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Theatre / Beetlejuice

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Say it three times...

The Musical adaptation of Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, which started its run in Washington D.C. in 2018 and opened on Broadway a year later.

After perishing in a gruesome accident, loving couple Barbara and Adam Maitland return to their home as ghosts and find that it's now under the ownership of the recently widowed Charles Deetz, his teenage goth daughter Lydia (who's still having a difficult time coping with the loss of her mother), and Delia, Lydia's life coach who's secretly in a relationship with the girl's father (a notable change from the film, in which she was simply her stepmother). Desperate to scare the family out of their beloved house, the Maitlands end up enlisting the help of the perverted and loudmouthed ghoul Betelgeuse, who eventually strikes up a wicked plan involving Lydia...


The musical alters and rearranges many aspects of the original story, but stays true to the zany, gothic visuals and absurd Black Comedy of Burton's classic. It was nominated for eight Tony Awards for the 2018-2019 season, including Best Musical.

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Instead of banishing BJ by saying his name three times again or getting him eaten by a sandworm, the cast gets him brought to life... to kill him and send him back to the Netherworld. Then Juno comes for revenge on Lydia for escaping the Netherworld and ends up the one eaten by the sandworm, as BJ tries to protect life now that he knows what it feels like, and he runs off to do something new while the two families decide to live together like in the film.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The death of Lydia's mother plays a huge role in both the story and Lydia's character. The latter spends most of the show grieving about her loss, and she eventually traverses to the Netherworld with the hopes of meeting her again.
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  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Applied to Betelgeuse himself, believe it or not. He looks far younger, his hair is now much neater and shorter (if not a little exaggerated and green), and he no longer has the black eye makeup and ugly teeth. He even wears his signature striped suit for the majority of the show, instead of the old, dirty clothes that he wore in the film.
  • Adaptational Dye Job:
    • Barbara is a brunette in the film, but is played by the blonde Kerry Butler in the original cast.
    • The D.C. tryout performances turned Lydia into a platinum blonde to accommodate Sophia Caruso's hair color, but she eventually went back to black for the Broadway run.
  • Adaptational Expansion:
    • The passing of Lydia's mother Emily is a crucial part of the plot, while it barely got a passing mention in the original movie.
    • Lydia and BJ form a bit of a friendly relationship (similar to the animated series) after she sets him free, and they spend the beginning of Act 2 scaring people and causing hijinks together.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Betelgeuse at the end, after "living" let him understand why life is important to those still alive, which seems to have sapped his love of murder.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Otho is no longer an interior designer; instead, he's a priest, guru and cult leader (or so he claims).
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the film, Juno was one of the few normal-looking ghosts in the Netherworld, with her only distinguishable feature being the huge slice in her throat. She looks a lot more exaggerated here, with a wrinkly white face and an enormous grey Beehive Hairdo. If anything, her design is more in line with the traditional Burton style.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Practically the entire main cast apart from the Maitlands and Lydia.
    • Betelgeuse manipulates the Maitlands from the start instead of merely being hired by them and then going into his schemes. He plans pretty much everything that happens to them. He's also way, way more into killing and/or murder, much to the horror of whoever he's talking to.
    • Mr. Deetz comes off as much more dismissive and indifferent to Lydia's pain by keeping his affair with Delia a secret until near the end of Act 1. This is mitigated in the second act.
    • Otho is a cult leader who sleeps with his acolytes and later confesses to being a conman.
    • Delia is Lydia's incompetent life coach who is also sleeping with Lydia's father.
    • Juno appears as an antagonist instead of a helpful character.
  • Ascended Extra: Miss Argentina has an entire song about how she regrets killing herself and missing out on the rest of her life. This is the first key moment that helps push Lydia out of her suicidal state.
    Miss Argentina: I'll tell you another thing, everyone here is alone. So if you are breathing, go home!
  • Batman Gambit: BJ modifies the handbook so Lydia won't know how dangerous it really is and think she can bring her mother back. Even after seeing first-hand the danger with the Maitlands, she falls for it hook, line and sinker because she's that desperate to have her mother back.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Lydia and Charles have the whole cast pull this on Betelgeuse, by actually letting him marry Lydia to live again... only to kill him within a minute so they can send him to the Netherworld and be rid of him.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Whether it's in the show, in televised performances, or even on the cast recording, Betelgeuse can go full Deadpool on you if he feels like it.
