Make your Day-O By Viewing the Musical ‘Beetlejuice’ at PPAC

Through April 30, sing along to the hauntingly fun toe-tapping musical about death, love and family.
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Isabella Esler as Lydia Deetz performs alongside Justin Collette in the musical Beetlejuice, showing at PPAC through April 30. Photography by Matthew Murphy.

Pull out your black dress or black-and-white-striped suit and have a seat at the Providence Performing Arts Center to witness the musical Beetlejuice, based on the classic 1988 movie by Tim Burton. Through April 30, witness Beetlejuice, the ghost-with-the-most, and the strange and unusual Lydia Deetz as they wreak havoc upon meeting a recently deceased couple who once resided in her new home.

With music and lyrics written by Eddie Perfect and book by Scott Brown and Anthony King, Variety Magazine dubs the musical adaptation “screamingly good fun.” The set design, wardrobe and overall script merges to produce a night of toe-tapping, in-your-seat dancing and endless laughter. Check out the cast and creative crew here.

Beetlejuice is played by award-winning actor, musician and writer Justin Collette, and Lydia Deetz is played by Isabella Esler, who recently graduated from high school in San Jose, California, and is making her professional debut as she tours the nation with the Beetlejuice team.

Both Collette and Esler’s favorite performance was “Say My Name,” the performance set on the roof of the house where Beetlejuice is trying to convince Lydia to utter his name three times to make him come alive. “It’s just so funny and it’s one of the first songs I heard when I first listened to the Beetlejuice soundtrack,” says Esler, who finds the song clever and enjoys singing it with her partner-in-crime Collette. The last scene of the play is also included in her favorites, as it brews so much chaos and further demonstrates the unhinged absurdity that is Beetlejuice.

Another fun scene for Collette to perform is the attic scene with Barbara and Adam Maitland, the deceased couple living inside Lydia’s new home, played by Britney Coleman and Matthew Michael Janisse. “‘Fright of their Lives’ is such a fun emotional turn for him, to go from being so hopeful and having faith in them to being incredibly despondent of how lame people are, it’s such a fun trip to do every night,” says Collette.

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Justin Collette and Isabella Esler dance on the living room table as cast members Britney Coleman as Barbara and Will Burton, who also plays Adam, watch from the attic stairway. Photography by Matthew Murphy.

As the Beetlejuice cast and crew travels throughout the nation, they’re always intrigued by the different responses the audience members have during certain scenes. “Some moments work the same everywhere, then some moments are wildly different depending on what state we’re in or what day of the week it is,” says Collette. “Because we involve the audience so much in this show, it feels ironically alive all the time because there are so many moments that are constantly different.”

Collette and Esler admire their respective characters and what each of them represent throughout the musical.

“I love Lydia because from first glance you see this goth girl who’s kind of moody and very much a teenager, but I love the side that she shows when she’s compassionate, she cares a lot about her family and that’s why she’s so determined to bring her mom back into her life,” says Esler. “Showing her heartwarming side is really important to me, I love that about her and not just being this sad teenager. She has a lot of character.”

Playing Beetlejuice on the other hand allows Collette to explore fun and unique ways to define this disturbed role. “My favorite part is playing a character that’s intimidating; there’s a fun level of power to play this character that people know so well and is so unhinged,” says Collette. “It’s a safe space to have those appetites to be extremely vulnerable and laid out for all to observe.”

On opening night, the Beetlejuice cast paid tribute to actor, singer and activist Harry Belafonte, who had died on April 25 from congestive heart failure at ninety-six years old. The “Banana Boat” singer holds a special place in the musical team’s hearts, and will continue to sing the momentous song in his honor.

Visit the website for showtimes. $67–$129. 220 Weybosset St., Providence, 401-421-2787,



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