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First look at Beetlejuice musical reveals new take on the character

Michael Keaton may own the role of Betelgeuse (pronounced "Beetlejuice") on the big screen, but the character is making his musical debut on the stage this weekend, and a new actor is filling out the black and white suit and the green wig. Alex Brightman of the SCHOOL OF ROCK musical fame is taking on the role, and the first image of the ghostly trickster has been revealed courtesy of EW.

Take a look at the image below, and this modern take on the character isn’t all that far off from the look of the theatrical version from 1988. The hair is still wild, the teeth are still rotted, and look in Brightman’s eyes is as manic and delightfully fiendish as Keaton’s was in the classic Tim Burton film.

Director Alex Timbers talked about the various costume designs the team went through – ranging from looks that came closer to Keaton’s version all the way to something radically different. In the end, they settled on the “younger, punkier” version that you see before you. Even though Keaton’s work on the character is so iconic and definitive, Timbers says Brightman is able to bring something new and leave his own stamp on the character.

“One of the things I love about Alex is, not only is he a great theater performer, but he’s also a writer, so he brings a sensibility that can stand outside the performance. His Beetlejuice] is definitely not a Michael Keaton impression. It’s his own. It’s filtered through the sensibility of Alex Brightman.”

Following the same story as the movie, this time around the musical will focus more on the relationship of Lydia Deetz (played by Winona Ryder in the movie) and Beetlejuice, with Timbers comparing them to other great musical duos.

“Refocusing the story on Lydia’s emotional journey, Lydia’s relationship to Beetlejuice — who were [both] more like secondary characters in the film — felt like a great way in. Beetlejuice and Lydia are both trickster figures, in a way. Certainly Beetlejuice is, but musical theater has a great history of con men as characters when you think about Bialystock and Bloom or Harold Hill in The Music Man, so it felt to me that the DNA of those two characters felt like great musical theater protagonists in the way they work off each other.”

There was virtually a confirmation that a sequel to the original movie was written and ready to shoot all the way back in 2015, but it’s been three years, and nothing has come of it. Since then this musical was announced, and the finished product will offer a fresh spin on the character and the story. Who knows, if this does well maybe the sequel will kick back into gear with the cast and Burton returning. Maybe if we say his name three times with the word “sequel” attached it will magically appear!

BEETLEJUICE hits the stage this Sunday in Washington, D.C. before heading to Broadway next spring. 

Source: EW

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