Out of the (Nether)World Beetlejuice Musical On at National Theatre

Isabella Esler (Lydia) and Justin Collette (Beetlejuice).Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2022

It’s straight out of this (Nether)world and on stage now at the National Theatre — Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice….BEETLEJUICE!

Based on the original iteration of the cult classic Tim Burton-directed movie Beetlejuice (but all the more exciting now that audiences know a sequel is coming), Beetlejuice is truly a show about death. It’s also taking DC audiences into the most hilarious haunted house in the country.

Britney Coleman (Barbara), Will Burton (Adam), and Isabella Esler (Lydia) in Beetlejuice. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2022

BEETLEJUICE… the Musical follows the death of Adam (Will Burton) and Barbara Maitland (Britney Coleman) and also tells the story of Lydia Deetz (Isabelle Esler), a strange and unusual teenager who has been darkly affected by her mother’s passing. In a departure from the movie, it is Beetlejuice (Justin Collette) that leaves the Maitlands to haunt their home, which the Deetz family has just moved into. And the whole lot of them want them GONE (aside from Beetlejuice, who just wants anyone living to say his name three times in a row).

There’s a lot of hilarity that comes from the deranged demon — who is apparently quite politically progressive — and who commands the stage with bawdy vivacity, despite his being dead and in a prison of purgatory. In fact, Collette’s “spirited” and schticky performance is phenomenal (pun intended).

Juxtaposing Beetlejuice’s demonic demeanor, the Maitlands are the show’s heart, offering tenderness with Delia, bumbling moments of too-niceness, and laugh-out-loud crude interactions between Burton and Collette.

Isabella Esler (Lydia) in Beetlejuice. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2022

Lydia’s father (Jesse Sharp) brings another of the show’s best character’s into her life — life coach and soon-to-be stepmother Delia (Kate Marilley). Marilley kookily reincarnates Catherine O’Hara’s (Delia in the original movie) Moria Rose, is a ton of fun to watch, and earns her audience applause.

But it is Esler, making her professional debut in this traveling show, that truly wows. Not only does she nail the teenage angst, but her voice — her voice! She’s going to be a real star.

You might think the dead would be unfeeling, but there’s actually a lot of emotion in this one. It’s full of irreverence, artsiness, topical references, silliness and sandworm absurdity, too. Put on your jailhouse stripes and go enjoy it, because for a show about death, this one’s pretty lively!

BEETLEJUICE… the Musical is not necessarily appropriate for children due to strong language and mature references. Beetlejuice plays at the National for two weeks only, through May 28, 2023. Run time 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission. Tickets here.