Get ready to step into a world of stripes, sandworms and Netherworld shenanigans as the national tour of Beetlejuice: The Musical comes to Denver for a limited engagement at the Buell Theatre. Based on Tim Burton's beloved 1988 film, this hilarious and peculiar musical has captivated audiences across the country, and it's now making its way to the Mile High City for a run from Tuesday, September 5, to September 17.
Beetlejuice includes music and lyrics by Eddie Perfect and book by Scott Brown and Anthony King, and spins the tale of Lydia Deetz, an eccentric and unusual teenager whose life takes a wild turn when she crosses paths with a recently deceased couple and a demon with a penchant for stripes. With its zany characters, catchy tunes and offbeat humor, the show promises a delightful experience for both fans of the original film and newcomers alike.
The journey of Beetlejuice to the stage has been as spirited as the ghostly characters it portrays. Despite a large audience and being nominated for eight Tony Awards, the production's initial run in the Winter Garden Theatre was cut short by the Shubert Organization issuing a stop clause, which allowed it to evict a show if its grosses fell below an agreed-upon level for two weeks in a row.
Following its eviction, the show's producers were unfazed and listened to the enthusiastic fan response, which inspired the production to rise from the ashes and move to a different theater, extending its run and earning legions of new fans in the process. The creative team of Beetlejuice began its first national tour in December 2022, bringing their spooky theatrics and musical magic to cities all over the country. Denver theater-goers can anticipate an unforgettable theatrical experience complete with stunning set designs, cutting-edge special effects and a hint of the macabre.
Kate Marilley, who plays Delia, Lydia's new stepmom. "Ever since I saw the original production at the Winter Garden on Broadway, I’ve wanted to be in this show. So the fact that I get to play this fabulous role is a dream come true! I also saw the remounted production on Broadway at the Marquis, as well. I’m a massive fan of the movie — especially the brilliant Catherine O’Hara."
Brian Vaughn, who plays Maxie Dean, relates that while it had been a while since he had seen the film, "my daughter was a huge fan of the musical and encouraged me to go in for it. I did see the Broadway production during our rehearsal weeks in New York. I loved it. It had a fabulous cast, and the overall production, direction and design were incredibly top-notch. It was a blast."
Denver itself holds a special place in the hearts of both of these cast members. Marilley and Vaughn have acted with the Denver Center Theatre Company multiple times and are eager to explore the city. Some of Marilley's favorite Denver Center roles include Judy Haynes in White Christmas in 2007 and 2012, and Alice/Mrs. Winthrop in The Secret Garden in 2017. She is looking forward to taking in Red Rocks, visiting the Brown Palace for afternoon tea and tasting the delicious cuisine at Panzano.
Meanwhile, Vaughn reminisces about the holiday production of A Christmas Carol at the Denver Center, a tradition cherished by many. "I had the great pleasure of playing Bob Cratchit in that production for four seasons, and the experience remains a personal and professional highlight," he says. "I can't wait to hit the many great restaurants and bars around town. I love strolling Larimer Street and walking through Commons Park, having drinks at the Cruise Room or sampling craft beer at some of the local breweries, and it's a tradition for me to go to the Buckhorn Exchange for martinis and steak. I also love hiking the many awesome trails in the surrounding area, and am really hoping to get to a Rockies game on our day off."
Preparation for the performances involves both physical and vocal warmups, as the demanding choreography and songs require the cast to be in their best shape. Marilley reveals her pre-show ritual for Delia, saying, she will "vocally warm up and get my breathing ready — as these songs are challenging — and a physical warmup, since I do so many pratfalls and intense movement. I drink ginger crystals pre-show and suck on Greather's Pastilles for my voice."
For his part, Vaughn prefers to warm up by "yucking it up with my castmates before and during the show. We have a great time."
For Marilley, the highlight of the show is "without a doubt, 'Day-O,'" she says. "It’s iconic from the movie, so the fact that I get to step into Catherine O’Hara’s stilettos and bring this famous number to life every night is awesome. I’m so looking forward to returning to the Buell and to the Denver Center. It’s one of my favorite theaters and theatrical experiences in my career."
So prepare to be spirited away on an adventure of whimsy, wonder and the strangely delightful as Beetlejuice casts its spell over Denver's theater scene. From the magic of the performances to the shared laughter and connections among the cast, this show promises to be a celebration of the extraordinary, reminding us that even in the afterlife, the power of love, communication and shared experiences endures.
"My favorite moment in the show is when Lydia sings 'Home' in the Netherworld, and the scene between her and her father," says Vaughn. "It's the heart of the show and a great reminder about what it means to truly communicate with the people you love. I'm excited to perform in the Buell. One of the lovely things about this tour is all of the beautiful and historic theaters we get to perform in. I've seen a couple shows at the Buell. I can't wait for my own opportunity to perform there, and for Denver audiences to come see Beetlejuice."
Beetlejuice, Tuesday, September 5, through Sunday, September 17, Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, $35 and up, denvercenter.org.