garden Theatre, Sophia Anne Caruso, who plays Lydia on Broadway, wished longtime fans of the movie might again be uplifted by Lydia’s emotional journey.
“You never see a strong, young female like Lydia in a leading-lady role on Broadway, and I hope that she inspires young women who come to the show,” Caruso told Variety. “It’s important to see a teenage girl grieving; that’s almost never addressed. Children are expected to suck it up, as if they don’t feel all those awful things. They do.”
“We’re pulling in audiences who’ve never seen a Broadway show before because it didn’t speak to them,” Brightman told Variety. “Beetlejuice learns the price you pay to be mortal. And ‘Beetlejuice’ — capital-letter ‘Beetlejuice’ — speaks to so many more people than your typical Broadway crowd. We get the regulars, but we’re also getting real weirdos. And I say that with love.”
Just look at the fans who are showing up every night. “You come to the stage door,” said Adam Dannheisser, who portrays Lydia’s father Charles, “and everyone’s in black-and-white stripes and green makeup and you realize: oh wait, all of these people shared in this experience, in these characters that they loved.”
“When you’re turning something into a musical,” summed Rob McClure, who plays the recently deceased Adam Maitland opposite Broadway veteran Kerry Butler, “you have to find the emotional core that makes it sing — beyond ‘Day-O,’ beyond ‘Jump in the Line.’ The writers saw Lydia’s part in the film and thought there’s singable grief.”
Scott Brown and Anthony King, who adapted the movie into the musical’s script, wanted to bring a similar depth to all of ‘Beetlejuice’s’ characters, especially its titular demon, who actually had little less than 20 minutes of screen time in the original movie. “We tried to find [Beetlejuice] a motivation, so we grabbed on to this idea of him feeling isolated and alone in his death and wanting the same thing we all want — which is connecting with each other. That’s what Lydia wants,” said Anthony King. “That’s what life is.”