Universal Studios Florida announced this past August that its long-running show, Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash Up, would be going “six feet under” later this year. The show has existed in some form since 1992 and features the classic monsters of Universal’s movie catalog. Upon learning that the show would be euthanized, devoted fans immediately took to the internet with their petitions to save it from certain death.
We understand how sentimentality can tug at the heartstrings. Sometimes an attraction is so good that even when it is outdated, its history and popularity actually give it a level of transcendence. Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash Up, however, is not one of those. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 reasons this show does, in fact, deserve to be axed.
5. The inclusion of monsters that aren’t monsters
It is odd enough that Beetlejuice is the primary host of a classic character cast. After all, there is “classic,” and then there is “cult classic” with cult classic not usually pulling rank. Blowing past that strange choice of casting, though, let’s discuss a more glaring one, i.e., some characters that aren’t even monsters.
Cleopatra, for example, is one of the performers. She entertains with Egyptian moves and rap skills. Yes, she is undeniably classic, but when did the Egyptian queen cross over into the horror genre? There is nothing about her that is supernatural. She may not even qualify as mysterious.
Cleopatra may be a head-scratcher in terms of selection, but then you have Phantasia who doesn’t even exist in any film at all. She is introduced to the audience as The Phantom’s daughter, but in Phantom of the Opera, the monster has no offspring. The only notion of Phantom ever having a daughter comes from the doll franchise, Monster High, and even then her name is Operetta. Phantasia doesn’t exist in movie history. Why is she in this show?
4. Incompatible styles that don’t mash up
We get the concept of a mash up. It’s an integration of separate and distinct genres into a single performance. The juxtaposition is entertaining and often humorous, but there are some combinations that simply aren’t meant to be.
When your dancers are a tad interpretive dance and your singers are clearly rock and roll, there is a problem. When your performers are supposed to be rapping, but it sounds more like story time at the library, there is a problem. When your characters should be classic, but instead they look like they jumped straight out of Hasbro’s Candy Land game, there is a problem. We’re just saying.
3. Inconsistent singing
As a singer there are a million things that have to come together for a good performance. You must have good breath control. The equipment has to be working. There needs to be awareness of the others performing with you, and (above all) you must have talent. We would like to suggest that one or more of these elements are missing from the Beetlejuice presentation.
While the performers can obviously hit high notes with ease, the actual skill of singing is a bit more “challenged” in this show. Maybe it was simply an off-night, but the show we watched consisted of lagging tempos, incongruous harmonies, and more than a few refrains that were plainly under pitch. It was genuinely uncomfortable at times. Something is dying here, and we think it should be put out of its misery.
2. Poor pop culture references
Good shows will have jokes in the script. However, if the show is long-running, the humor needs to be somewhat clever and perennial . Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash Up fails on both accounts by going for obvious, overused, and outdated pop culture references.
It isn’t really creative to have female characters perform “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” simply because they are females. The song isn’t specific enough in recalling their definitive storylines, and it falls flat. It also becomes monotonous to repeatedly hear jokes that target the Kardashians. Nearly every Universal show written in the last three years contains a Kardashian joke. At some point it stops being funny and starts being impotent.
Likewise, the moment has passed for some of the other scripted punchlines. For example, adding “What Does the Fox Say” to the set list feels out of touch, and referring to Robin Thicke’s VMA performance in 2013 is passé as well. Neither of these items in pop culture reached a level of notoriety that gives them perpetual comic value. They were relevant and funny two years ago, but these references have reached the end of their comedic lifespan. Consequently, this show has as well.
1. No storyline
Finally, and most importantly, Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash Up lacks a compelling storyline. There is a concept: Beetlejuice hosts an annual event. That is the entire structure for this show. There is no actual plot. There is no arising problem, climax, conflict resolution, or satisfying conclusion. Instead there are some monsters on stage for a time. They sing and dance, and then they leave. It is a lot of commotion without much substance…nothing in which to mentally invest. It feels void, and that is reflected in the theater seats (which are also void).
After sitting through a single showing this past week, it is very easy to see why Universal has decided Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash Up should be put down. Not only is it a good call but it also begs the question as to why this wasn’t done sooner. There is nothing about the presentation that seems relevant to today’s audience, and we feel it is clearly time that it “give up the ghost.”