Beetlejuice, the immensely popular Broadway musical based on the Tim Burton classic, is facing eviction from the Winter Garden Theater to make room for the revival of The Music Man, starring the renowned Hugh Jackman. This news has caused an uproar among theatergoers and ignited the hashtag #SaveBeetlejuice on Twitter. Surprisingly, it is the teens on TikTok who seem to be leading the charge, rallying support for the show through their creative videos.
At first glance, it may seem peculiar to see such a passionate teenage fan base for a Broadway musical adaptation of a more than 30-year-old movie, especially considering the initial criticisms from establishment theater critics. However, Beetlejuice has managed to resonate with a Gen-Z audience in unique ways. The character of Beetlejuice is sexually fluid and rebelliously provocative, while Lydia, the leading lady, exudes a cynical attitude towards the world. Both characters represent a counter-cultural spirit that resonates deeply with the younger generation.
Beetlejuice has become a sensation on social media, surpassing the expectations of its creators. The musical’s popularity on platforms like TikTok is unprecedented, with millions of views for audio clips of its songs. This surge in popularity is largely driven by younger audience members and first-time Broadway attendees, challenging the traditional demographics of theatergoers. Beetlejuice has successfully captured the attention of Generation Z by blending pop-punk and riot grrl elements with themes of rebellion, self-discovery, and the struggle to find meaning in an uncertain world.
The success of Beetlejuice on TikTok is not limited to fans who have seen the musical or even the original film. The hashtag #BeetlejuiceMusical has been used over 43.6 million times in TikTok videos, expanding its reach beyond the show’s core audience. This phenomenon is reminiscent of the success experienced by Heathers: The Musical, where a snippet from the show became a viral audio. Beetlejuice has transcended its original context, captivating TikTok users who were previously unaware of the musical.
Composer Eddie Perfect, who reflects on the show’s surge in popularity, attributes its success on TikTok to the zaniness of the source material and its relatability to a generation grappling with economic instability and frustration towards their elders. Beetlejuice addresses the stress of self-discovery, the importance of personal connections, and the desire to maintain a semblance of control in a chaotic world. Its irreverent, macabre approach to these universal themes strikes a chord with young audiences.
Despite the strong fan support, it remains uncertain whether Beetlejuice will be able to stay on Broadway. Petitions on Change.org have been launched to save the show, proving the dedication of its followers. However, there have been no updates regarding the musical’s future. The possibility of Beetlejuice being replaced by The Music Man, a quintessential boomer musical, only adds irony to the situation, emphasizing the show’s rebellious spirit and its commentary on the transient nature of life.
Beetlejuice and its enthusiastic TikTok fanbase symbolize a new era for Broadway, where social media can have a profound impact on the success and longevity of a production. The undeniable power of Gen-Z culture and the ability of young fans to mobilize support through platforms like TikTok might forever change the landscape of Broadway. Regardless of the outcome, Beetlejuice has already carved out a place in the hearts of its audience and demonstrated that its message resonates with a generation longing for self-expression and authenticity.