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REVIEW: Beetlejuice: A Fun, Dark Musical Comedy (Orpheum/HTT) 

Justin Collette (Beetlejuice) and the national touring company of Beetlejuice, which plays through September 24 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Hurry on over to the Orpheum to catch Beetlejuice before their short run ends. This dark comedy is a fabulous musical adaptation of the wildly popular movie of the same name. It’s morbid, it’s funny, it’s ridiculous, and everything in-between. In this show everything is big, from the characters, to the musical numbers, there’s never a dull moment. 

The night I went, the titular character of Beetlejuice was being played by the company’s amazing understudy, Matthew Michael Janisse. He knocked it out of the park in this role, never dropping his energy and portraying a despicable yet somehow lovable character with all the whimsy required. I adored his sleight of hand magic, which was done so well you never expected it. Safe to say, whether you get the original lead or the understudy, you are in for a good time. 

L-R: Karmine Alers (Juno), members of the company, Jesse Sharp (Charles), and Isabella Esler (Lydia).
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The whole show has a spooky mood, with intense lighting which includes many strobes and colored lights facing the audience. Like many modern productions, they use projections as well. However, they use the projects in the way I prefer, not as the set, but as a complement over the set. Through the use of projections they were able to create some truly strange looking moments as the set seemed to tremble, shake, and transform. The costuming was great as well, with everything you’d expect to be showcased from the film. 

My absolute favorite part of the production was actress Isabella Esler in the role of Lydia. Esler’s voice is simply phenomenal and it was a joy to listen to her sing. She is also a wonderful actress, which is important for her highly emotional role. Another great singer in the cast with great comedic acting skills is Kate Marilley, who plays the role of Delia. I greatly enjoyed her physical comedy alongside her wide range of vocal styles. 

Kate Marilley as Delia and Jesse Sharp as Charles in Beetlejuice. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The movie Beetlejuice has a huge fan base and I myself know many people who could quote the whole thing. Since I’ve only seen the movie once about a year ago, going into the musical I was worried that things would go over my head or that I would not enjoy it as much as the die-hard fans. While there are plenty of references to the movie and there were a few audience reactions that I did not participate in, I was never lost nor left feeling out of the loop. It is an enjoyable musical for old fans and first-timers alike. Check it out soon before it heads off to the Neitherworld.

Justin Collette (Beetlejuice) and the national touring company of Beetlejuice. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Beetlejuice plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through September 24th. Tickets are priced $99 – $199. 

Boo Segersin