The Tony-nominated "Beetlejuice" is a stage adaptation of the Tim Burton dark comedy. It tells the story of Lydia Deetz, a teenager obsessed with death. Her new house is haunted by a recently deceased couple and Beetlejuice, a delightful demon with a real zest for life.
Brightman has earned a Tony nomination for the role but it's come at a cost. "Right, now I'm very Method. Now I wake up in the makeup. My wife's very unhappy. I have no more friends because I tend to just be the character all the time," Brightman joked.
The show is more than a musical version of the movie. It's got magic tricks, puppets, pyrotechnics, and big dance numbers, too, and all that requires extraordinary precision to keep everything on track.
Sitting on the stage, Sophia Anne Caruso, who plays Lydia, pointed out something the audience doesn't know about the set's couch. Specifically, how pungent it is. "It smells like dirty dancers," Caruso said. "We all sweat on it a lot."
While not sure how often the couch is cleaned, Brightman says it adds "to the charm of this set." Then, Caruso proceeded to run and jump on the couch, showing its trampolining attributes. Playing Beetlejuice requires non-stop kinetic energy and extra preparation before each performance. Unlike other actors who have to be at the theater 30 minutes before show time, Brightman has a much earlier call time.
"I'm here at least an hour before the show to get into all the prep that goes into it," he said, adding that he needs 30 minutes of makeup before the show starts and more as it progresses. Walking backstage, Caruso makes a stop at her favorite puppet, a giant sandworm that nearly fills the stage.
"This is my personal favorite puppet of the show. Her name is Big Sandy." Brightman says Big Sandy is more than a puppet. "It's another cast member of the show. We treat her with respect. We feed her... humans," Brightman said.
Caruso corrects him. "Ghosts, actually," she said. And that brings up Big Sandy's critical role: At one point in the show, Brightman rides the puppet, which defines it all for him "It is a harrowing experience that reminds everybody onstage and off that theater is live. Because when this thing comes onstage, if you haven't bought into the fact that theater is live by that point, you will," he said.
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