Though scenic designer David Korins has been Tony-nominated for his designs twice before (Hamilton, War Paint), his design for this season’s Beetlejuice is next level—even he thinks so. “It was for sure the most complicated design I’ve ever done by a lot,” he says in the video above.
Korins began working with Beetlejuice director Alex Timbers five years ago, the longest lead time Timbers has ever had with a designer because the set is so integral to the story of the demon come back from the Netherworld and the young girl obsessed with death.
“The set design is a lot dictated by what the show needs from it,” Korins says. “At the centerpiece of the design is a whole house and we get to see it change four complete times—which in and of itself is insane—and then there's all these other locations where the play takes the action.”
When the curtain comes up, the house belongs to Adam and Barbara Maitland—a straight-laced couple drowning in the old-lady regalia of their flower-covered home. When the Deetzes take over, the house gets a slick makeover, the new décor a modern art-deco theme. But then Beetlejuice seizes control and things go hauntingly haywire.
Korins’ design draws heavily from “Tim Burton’s ouvre,” the filmmaker behind the original 1980s film. “There are so many little Easter eggs and nods to Tim Burton’s overall visual vocabulary. There are things from Edward Scissorhands, there are things from Nightmare Before Christmas, there are things from Coraline. Textures, objects, Jack Skellington’s bow tie makes up the third house version’s chandelier.”
Yet, the details and stagecraft never distract. Korins' choices, from color palette to technology, enhance the wacky realm conjured at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre. And that makes it worth the trip.