A couple of times during the show, Mike leaned in to me and whispered, "why is the audience screaming at everything?" It is true that literally (yes, I know what that means, and I am using it correctly) every single song was greeted with actual screams of approval, whether it was at the end of a giant production number, the end of each belt-your-face-off song (which accounts for every song), every joke (funny or not). Heck, they screamed at costumes, set pieces, and even a puppet that got the kind of ovation generally reserved the first performance of a newly-minted Tony Award winner. Hey, I love an enthusiastic audience, please don't misunderstand. But every reaction was at a level 10, with no where to go up; such uniformity of praise leads me to ask: did they mean it every single time, or was it what they thought was expected? To be fair, since Beetlejuice itself arrives at a level 10 and never modulates, so I guess the reaction was understandable. The result is that everything about the evening is exhausting on both sides of the footlights.
WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
Alex Timbers should know better, and is more than capable of finding ways to slow things down, trim the fat, and break the monotony.
The book (by Scott Brown and Anthony King) is overstuffed with plot as I mentioned. And there are so many unnecessary characters that take up time and drag things out. Did we really need that girl scout bit? One song, one scene and she's gone. Did we really need to meet the life coach's life coach? An offensive stereotype, and a half-assed sight gag weren't worth the time they took. And Miss Argentina? Another one and done moment that contributed nothing but another production number and a one scene joke. I'll assume from the screams of delight that these things are familiar and beloved from the film? Brown and King do provide many well-deserved laughs - I laughed a lot. It was crude, mildly offensive, and somehow, I mean that as a positive. It is the unrelenting, unmodulated tone of the whole thing that offers diminishing returns.
|Sophia Anne Caruso, Rob McClure, Kerry Butler|
Now, here's where this review might take a surprising turn. Individually, I think most of the other elements are really very good. David Korins has created another great set, as expected, and manages to create an opulent, magical work space for the energetic cast to play in. Peter Nigrini's projections are creative, and Kenneth Posner's lighting is appropriately crazy (though the house lights pre-curtain and during intermission were annoying). Connor Gallagher makes a very respectable debut as a choreographer - seems he used his time with Beauty and the Beast to learn how to set dances around a fair amount of stage clutter - no small accomplishment given the excesses of the production.
|Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser|
|Alex Brightman and Sophia Anne Caruso|
Seeing this show reminds me of something my grandmother used to say around Halloween. It was something about not eating all of my candy at once. It could make me sick, but it definitely will stop being a treat after the fourth or fifth piece. Sugar rush...empty calories...
📸: J. Kyler, M. Murphy