How ‘Beetlejuice: The Musical’ Mounted a Broadway Return
After two years of delays, setbacks and an endless pandemic, Adam Lucas has witnessed a resurrection. The 19-year-old New Jersey resident joined hundreds of screaming fans at the Marquis Theater on April 8 for the Broadway return of “Beetlejuice: The Musical,” an irreverent adaptation of the hit film. Together they booed, sang along to their favorite numbers and gave star Alex Brightman a nearly two-minute standing ovation when he took the stage for the first time.
“The energy in the room was amazing,” Lucas says. “I’ve seen a lot of Broadway shows, but this one wasn’t like those. I felt like I was at a rock concert.
“Beetlejuice: The Musical” opened to ho-hum reviews and modest ticket sales in 2019 before gradually finding a second life thanks to TikTok fan videos. But then misfortune struck. First, “Beetlejuice” lost its home at the Winter Garden Theater to a Hugh Jackman-directed revival of “The Music Man,” leaving the technically complex show without a location. Then COVID-19 arrived, closing theaters and making it increasingly unlikely that the paranormal production would get a second act on Broadway.
During the musical’s first run, diehards often turned up for costumed performances, another rarity in the stuffy world of Broadway. And the musical’s popularity only seemed to grow during lockdown. Sales of the cast recording surged, and “Beetlejuice” aficionados engaged in elaborate displays of devotion: Lucas performed and helped edit an online version of the show that was adopted and shared by production and distribution. This gave Warner Bros., the musical’s backers, the confidence to move forward with its reassembly in a new location.
Ticket sales have been robust so far, with ‘Beetlejuice: The Musical’ playing at full capacity.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of longevity,” predicts Mark Kaufman, executive vice president of Warner Bros. Theater Ventures. “In a perfect world, I think we could become one of Broadway’s staples. New audiences are constantly discovering us and we have incredible word-of-mouth.
The growers don’t just limit their ambitions to the Great White Way. Last week, the show announced that it would be launching a national tour next December.
“We’re excited to hit the road and share this story with fans in different cities,” Kaufman said.
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 series namesake and other characters.
Kaufman says, “It was our way of giving back.