Uh-oh, are we having a Boebert?
That's what patrons were asking Tuesday when the opening night performance of the Broadway tour of "Beetlejuice" was delayed 15 minutes. The moniker for disruption comes from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who was vaping, took selfies with a flash and basically disrupted a performance of "Beetlejuice" last week in Denver before being ejected.
There was no Boebert-like incident in Minneapolis. The delay was from the stage crew checking sound cues to make sure that things went off without a hitch.
Things did, and guess what? The afterlife, my friends, will be a loud, boisterous amusement park ride. That hellscape is only one of the reasons you want to wait as long as possible before you die. The other is there's still lots of fun to be had.
Alex Timbers' brash, flashy production of "Beetlejuice" is true to the wacky, out-of-body spirit of the 1988 Tim Burton film. But this stage adaptation by Scott Brown and Anthony King departs in significant ways from the screenplay. Barbara (Megan McGinnis) and Adam Maitland (Will Burton), the couple who die before haunting their former home, do so now in a new, shocking way.
And the narrative centers on grieving teen Lydia (played with spunk and attitude by the impressive youngster Isabella Esler), whose mother has died and whose father, Charles (Jesse Sharp), has a thing going with life coach Delia (Kate Marilley).
The tone of the show is set early. As the production opens, Lydia is draped somberly over her mother's coffin, singing about grief and invisibility. But then the title character (Matthew Michael Janisse in a performance worthy of Michael Keaton and Robin Williams) rudely interrupts.
"Holy crap — a ballad already?" he exclaims, and we're off to the outré and irreverent races. Strap in. What follows is a broad, gaudy ride through a haunted funhouse (the weirdly angled set designed by David Korins looks like something dreamt up by Salvador Dali).
There are clever elements in Eddie Perfect's tunes, even if the songs sometimes feel mechanical. The music is pumped up to volume 10 in the theater, and you wouldn't be wrong to feel as if you are under a sonic assault.
This cast pours their hearts into the show. Janisse, who covered the role for Justin Collette, is wild in the title role, and it's not just because of how he looks in his striped suit and shock of hair, all with gooey green accents. This guy is an impresario of the underworld, and, ooh, he's cringe-y. But he's our guide, and he's paradoxically forthright about it.
That honesty would explain why his big number, "Creepy Old Guy," is a showstopper. Esler delivers "Dead Mom" and "Home" from her aching heart. She's well cast in an ensemble with lots of competent players. Marilley leads off "Day-0 (The Banana Boat Song)" with a kind of disembodied vacancy that's almost a metaphor for "Beetlejuice."
In its over-the-top garishness, the musical makes the afterlife a carnival of scary fun.
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
When: 8 p.m. Fri., 2 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun.
Tickets: $99-$199. hennepintheatretrust.org.