    Betlegeuse: If you die while listening to this album, it's still gonna keep playing!
  • Canon Foreigner: Sky the Girl Scout, who gets her own song at the top of Act 2 and ends up being BJ and Lydia's first scare victim.
  • Cutting the Knot: After the Maitlands refuse to open the handbook again, BJ comes up with a way to do it despite not being recently deceased himself: kill a bird and have Lydia pry the book open with its recently deceased beak.
  • Death by Adaptation: Otho.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • The Maitlands, due to the play focusing more on Lydia grieving for her dead mother. They still play a very important role, but it is diminished from their film selves.
    • In the film, Otho's a major supporting character who accompanies the Deetzes from the start. Here, he doesn't show up until the end of Act 1, and is quickly disposed of a few scenes into Act 2.
    • Juno isn't nearly as prominent as she is in the film, since she never meets nor helps the Maitlands in this version.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Betelgeuse, who goes after several men and women and frequently calls Adam sexy.
  • Dirty Old Man: The ghost with the most himself, lampshaded in the penultimate number "Creepy Old Guy."
  • Driven to Suicide: Lydia, as in the film. Unlike the film, BJ's main reason for stopping her is that he specifically needs a living person to say his name.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Creepy Old Guy" wherein the tables are turned on the ghost with the most.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Lydia goes through these, though she starts with depression instead of denial.
    • Depression: Lydia's main mood throughout the first act, upset at her mother's passing and how she thinks her father is trying to ignore it and her.
    • Anger: Lydia teaming up with the Maitlands and then Betelgeuse for revenge on her dad for getting engaged to Delia and ignoring her, and then acting out after BJ takes over the house.
    • Denial/Bargaining: Lydia denies that the Handbook and Netherworld are dangerous because she thinks she can use them to bring her mother back, spurred on by BJ’s claim that there’s a resurrection spell in the Handbook. She attempts to use it - and Barbara begins to disintegrate. As a horrified Adam and Lydia look on, BJ gleefully spills the beans on his Batman Gambit- knowing Lydia was that desperate to see her beloved mother again, he tricked her into casting a spell... for exorcising ghosts. High on his victory, BJ mocks Lydia’s weakness, cruelly tells her that her mom's gone for good, and forces her to accept his Scarpia Ultimatum just so he'll stop the exorcism.
    • Acceptance: After coming to terms with her father in the Netherworld, Lydia is able to pull herself together enough to out-con Betelgeuse and save everyone, becoming much happier in the process.
  • Freudian Slip: Betelgeuse does this about murder a lot.
  • Goth: Lydia, who's still mourning her deceased mother and is depressed. Becomes a Perky Goth after BJ takes over the house.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: The Maitlands, making BJ give up on getting them to be scary and move on to manipulating Lydia directly. The creepiest they manage is the "Day-O" haunting, and even that goes wrong.
  • Obviously Evil: The main thing that forces Betelgeuse to fall back on his cons is that absolutely no one trusts him after knowing him for more than a few seconds.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The show does a pretty good job at retaining many of the show's fantastical elements (characters like the Shrunken Head Man and the sandworm are indeed included), but liberties are still taken when they're needed.
    • The Maitlands' miniature model of the town, which served as a recurring location in the film, is removed. As a result, Betelgeuse is no longer tiny when he first meets Lydia.
    • Betelgeuse never turns into a giant snake. The closest thing we get to it is the enormous Betelgeuse head and hands that emerge at the end of Act 1.
    • The Maitlands' fatal accident is changed to them falling through the old creaky flooring in their house. In the film, they accidentally drove their car into a river.
    • The scene where the Maitlands grotesquely disfigure their faces is omitted completely.
  • Race Lift: The role of Otho is originated by Asian actor Kelvin Moon Loh.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Lydia hits hers when the Day-O haunting ends up being a positive for her father, leading to her summoning Betelgeuse to make things go bad again.
  • Refuge in Audacity: "Creepy Old Guy" starts with BJ not buying any of the con until things get so utterly over the top (both Maitlands coming onto him including Adam kissing him, wacky dance numbers, lots of Lydia laying it on thick) that he assumes that sure, Lydia absolutely wants to marry him and let him get what he wants because she has somehow developed a crush on a creepy old guy. Why not?
  • Teens Are Monsters: Lydia when Betelgeuse initially takes over the house. She spends three days just helping him prank people by scaring the crap out of them and making them think they're going to die, and is unfazed by the Maitlands' scolding on the matter.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: At the end of "The Whole 'Being Dead' Thing", the ensemble briefly vocalizes the original film's theme song.


Example of: