'It's Showtime!': Goblin King Players shadowcast 'Beetlejuice' at Redford Theatre

Kurt Anthony Krug
Special to The Detroit News

Shadowcasting the movie “Beetlejuice” is easily the most daring and difficult thing the Goblin King Players have ever done.

“When we decide on which film to shadowcast, we first look at what is beloved by fans the most. The Redford Theatre is massive and if we have any hope of filling it, we need to appeal to a wide audience. Then we consider our brand. We tend to do classic films from the 1980s and 1990s. Considering we knew we'd be performing in October, we felt ‘Beetlejuice’ would tick all the boxes,” said Kristina Lakey, of Flint, founder/owner of the Goblin King Players.

Beetlejuice Shadowcast

The “Beetlejuice” Shadowcast with the Goblin King Players is Friday and Saturday at the Redford. This is their fourth shadowcast at the Redford.

For the uninitiated, a shadowcast is when a movie is shown on the big screen with actors performing in real time along with it, changing costumes, sets and props in tandem with what’s happening on-screen.

“I had commonly seen this done with ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’… but I wanted to look at it through a new lens,” explained Lakey. “What if we used that idea but upped the budget, really worked on screen accuracy and made it as similar to the movie as we possibly could? I sat on this idea for months knowing I needed the right theater. One night at a screening of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’ I realized the Redford was it. I contacted them that evening, and we've now been working together for five years.”

“Beetlejuice” is a horror/comedy mash-up that opened in 1988 to critical praise and was a box office success, grossing approximately $74 million against its $15 million budget. It won the Oscar for Best Makeup. “Beetlejuice” was the first collaboration between director Tim Burton and actors Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder.

In “Beetlejuice,” the ghosts of recently-deceased couple Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) cannot leave their house. Subsequently, their house is sold to Charles Deetz (Jeffrey Jones), who moves in with his wife Delia (Catherine O’Hara) and rebellious goth daughter, Lydia (Ryder).

As much as the Maitlands haunt the Deetzes, they cannot frighten them enough to leave their house, which they plan to renovate. So they summon an uncouth yet powerful poltergeist named Beetlejuice (Keaton) to scare them off.

In the shadowcast, Anthony Monastra, who’s also the set designer, will portray Beetlejuice. Lakey will play Barbara, while her husband, Dan Gerics, will play Adam.

“Anthony was the perfect fit for Beetlejuice. He's done an excellent job with the material and has executed some incredible costuming feats as well,” said Lakey. “We create all the magic you see in the film on stage. So when the Maitlands go into the waiting room of the recently deceased, you'll see that. When the sandworms attack, you'll see that, too. Performing a movie in real time is a very difficult task, especially when there are fantastical elements. More than anything, our audiences seem to come back time and again because they're curious as to how we'll pull something off. In this case, we know the audience will be delighted.” 

Perhaps the most iconic scene in “Beetlejuice” is when the Maitlands possess the Deetzes and their guests, making them sing and dance to Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).” For the shadowcast, Monastra also choreographed the “Day-O” sequence, which Lakey called “incredible.”

“I really don't want to give too much away but the audience will be treated to exactly what they see on the movie screen. This has been a scene that we've hit hard in rehearsal because we know the audience will be waiting for it,” she said. “Typically, it takes a full year to execute any one of our shows. As you can imagine with so much detail, we need a lot of time to make things happen. We don't get to take liberties with things since we are aiming for screen accuracy, so it takes awhile to get it right.”

'Beetlejuice' Shadowcast with the Goblin Players

Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit

Times: 8 p.m. Friday; and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $20 and can be purchased either at the door or online at www.redfordtheatre.com.

COVID-19 protocols: Masks are required by all patrons, regardless of vaccination status inside the Redford. Masks can only be removed when eating or drinking inside the auditorium. Capacity shall be limited to 800.