The New York Times called Mary Harron’s 2001 film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho “a mean and lean horror comedy classic.” The Broadway version—which opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on April 21—is a slightly less horrific, slightly more comedic, and much more entertaining satire on the materialism and soullessness of Wall Street in the ’80s. Here’s why you should see American Psycho The Musical on Broadway.
It highlights the superficiality of the ’80s.
The ‘80s, at least on Wall Street, were a time of excess, and American Psycho is here to highlight that decade’s over-the-top materialism. It opens with Patrick Bateman (yes, the name is borrowed from Hitchcock’s Psycho, here played by Benjamin Walker) describing his outfit in great detail: a suit by Alan Flusser, a tie by Valentino, shoes by a.testoni and underwear by Ralph Lauren. Bateman’s girlfriend Evelyn is also a material girl, who’s expressionless character only comes to life when name-droppings big labels like Chanel and Giorgio Armani in the song “You Are What You Wear.”
You’ll jam out to new wave hits.
The cast performs popular hits of the ’80s, including “Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News and “True Faith” by New Order—a 1987 chart-topper in the United States and United Kingdom. Many songs that made it into the musical were also in the film, and their lyrics expose the foolishness of the character’s obsession with conformity and consumer goods.
The choreography by Lynne Page is amazing.
Memorable scenes from the film are turned into incredibly choreographed dance numbers. In “Card,” Bateman and his colleagues compare business cards—from the texture of the paper to the color and font, their preoccupation with having the best business card is laughable but unnerving. The musical takes this scene to a new level: actors dance to a techno beat while balancing upside down on desks.
You’ll (almost) get splattered with fake blood.
Most visitors don’t expect to come away from a Broadway show spattered with blood, but that’s what would happen without the set’s silk screen curtain that protects the audience from the blood that spurts out when Bateman kills his victims on stage.
It’s just as thought-provoking as the novel and film.
Throughout the show, it’s unclear whether Bateman is a killer, or if it’s all in his imagination. Like with the book and the film, you’ll leave wondering if Bateman’s violent outbursts are merely repressed fantasies brought on by the superficiality of the consumerist society of the time.