Adapting a beloved movie into a Broadway musical is an intimidating enough creative endeavor on its own -- never mind tackling one that's achieved cult favorite status. That's just the challenge the creative team behind the new Beetlejuice faced, taking Tim Burton's visually spectacular, twisted comedy to the stage. But thanks to a great deal of eye-popping stagecraft, an incredibly game cast and a tonally on-point score by composer and lyricist Eddie Perfect, the show has won wide acclaim - and, now, eight Tony nominations, including for best original score for Perfect and best musical.
On this week's episode of the Billboard on Broadway. podcast, Perfect, along with actors Sophia-Anne Caruso (Lydia) and Kerry Butler (Barbara) discuss how Beetlejuice made the challenging transition from screen to stage so successfully. "You're always juggling serving the film and people's memory of it and its iconic imagery, and trying to make it work onstage in a two act structure," says Perfect, who spent most of his career thus far in Australia and started out largely writing solo comedy shows with original songs.
He was attracted to the humor in the story, but also the pathos. "I think comedy's one of the hardest things to do," he says. "But I love working in comedy, because I think you can get away with more. I tend toward darker material, and I love how in comedy you can talk about really serious things." 17-year old Caruso, who most recently starred in the off-Broadway David Bowie musical Lazarus, found similar a similar appeal to the project. "I'm not about just putting on a campy musical that just makes you feel only happy. I like to make people think," she says. In Beetlejuice, "we discuss dark things, and I think the comedy keeps it upbeat. "