Meet the Deetzes: Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser on Bringing Beetlejuice to Broadway

Broadway News   Meet the Deetzes: Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser on Bringing Beetlejuice to Broadway
The stage favorites discuss working with the ghost with the most, crafting their characters, and their comedy symbiosis.
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Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade at the Strand

He’s already haunted D.C., but the ghoulish fun is just beginning. After a world-premiere engagement at the National Theatre, the musical adaptation of Beetlejuice is poised to take center stage at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre.

Among the previously announced principals reprising their performances are stage veterans Adam Dannheisser and Leslie Kritzer. They take on the roles of Charles and Delia Deetz—father and stepmother to Lydia and the new owners of the late Maitlands’ home. Ever since the D.C. run ended in November last year, the pair continues to find inspiration—new jokes, new humanity—from each other and the show’s creators.

Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser Matthew Murphy

“We’re learning how we’re a real twosome, and that’s been exciting,” explains Kritzer. “The stronger we are together, the more we make an impression.” She likens the pairing to one featuring the original movie’s Delia: “It reminds me of Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara [in Best in Show]. Those two people together are gold, and we have that dynamic together.”

Dannheisser notes that their level of offstage friendship isn’t the norm, but it’s only aided in their onstage rapport. Their time in D.C., shared commutes, and even life at home (they live minutes away from each other in New Jersey) offers a bank of experiences to draw from while mining quirks, laughs, and more.

It seems book writers Scott Brown and Anthony King have picked up on it, too. Before Broadway rehearsals officially start February 14, the cast has participated in a number of work sessions to explore new material and fine-tune certain beats. In that time, certain moments have been tailored specifically for the performers’ aesthetic and sense of humor.

“They hear our voices now instead of the idea of these characters they started creating eight years ago,” Dannheisser explains. “They write a line, and it comes out of your mouth perfectly because they hear it in their ears with you.”

Over the course of readings, lab presentations, the D.C. premiere, and subsequent work sessions, the two found new colors to the Deetzes. Dannheisser has helped shape the evolution of Charles from a bombastic womanizer to a father coping with loss; meanwhile, Kritzer mines vibes from the likes of Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, and one of her former roles: Pickles of The Great American Trailer Park Musical.

Alex Brightman and Sophia Anne Caruso Matthew Murphy

One person she’s trying not to channel as much?

“I can’t even touch what Catherine O’Hara—the queen, the goddess—does. My version of Delia is a bit different, more daffy.” Kritzer plans to catch up on the O’Hara-led Schitt’s Creek during her downtime in tech, in the hopes that the screen Delia might come see the stage Delia.

“I’m actually so excited if she comes to this. I have a feeling she’s going to. I’m probably going to cry.”

Dannheisser and Kritzer will star alongside Alex Brightman in the title role, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lydia, Kerry Butler as Barbara, and Rob McClure as Adam.

Newly confirmed to join them are Jill Abramovitz as Maxine Dean and Juno, Kelvin Moon Loh as Otho, Danny Rutigliano as Maxie Dean, and Dana Steingold as the Girl Scout. Rounding out the company are Tessa Alves, Gilbert L. Bailey II, Will Blum, Johnny Brantley III, Ryan Breslin, Natalie Charle Ellis, Brooke Engen, Abe Goldfarb, Eric Anthony Johnson, Elliott Mattox, Mateo Melendez, Sean Montgomery, Ramone Owens, Presley Ryan, and Kim Sava.

The Warner Bros. musical, featuring a score by Eddie Perfect, will begin previews March 28 ahead of an April 25 opening.

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Sophia Anne Caruso, Alex Brightman, Leslie Kritzer, Kerry Butler, Kevin Moon Loh, Adam Dannheisser, and Rob McClure Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade at the Strand
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