Wednesday, April 27, 2016

American Psycho Thrilled Me!

2016 is the year of the revolution. Not just in politics, but on Broadway as well. The creative team at the Richard Rodgers Theatre are not the only ones completely changing the way we view theater. Add the folks behind the musical American Psycho to that list! One of the most stimulating, immersive,  game-changing experiences I've ever had on Broadway. Bringing a story about a murderer to Broadway (unlike Sweeney Todd this isn't about revenge) that is shallow, greedy, full of ego, Trump-loving, materialistic, non-redeemable is a hard pill for many audiences to swallow. I swallowed and want more! 

It starts the moment you walk in and see the set design by Es Devlin. It continues once the musical opens with a bang and we are pulled in by the video design by Finn Ross, lighting design by Justin Townsend, and sound design by Dan Moses Schreier. The most exciting use of technical elements I've seen in a long time. And it all works perfectly for this piece.

Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis and the film of the same name, the musical (with a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa) pays homage to both of those yet takes a journey of it's own. I was with people that saw the film as well as some that hadn't and we all enjoyed it just the same. 

I need to stop and praise Duncan Sheik for his unique score that sounds like nothing else on Broadway. Where some reviewers complain it's not a score worthy of the Broadway stage - they are simply wrong. Every song, sound, lyrics takes you back to the 80s where the musical is set and makes perfect sense for this show. I can't imagine anyone else haven set this to music. (Yes, count me as one of the cool kids, Mr. Sheik as I get you even if NYT doesn't.)

Rupert Gould wowed me with his direction of King Charles III and now I have to see he's one of the most inventive directors working today. His direction is clean, crisp, and nails the people of this time and place perfectly. Lynne Page uses choreography in a way that shows us the 80s without poking too much fun at it, creating an entirely new 'voice' of movement. 

I can usually gage a show by how long I stay up at night after seeing a show. I couldn't get to sleep last night. I even downloaded some of the songs from the UK Recording of the show that just came out last month. The show sticks with you and doesn't let go.

Honestly, I think I would give the Tony award to Benjamin Walker right now. Playing an 
anti-hero is not an easy thing to do, especially when the character of Patrick Bateman hardly ever leaves the stage. Yet he plays the callous Wall-Streeter with humor and yes...the writers have given him somewhat of an arc that wasn't present in the film that you can't help but like him. You shouldn't. He's evil. He's a jerk. (They even left much of the language from the book intact such as using the F-word for gay men which is necessary for this character.) But Walker is brilliant in the role. Forget the fact that he is stunning running around in his tighty-whities on stage. His singing voice, his delivery - everything is an award-winning performance...yes, even in 'this' season.

The entire cast is wonderful, but a few others stand out to me because of how they capture the essence of the late 80s when I moved to NYC. HelĂ©ne York as the girlfriend Evelyn has the vapidness of the rich girl down pat. Theo Stockman is channeling James Spader as the man in the office you love to hate...and I couldn't get enough of him. Drew Moerlein plays the nemesis of Bateman and captures that Corporate America (where I spent 13 years) mentality perfectly.

A shout out to the small pit who took me to my club days, the vocal arranger for some sweet arrangements, and the sound mixer as I was in the front row of the mezz and NEVER heard the drummer sitting in the box to my left except via the sound system.

I get this musical will not be for everyone, but if you want something completely different from anything else running on Broadway (and you can't get a ticket to that other earth-shattering musical) - do yourself a favor and get to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.