The musical comedy “Beetlejuice” is gearing up for a widespread Midwest run, bringing its iconic neon green and purple aesthetic to Wisconsin, Ohio and Kentucky through 2024.

The show — based on Tim Burton’s film “Beetlejuice” — follows Lydia Deetz, a teen whose life gets flipped upside down when she meets a deceased couple “and a demon with a thing for stripes.”

We caught up with the show’s leading actor, Justin Collette, who plays the titular character, Beetlejuice.

What You Need To Know

  • The musical comedy "Beetlejuice" is based on Tim Burton's film 

  • We caught up with the show’s leading actor, Justin Collette, who plays the titular character, Beetlejuice

  • “Beetlejuice” will run at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wis. (Dec. 5 - 10), the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wis. (Jan. 9 - 14), the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, Ohio (Jan. 16 - 28) and the Kentucky Center in Louisville, Ky. (May 14 - 19)

Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin: What attracted you to “Beetlejuice” in the first place?

Justin Collette: I saw the show in D.C. when it was in previews [in 2018], and I just really, really loved the writing and the music. I thought the script was so funny and I thought the dialogue — it didn’t feel like dated or old. It felt very current, and I felt that it was something that I would really, really like to do and I felt like I got what [the writers] were going for.

Justin Collette (Beetlejuice) and Tour Company of Beetlejuice. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Spectrum News: How would you describe the show to someone who knows nothing about it?

Collette: “Beetlejuice” is about a teenager who’s grieving the loss of her mom. She ends up teaming up with a demon who wants attention. They’re both trying to deal with death.

“Beetlejuice” is just so ubiquidus that I find that when I’m trying to describe it, it’s like trying to describe what something smells like. It’s so hard without referencing [the show itself] — pizza smells like pizza. It’s hard to pick it up from its parts, which is what’s so fun about this show. Even if you don’t know what “Beetlejuice” is about, I still feel like people understand the convention of saying his name three times means he’ll show up. It’s just become such a part of the cultural zeitgeist.

Spectrum News: It really has. I was scrolling on social media one time and I saw this post of all these teenagers and young adults dressed up for “Beetlejuice” and there was a line around the block. It was crazy.

Collette: That happens almost every single show. It’s a very “Rocky Horror Picture Show” vibe that we have going here. It’s weird to not see people dressed up in the audience like you.

Spectrum News: What is it like to have that dynamic with the audience? That’s really unique.

Collette: It’s just such a stark symbol of support and kinship. It’s like visually just seeing people’s investment in the show when you’re on stage and it’s uplifting when you’re doing like eight shows a week [in] a new city every week. It can be really tiring, but seeing people in the audience who have spent time on these handmade costumes to come see you perform. They’re literally showing you, “Look how much I like this.” It’s really heartwarming.

Justin Collette (Beetlejuice) and Tour Company of Beetlejuice (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Spectrum News: Speaking of costumes — your costume is pretty ornate. You’ve got a lot going on yourself. What is that getting ready process like?

Collette: [My costume] is a three-piece suit with Hollywood pants, so it’s kind of restrictive to sit down in and stuff. So, to tell you the truth … I put the costume on like literally right before we go on stage.

I show up an hour early and start getting my makeup and hair done. The makeup takes about 15 minutes every day … The wig is about five minutes.

I have amazing makeup people here that do my [makeup]. I could not — I would look so stupid [if I did it myself]. It would look like I stuck Beetlejuice’s face in a bottle; it would be so sad. It would probably be more terrifying, to be honest with you.

Spectrum News: What’s been the most challenging thing about working in the show?

Collette: Figuring out how to maintain the character while moving around so much. It’s not like you can go to a doctor and ask them, “Hey if I do this Beetlejuice voice 30 hours a week, are my vocal chords going to explode?” Like, no one really knows. It’s all kind of trial and error to figure out how to do the show at the energy level that I want to do it at while also staying healthy.

Spectrum News: What do you hope people take away from the show?

Collette: A better sense of how to laugh at things that scare you.

Pictured (L-R): Britney Coleman (Barbara), Will Burton (Adam), Isabella Esler (Lydia) and Justin Collette (Beetlejuice). (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Catch Collette in “Beetlejuice” at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wis. (Dce. 5 - 10), the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wis. (Jan. 9 - 14), the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, Ohio (Jan. 16 - 28) and the Kentucky Center in Louisville, Ky. (May 14 - 19). 


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