American Psycho, the Musical Review - Entertaining, Mesmerizing and Beautifully designed

This was the 'weekend that was.'  I saw TWO, yes TWO shows with the title American........

One was An American in Paris, which I will review in this column, shortly.  The other was American Psycho, the musical.  One lovely song, dance, love, ballet, 1951 remake of An American in Paris, with Gene Kelly.  The other, well, let's get on to the review. 

I was, indeed, prepared to see American Psycho.  I had seen the movie starring the ever-so talented,  yet off-centered Christian Bale.  I saw the movie twice, actually, and couldn't figure out how it could be made into a musical.  Ok,  Titanic was a tragedy-turned-musical and maybe Carrie but how the heck would a Wall Street serial killer in the decade of luxury and overabundance of the 80's  not only become likeable, but get the audience to feel empathy?

Andrew Walker - Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

I stayed up prior to seeing American Psycho trying to figure out how this was going to work.  Then, there I was, sitting in the 2nd row smack in the front of a perfectly placed plastic screen, which, at some point, quite shortly after I was seated, was going to be filled with (fake) blood.

The Cast of American Psycho - Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Let me say, I was mesmerized from the very first scene.  I will clarify. Benjamin Walker (Patrick Bateman), , although not the 'creepy' Christian Bale character in the movie of the same name, was perfect as the totally narcissistic, flawlessly groomed, perfectly built Wall Streeter with not an inch of fat anywhere on his body.  It takes more than guts to put your body 'out there' for most of the show when only wearing underwear, and not the boxer-kind but the $60 a pair Ralph Lauren kind.

The Cast of American Psycho - Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Patrick Bateman is the example of the extravagant 80's and the Wall Street glitz and glitter excess where money flows like water but you still need to 'know people' to get into the best restaurant in town.  One wonders, would you kill a good friend just to get a reservation?   It's something to think about.

Every article of clothing that the cast wears has a famous label­-name.  Walker's co-workers and friends are perfect (it seems) and his work environment sterile and monochromatic, except for the bright red accessories that dot each scene.  This is the 80's so having 'picture-on-picture on your 30" TV  is quite the big deal.

The Cast of American Psycho - Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Now, the blood.  There's lots and lots of it. It's built into the costumes, the furniture, the walls, the bodies and just about everywhere on the stage.  After awhile, I was so used to it, I just placed it as a permanent part of the scenery.   And from where I sat, it was difficult to distinguish between the real red stuff and whatever they use to make it look like the real red stuff.  Walker has no problem covering himself with the real or fake stuff, but, from where I sat, you couldn't convince me either way.  If I were any closer I would have been able to hand him a hankie to wipe his sweated brow.

The Cast of American Psycho - Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Most of the play is done is black, white, grey and red.  The choreography by Lynne Page is beyond attention-grabbing; it's an experience.  My birds eye view looked for any misstep, mistake, mishap, and there was none.  Each actor has a very specific role and when blended together, you felt you were in a well-dressed zombie den.  I know, it sounds like a version of The Walking Dead, and it may just well be, except everyone is gorgeous, thin and very much alive.

Kudos to costume designer Katrina Lindsay.  The one-of-kind costumes were, shall I say 'fabulous'!

Tony-nominated choreographer Lynne Page (La Cage Aux Folles) and three-time Olivier Award-winning scenic designer Es Devlin (tours for Adele, Beyonce, U2, Kanye West), may easily make American Psycho the sexiest show in New York.

The Cast of American Psycho - Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

I can honestly say that I have never seen a show with so much creativity in its' presence and form.  In a world where magazine pictures and posed shots are always touched up, I can tell you, from row 2, there was so much perfection that I could have been convinced that some of the actors were mannequins. Seriously, why even 'try' to diet when there are actual humans in our world who look like this entire cast. 

 

Ok, they all wore body suits;  that was due to the fact that all the clothing wrapping up their bodies had the (fake) blood on it, so perfectly splattered.  In fact, blood was perfectly splattered throughout the scenery;  yet, in one moment, the stage is  bright red and white; then, in seconds, it's sterile again.  I must also mention the (simulated) sex scenes.  Trying to avoid being graphic, the music, strobe lights and the like, managed to blur the lines.  Huey Lewis music toned down a lot of the (graphic) sex scenes.

 

Oh yes, the story line.  It's based on a cult classic 1991 controversial book by Bret Easton Ellis’  and the cult classic movie of the same name  so if you are reading this you probably already know the plotline.  Is Bateman crazy?  That's a big YES for sure.  Is he an ax, machine gun, knife-wielding mass murderer?  It certainly makes a good case for it.  But, more importantly, will you care?  Probably not.  It won't be the plot that grabs you, but just about every other thing about this presentation will.  If you are wondering whether you are the 'right age' or 'too old' to see this, I can tell you that in 1985 my daughters were old enough to see it. So there!

Just a note here: As you probably figured out, leave the kids home.

This first-class cast, includes Tony Award® winner ALICE RIPLEY (Next to Normal), HELÉNE YORKE (Bullets Over Broadway), Tony nominee JENNIFER DAMIANO (Next to Normal), and DREW MOERLEIN in his Broadway debut.  Featuring a score by DUNCAN SHEIK, the Tony and Grammy Award®-winning composer of Spring Awakening, and reinvented for the stage by Olivier Award-winning director RUPERT GOOLD (King Charles III), writer ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA (“Glee”)

 

For more information, visit: Americanpspychothemusical website

Venue: Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York  - This is an open-ended production
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Helene Yorke, Jennifer Damiano, Drew Moerlein, Alice Ripley, Krystina Alabado, Dave Thomas Brown, Jordan Dean, Anna Eilinsfeld, Jason Hite, Ericka Hunter, Holly James, Keith Randolph Smith, Theo Stockman, Alex Michael Stoll, Morgan Weed
Director: Rupert Goold
Book: Robert Aguirre-Sacasa, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
Music & lyrics: Duncan Sheik
Set designer: Es Devlin
Costume designer: Katrina Lindsay
Lighting designer: Justin Townsend
Sound designer: Dan Moses Schreier
Video designer: Finn Ross
Music director: Jason Hart
Orchestrations: Duncan Sheik
Music supervisor & vocal arranger: David Shrubsole
Choreographer: Lynne Page
Executive producers: Foresight Theatrical, Allan Williams
Produced by Almeida Theatre, Headlong
Presented by David Johnson and Jesse Singer for Act 4 Entertainment, Jeffrey Richards, Will Trice, Rebecca Gold, Greenleaf Productions, John Frost/Clip Service, Trevor Fetter, Joanna Carson, Gordon Meli Partners, Nora Ariffin, Jam Theatricals, Almeida Theatre, Center Theatre Group, R&D Theatricals, Paula & Stephen Reynolds, The Shubert Organization, in cooperation with Edward R. Pressman

 

 

 

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