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Apr 17, 2019

Beetlejuice will forever hold a very special place in my heart. It wasn’t only my quintessential gateway horror movie, but it shaped a lifelong unapologetic appreciation for all things weird and macabre. The movie had a ‘lightning in a bottle’ combination of a devilishly rebellious spirit and a singularity of vision that introduced the world to the wonders of Tim Burton. It was, and forever will be an iconic and magical movie.

Every Saturday morning, Beetlejuice was my go-to cartoon, and my VHS of the movie practically melted from being watched so much. I had the Halloween costume (as a child and as a grown up) and at six years old, I got a ‘time out’ for making my Beetlejuice action figure say, “Nice fucking model!” in the first grade. Needless to say, Beetlejuice is a part of me.

The movie is just as sacred to countless others for all of the same reasons, which is likely why the Beetlejuice sequels and remakes have remained in production hell for decades. How can you possibly reimagine a classic that means so much to so many people? The answer: turn it into a musical.

Despite being a little apprehensive at first, what struck me within the first ten minutes of Beetlejuice the Musical was that it was developed with a tremendous amount of love and respect for the original movie. The show encompasses all of the many facets of what made the movie so great while expanding on the story in ways that are equal parts inventive and reverential. It even has several nods to the cartoon which just plain made me happy.

This is a killer show and I urge you to go see it. The costumes, the music, the humor, and the insanely elaborate Burtonesque sets and visuals are an overwhelming and blissful experience for fans of the original, plus the anarchistic spirit of lewdness and rudeness from the movie is retained in full force. I don’t know what else to say other than Beetjeluice the Musical is downright fucking awesome and it completely floored me.

We sat down with the writers of the show, Scott Brown (Sharp Objects, Castle Rock) and Anthony King (Silicon Valley, Broad City), and learned all about how they were able to turn such a beloved icon into a fantastic Broadway experience.

Before we get into the interview, here are 3 key pieces of advice for aspiring writers from Anthony King and Scott Brown.  

  • Find a writing group. A very common piece of advice for mastery in any domain is to have a mastermind group of likeminded peers who you can turn to to offer you feedback, inspiration, and the sharing of resources. This is probably most critical for writers. Multiple authors, and screenwriters frequently have writing groups, in which they have their work critiqued by others whom they trust. Scott & Anthony credit this practice for enabling them to grow significantly as writers. Try to find or create your own writing group, even if it’s just one person (for Steven King, it’s his wife).
  • Be comfortable being mad. Scott and Anthony have been collaborators for years, and claim that the ability to get super mad at each other, and then not take it personally, is key to their collaboration. Do they always agree on everything? No. But to have a working collaborative professional relationship requires embracing and exploring conflict, which they do comfortably.
  • Write to the end of each idea. There was a major plot point that Beetlejuice the Musical consciously did not address and it ultimately made the story much better and more honest. This plot point, which we mention down below, (look for the spoiler warning) was in earlier drafts of the script, and by exploring it fully and thoroughly, Scott and Anthony realized that it had to be taken out. Had they not explored this plot point, they forever would have been tormented wondering whether or not it belonged in the story. When writing a script or a story, certain plot points have to be explored to their very conclusion to know whether or not they fit in the larger story as a whole. Writers can only clearly see things like these retrospectively – in other words, you won’t know what belongs in your story until you get to the very end of it. Scott even went on to say: “You can’t fix it if it’s not finished.” So write all the way to the end, reevaluate, and rewrite.

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Produced by Simpler Media