After two years of delays, setbacks and an unending pandemic, Adam Lucas witnessed a resurrection. The 19-year-old New Jersey resident joined hundreds of screaming fans at the Marquis Theatre on April 8 for the Broadway return of “Beetlejuice: The Musical,” an irreverent adaptation of the hit movie. Together, they hooted, sang along to favorite numbers and gave star Alex Brightman a nearly two-minute standing ovation when he first sauntered onstage.
“The energy in the room felt amazing,” says Lucas. “I’ve seen a lot of Broadway shows, but this didn’t seem like those. It felt like I was at a rock concert.”
“Beetlejuice: The Musical” opened to ho-hum reviews and modest ticket sales in 2019 before gradually getting a second life thanks to TikTok fan videos. But then misfortune struck. First, “Beetlejuice” lost its home at the Winter Garden Theatre to a Hugh Jackman-led revival of “The Music Man,” leaving the technically complex show without a venue. Then COVID-19 arrived, shuttering theaters and making the possibility of the paranormal production ever getting a second act on Broadway increasingly unlikely.
During the musical’s initial run, die-hards often showed up to performances in costumes, another rarity in the staid world of Broadway. And the musical’s popularity only seemed to grow during lockdown. Sales of the cast recording surged and “Beetlejuice” afficionados engaged in elaborate displays of devotion: Lucas acted in and helped edit an online version of the show that was embraced and shared by the production and its cast. That gave Warner Bros., the musical’s backers, the confidence to push forward with remounting it at a new venue.
So far, ticket sales have been robust, with “Beetlejuice: The Musical” playing to capacity crowds.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of longevity,” predicts Mark Kaufman, executive vice president of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures. “In a perfect world, I think we could become one of the staples of Broadway. New audiences are constantly discovering us, and we have amazing word-of-mouth.”
Producers aren’t just limiting their ambitions to the Great White Way. Last week, the show announced that it will launch a national tour next December.
“We’re excited to get on the road and share this story with fans in different cities,” says Kaufman.
For now, the focus is on putting down roots in a new Broadway home. In a nod to its saviors, the company has decorated the walls of the Marquis with fan art featuring drawings and sketches of the show’s namesake and other characters.
Says Kaufman: “It was our way of giving back.”