SHOWBITUARY: "American Psycho"
- OnStage New York Columnist
Our next 2015-16 season casualty is, “American Psycho.”
"Psycho", when your transfer from London was announced, my usually very decisive gut instinct was rendered ambivalent. Despite the cult following of your source material, both the book and film versions, and the respectable success of this production in the West End, your viability on Broadway always seemed questionable to me.
In the tradition of highly-stylized British theatre, the probability of your success lay somewhere between the rollicking triumph of, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” and the shocking failure of Lucy Prebble’s, “Enron.” And though you came bearing what appeared to be some stunning technical aspects, it seems the horror element fell short and your show never quite found the crucial balance between high-brow camp and drama.
In terms of your critical reception, the overall feeling was strictly mixed, leaning toward no particular pole. Most applauded the slick presentation and visual exploration of Ellis’ themes of greed and excess in the Reagan era. They lauded both the technical achievements and fabulous retro choreography. Ben Walker’s Patrick Bateman was well-liked, yet the puzzling misuse of both Jen Damiano and Alice Ripley was never fully rectified.
Ben Brantley wrote one of those rambling, seemingly endless reviews about you where he dances around his own opinion in favor of hearing himself talk, makes you think he liked it for a second, and then tacks on a finishing sentence indicating that you ultimately weren’t that great. Contrarily, Entertainment Weekly described you as, “perversely enjoyable” and enjoyed Duncan Sheik’s clever, surprisingly catchy, electro-pop score.
So, what went wrong? Maybe you did bungle the horror of a horror musical. Maybe you just got lost in the season. Maybe in the post-American Horror Story landscape, we must work harder for scares than ever. Or, maybe, this production was more invested in communicating Ellis’s disdain for 80′s excess and the madness bubbling just below the surface of materialism than delivering them.
Looking at the footage (I did not get to see this and I’m sorta pissed about that) and taking into account The Hollywood Reporter’s recounting of audience members cheering for various gory movie moment replicas and weapons, I think overall you may just be better suited to off-Broadway than on. Had you dialed up the black humor, dumped a few more buckets of stage blood, and moved a few blocks south, this could've give the downtown crowd (y’know, the people who read Bret Easton Ellis novels) a murderous nostalgia-fest they can root for.
For now, you and Benjamin Walker’s abs will depart the Great White Way. And though differences of opinion concerning your fate are sure to abound, it is universally agreed that we all lose there.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I simply must go return some videotapes.
At the time of closing, "American Psycho" played 27 previews and 54 regular performances. It received two 2016 Tony Award nominations for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design, as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle nominations in various categories.
This production is survived by: Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman. Alice Ripley as Patrick’s Mother/Mrs. Wolfe; Heléne Yorke as Evelyn Williams, Patrick’s girlfriend; Tony Award nominee Jennifer Damiano as Jean, Patrick’s secretary; Drew Moerlein as Paul Owen; Krystina Alabado as Vandan; Dave Thomas Brown as David van Patten; Jordan Dean as Luis Carruthers; Anna Eilinsfeld as Victoria; Jason Hite as Sean Bateman; Ericka Hunter as Sabrina; Holly James (seen in American Psycho's London cast) as Christine; Keith Randolph Smith as Detective Kimball; Alex Michael Stoll as Craig McDermott; and Morgan Weed as Courtney Lawrence. Also featured in the company are Sydney Morton, Anthony Sagaria and Neka Zang. Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)Produced by David Johnson, Jesse Singer, Act 4 Entertainment, Jeffrey Richards, Will Trice, Greenleaf Productions, Rebecca Gold,John Frost, Trevor Fetter, Joanna Carson, Gordon Meli Partners, Clip Service/A.C. Orange International, Nora Ariffin, Jam Theatricals, The Almeida Theatre Company, Center Theatre Group (Michael Ritchie, Artistic Director; Stephen D. Rountree, Managing Director; Douglas C. Baker, Producing Director), Paula & Stephen Reynolds, J. Todd Harris and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President); Produced in cooperation with Edward R. Pressman; Associate Producer:Carlos Arana, Jimmy & Sara Hendricks Batcheller, CTM Productions, Stella La Rue, Lucy Lee, Jamie deRoy/Terry Schnuck, Nate Bolotin and James Forbes SheehanOriginally produced by The Almeida Theatre Company and Headlong TheatreBook by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; Music by Duncan Sheik; Lyrics by Duncan Sheik; Based on the Novel by Bret Easton Ellis; Orchestrator: Duncan Sheik; Vocal arrangements by David Shrubsole; Musical Director: Jason Hart; Associate Musical Dir.: Charlie RosenDirected by Rupert Goold; Choreographed by Lynne Page; Associate Director: Whitney Mosery; Associate Choreographer: Rebecca Howell Scenic Design by Es Devlin; Costume Design by Katrina Lindsay; Lighting Design by Justin Townsend; Sound Design by Dan Moses Schreier; Video Design by Finn Ross; Hairs, Wigs & Make-up: Campbell Young Associates; Associate Scenic Design: Jason Ardizzone-West; Associate Costume Design: Tricia Barsamian; Associate Lighting Design: Joel Shier; Associate Sound Design: Joshua Reid; Associate Video Design & Animator: Austin Switser Executive Producer: Foresight Theatrical and Allan Williams; General Manager: Foresight Theatrical; Company Manager: Daniel Hoyos Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatrical Associates; Production Manager: Hudson Theatrical Associates; Production Stage Manager: Arthur Gaffin; Stage Manager: Lee MicklinMusical Supervisor: David Shrubsole; Musical Coordinator: John Miller; Conducted by Jason Hart; Keyboard & Guitar II: Charlie Rosen; Acoustic & Electric Guitars: Thad DeBrock; Drums: Marques WallsSpecial Effects Consultant: Jeremy Chernick Casting: Telsey + Company and Craig Burns, CSA; Press Representative: Jeffrey Richards Associates; Marketing: Type A Marketing; Digital Marketing: Situation Interactive; Advertising: AKA; Photographer: Jeremy Daniel; Dance Captain: Holly James