Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

"Beetlejuice" review

Justin Collette is an exuberant, energetic Beetlejuice. He is shown here with Britney Coleman as Barbara (who is not in the touring cast that's in Seattle right now), Will Burton as Adam, and Isabella Esler as Lydia. (Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2022)

‘Beetlejuice’ review: a fun, over-the-top show — if you can get in

"Beetlejuice" runs through April 7 and is not a great fit for the youngest kids.

There’s good news and bad news for anyone who’s got their eye on the touring musical “Beetlejuice,” at the Paramount Theater in Seattle through Sunday, April 7.

We’ll dispense with the bad first: Tickets are few and far between. A spot check earlier this week showed 10 or fewer available for most shows. You’ll need to act fast, and you might pay dearly.

On to the good: If you see “Beetlejuice,” you won’t be disappointed. It is an over-the-top spectacle.

‘Beetlejuice’ review

People love this show. You could feel the energy on opening night. It starts strong and doesn’t slow down, with Beetlejuice speaking directly to the audience and setting the tone. The opening number is called “The Whole Being Dead Thing.”

I won’t try to explain the plot because, honestly, it’s not that important. Basically, “Beetlejuice,” a ghost, wants to stop feeling invisible (“like a gay Republican,” he says) and needs a living person to say his name three times so that he can be seen. The mourning teenager Lydia and the recently dead Barbara and Adam Maitland want his help toward their own goals, and Beetlejuice thinks maybe his can be achieved along the way, too.

The show is recommended for ages 13 and up, with this explanation: “This show contains strong language, mature subject matter, and a lot of the crazy, inappropriate stuff you would expect from a deranged demon.” They aren’t kidding about the strong language: Lots of four-letter words are flying, and sexual innuendo pops up when you least expect it. In addition, Beetlejuice includes haze and fog, sudden loud noises, pyrotechnic and strobe lighting effects. Some of this happens suddenly and without warning.

"Beetlejuice" review

Lydia (Isabella Esler) looks at the “Handbook for the Recently Deceased” with Adam (Will Burton) and Barbara (Megan McGinnis) in a scene from the touring production of “Beetlejuice.” (Photo byDan Norman, 2023)


Another reason to be mindful of who is watching: A key part of the plot is that a young girl’s mother has died. I found this part gut-wrenching, a bit of an odd juxtaposition with the campy, creepy and irreverent overall effect. It all fits together, though, somehow. Lydia — played by Isabella Esler, making her professional stage debut — segues smoothly from mourning her mother to plotting against her father and the “life coach” who is his new companion.

My theater-loving teen was particularly impressed with Esler and the fact that she has just recently finished high school. She joked about how she loves to read the actors’ bios in the program and then “stalk them on Instagram.”

She went on to say that “Beetlejuice” probably won’t make her Top 5 list of musicals. (A couple of recent ones that will: “Six” and “Hadestown.”) It’s all very personal, of course. If “Beetlejuice” isn’t your jam — or you can’t get tickets, “Disney’s Aladdin” is coming to the Paramount later in April. And there are lots of tantalizing titles in the recently announced 2024-25 Broadway season.


More in Seattle’s Child

Review: “Massive: The Power of Pop Culture” at MoPOP


About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.