Beetlejuice musical forced out of New York theatre even though it is drawing crowds

A photo taken on Nov 25, 2019, shows the cast of Beetlejuice during the 93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals at Macy's Herald Square in New York.
A photo taken on Nov 25, 2019, shows the cast of Beetlejuice during the 93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals at Macy's Herald Square in New York.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Beetlejuice is not running out of juice at the box office, but the musical, which overcame a sluggish start to become a fan favourite on Broadway, is being evicted from its theatre.

It is making room for another musical that promises to be more lucrative.

Shubert Organisation, the largest landlord on Broadway, has ordered Beetlejuice to vacate the Winter Garden Theatre, where its last performance will be on June 6.

Next on the cards is a revival of The Music Man, a heavily promoted project from producer Scott Rudin that stars one of Broadway's most reliable audience draws: Hugh Jackman.

The ouster of a show that is doing well reflects the high demand for theatre space at a time when Broadway is booming.

The producers of Beetlejuice, linked to the theatrical arm of Warner, are hoping to find another New York venue, but the show's elaborate set would make such a move expensive.

They are also planning a North American tour starting in 2021 and exploring productions in Britain and Australia.

"It's disappointing," said Mr Mark Kaufman, executive vice-president of Warner Bros Theatre Ventures. "We took the time and we built a hit and, now, we're going to have our life at this theatre cut short."

The stage musical is adapted from a 1988 Warner movie, directed by Tim Burton, about a Goth girl and a pushy poltergeist warring within a haunted house.

In setting a deadline for the musical to leave, Shubert is invoking a "stop clause" that allows it to oust a show whose grosses fall below an agreed-upon level for two weeks in a row.

 

Invoking such a clause is not unprecedented, but what makes this situation unusual is that although Beetlejuice fell below the specified level last May, its grosses have since rebounded.

Shubert notified Beetlejuice producers in June - after the Tony Awards - that it had hit the stop clause. By the time the show rebounded, the Winter Garden Theatre was already committed to its next tenant.