Isabella Esler, who plays Lydia in “Beetlejuice,” lets audiences know what to expect in The National Theatre’s production.
It was 35 years ago when Tim Burton’s eerie comedy “Beetlejuice” ruled the box office, making a star out of Michael Keaton and upping the director’s credibility as one who could make the macabre mainstream.
“Beetlejuice” follows a boisterous demon summoned by the spirits of a nice recently-dead couple who simply want to scare the new owners out of the home they ghostly inhabit without causing any trouble. But as soon as they conjure up the rude and revolting Beetlejuice — by saying his name three times — things get out of hand.
Now, the hit Broadway musical based on the film — written by Scott Brown and Anthony King, with an original score by Eddie Perfect, and under the direction of two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers — takes everything you love about the movie and brings it to the stage.
It held its pre-Broadway run at The National Theatre in 2018, and a national tour of the musical comedy will return to its stage from May 16-28.
The show stars Justin Collette as Beetlejuice, Isabella Esler as Lydia, Will Burton as Adam, Britney Coleman as Barbara and Kate Marilley as Delia.
After seeing an open call, Esler went through about a year-long process in her audition for Lydia, sending in a self-tape for the Broadway production that turned into an audition for the national tour last summer.
The California native knew about the movie because both her parents were big fans, so she was introduced to the magic of Tim Burton early.
“I got invested in the musical because of its big presence on social media,” Esler says. “I had listened to the soundtrack and it just seemed like such a fun show and I loved the music. I was able to watch it on Broadway when they reopened after the pandemic.”
As Lydia, Esler gets to sing some of the most beloved songs of the musical, including “Home,” “Dead Mom” and “Creepy Old Guy.”
“It’s really fun to dive into this goth, sarcastic character,” she says. “I think she’s really funny and clever and I love to be able to plug into that and outsmart everyone. She’s very much a teenager, which I love. My favorite songs changes just about every week. With ‘Home,’ I am able to take a deep breath and look out at the audience and I feel very grounded in that moment.”
“Beetlejuice” has a lot of laughs, but also a great deal of heart, and that’s one of the things Esler enjoys about the show as a whole. She notes that fans of the movie will be impressed by how the musical incorporates all of their favorite characters and memorable lines.
“For people who have never seen the musical before but are fans of the movie, I think they like how fun it is, but also all the great references from the movie that are included,” she says. “People also like how Beetlejuice is really active with the audience. He interacts with them and it makes people feel more invested in the show.”
This is Esler’s first-ever national tour. She is enjoying stepping into different theaters, exploring the cities she is in and finding local restaurants. She also likes meeting people at the stage door after each performance and talking about the show.
Esler has been doing musical theatre since an early age and is excited to be living her best life, doing what she’s always dreamed.
“It’s so fun playing pretend, especially with live theatre,” she says. “The audience is reacting while you’re doing things, so that makes it even more special. This show is crazy, but in the best way possible.”
“Beetlejuice” runs from May 16-28. You can purchase tickets here.
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