The touring company show of Beetlejuice at the Hollywood Pantages Theater is a stunning display of top tier stagecraft, showmanship and absolutely irreverent fun. It's rumored Michael Keaton improvised almost 90% of his lines in the original source material (The 1988 feature film from Warner Brothers). Somehow this adapted stage production managed to script that same feeling with the show stealing, absolutely hilarious title character performance by Justin Collette. It's always nice when the title character of a show is the best thing in the show, by far.
The stage adaptation remains loyal to the familiar screen story; a likable 'yuppie' Connecticut couple (A dynamic and completely contained Will Burton and a stunningly effervescent Britney Coleman) die prematurely while in the process of refurbishing their classic home. They quickly learn there's an afterlife with 'rules' written in a handbook for them to follow and all of this would be fine except they are saddened to learn a new family; a real estate father ( a very funny Jesse Sharp), his light spirited girlfriend (a wickedly talented Kate Marilley) and their goth teenage daughter (a showstopping Isabella Esler) are moving into their old home with intentions of transforming it into a modern monstrosity. In order to keep their Connecticut classic home a classic the couple enlist the aid of a local ghost named Beetlejuice (the unstoppably funny Justin Collette) to scare them away. What follows this (you already know), is an extremely well choreographed, masterfully designed demonstration of the power of top tier theater to bring meaningless joy to an audience.
The scenic design by David Korins is jaw dropping from start to finish. Leave all concerns of missing the film version at the door. Lighting by Kenneth Posner is simple but that might be the trick because this show never ever stops. Peter Nigrini's projection design, Michael Curry's puppetry and special effects by Jeremy Chernick all work to create what can only be described as a brilliantly designed 'Universal Studios ride' you want to get on again and again.
Hat's off to Scott Brown and Anthony King (book), Eddie Perfect (score) and director Alex Timbers for brilliantly corralling this irreverent pack of wild cats to make this 2 hour experience a joy it's lucky audience won't soon forget.
Beetlejuice runs through July 30th.at 8pmTuesday thru Saturday; Sundays 6:30pm; matinees Sat 2 pm and Sun 1pm. Hollywood Pantages Theatre