Photo by Don Kellogg

Monday, March 28, 2016

American Psycho

In the rehearsal room this show must come off like a a giant snooze fest with little entertainment value.  The fact that is is even on Broadway is a testament to the people who sold this show to the producers.  They must have had an incredible story-board presentation.  However, on the stage, with amplified contemporary music (Duncan Sheik), booming sound effects (Dan Moses Schreier), colorful rock concert-like lighting (Justin Townsend), dazzling video projections (Finn Ross), and sleek sets and special effects (Es Devlin), the actors with these tools on their side bring the awkward subject matter to life.

Dripping with pure sexual energy and a hefty amount of talent, to back up their good looks, the cast of handsome and upper-crust 80's characters manages to salvage what is otherwise an awkward horror movie on the stage.   At the helm and top of the bill is the incredibly chiseled and flat out gorgeous Benjamin Walker (Patrick Bateman).  His vocal prowess is second to none and his sultry cut body is simply perfect.  I can say this because he is on stage in just his underwear more than he is on it clothed.  And yes, it didn't bother me one bit.... not one.   His Wall Street firm-mates are also oft shirtless too.  It's the 80's in NYC at the height of hedonism, after all.  Jennifer Damiano (Jean), a powerhouse in her own right, had to dumb it down for her mousy, shy, and good-girl secretary role, but she nonetheless impressed.   Patrick's mother, Mrs. Bateman, played by the indomitable Alice Ripley, proved there are really no small roles.  I frankly didn't know it was her until well into act one when she finally took off her big sunglasses (the 80's, remember?).

What haunted me throughout this very innovative and ironically enjoyable if not awkward production was the feeling that the least impressive element was the adapted book itself (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa).  The show felt like it was built around the special effects and Mr. Bateman himself.  It seemed like the book was merely a vehicle to deliver the movie's Cliff notes.  It felt like Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa simply strung 12+ scenes together with homage to the movie but without the ability to do it justice due to the limitations of the stage.  In the end, there was not enough to scare you, not enough to keep you guessing, and not enough to explain the abrupt and confusing ending even if you are listening to the lyrics.  The show's packaging and bold performance style (it was more like a rock concert story) keeps you in your seat and the regular insertion of popular 80's music sung by the pitch-perfect cast kept your toes tapping and eyes rolling throughout.  Between those toes tapping and the drool on your shoes continually flowing due to the uber-sexy cast, you just might enjoy the journey this show takes you on even if it seems out of place on Broadway.

Note:  Cast Photos resemble the Broadway production, but are from the London Production