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July 21, 2024

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Isabella Esler and Justin Collette in "Beetlejuice."

“Beetlejuice” Amps Up Wicked Fun at TPAC

Get ready for a lot of mischievous antics plus total entertainment overload.

HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health Broadway at TPAC
in partnership with Nissan present

Music & Lyrics by Eddie Perfect

Book by Scott Brown & Anthony King
March 12 – 17, 2024
Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s
Andrew Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
Nashville Parent recommends ages 13+

During the raucous opening number for the national tour of Beetlejuice β€” which opened last night at TPAC β€” the show’s namesake sings, “The Whole ‘Being Dead’ Thing”Β  β€” the show’s best song β€” and sets the manic pace for the evening. During his rapid-fire delivery, Beetlejuice takes control (an incredible, gravel-voiced Justin Collette), belting pithy lyrics that assure you he’s in charge while also flipping you off because, well, he’s lonely. Turns out the whole ‘being dead’ thing is a real drag. But come on, let’s not split hairs about the afterlife; you can take a joke and you’re going to β€” for the next three hours. Beetlejuice keeps up the frantic pace throughout. By the time the end of Act I arrives with the calypso, “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” there’s practically nowhere left to go. Luckily (or not), the morose and all-black-clad teenager Lydia Deetz (a spunky Isabella Esler) has a story arc to complete.

The Story

Beetlejuice‘s book (by Anthony King, who keeps the laughs rolling) loosely follows the beloved 1988 Tim Burton film (at least for Act 1). A recently deceased couple, the Maitlands (you get to see how they die), aim to haunt their home’s new inhabitants (the Deetzs) to force them out. Because the Maitlands are so nice, they need the help of Beetlejuice (who has been waiting for them). Lydia, in mourning for her deceased mother, is not happy in this new house, nor with her father’s new β€” ahem β€” life coach. Lydia wants her mom back, or at least to honor her in death. This plot point is at the crux of Act II and all of the action rests on its hinge. Lydia actually visits the Netherworld in search of her mother to no avail (thankfully). It works only for forwarding the show, although convoluted, but you do get to meet an assortment of deceased carnival-like characters. Let it go. You really came to see Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!

“Beetlejuice” Boasts an Award-Winning Production Team

This roller coaster ride of a show has mostly monotonous musical numbers, but director Alex Timbers loads scenes with gimics galore and physical gags. The production’s tight work is the result of its award-winning Broadway team. Outstanding technical prowess includes special effects (Jeremy Chernick) and projections (Peter Nigrini). There are also puppets (Michael Curry), frenetic lighting (Kenneth Posner) and a gothic scenic design (David Korins) for the house.

No, this show ain’t your mama’s Brigadoon, it’s your teenager’s Beetlejuice, and plenty of audience members wore black-and-white stripes for it. The cast is solid for this Beetlejuice-meets-Poltergeist-meets-Scooby Doo take and it’s a heck of a lot of devilish fun. While the story’s exhausted before the show’s end, you can be sure you are in for a wicked romp and total entertainment overload.

Because of some lewd content, Nashville Parent recommends this show for ages 13 and older.

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.