Photo: Danny Alexander.
Book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
Music and Lyrics by Duncan Sheik
Based on the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Directed by Charlie Meredith
Musical Direction by Jessica Bullock & Chris Harbeson
Choreography by Zachary Boone & Paul McElroy
A review by Jason Roseberry
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Jason Roseberry. All rights reserved.
Acting Against Cancer identifies itself as “a nonprofit semiprofessional theatre company that strives to change the lives of children touched by cancer through the arts.” Within the Kentuckiana theatre scene, they have also developed a reputation as an ambitious theatre company most likely to perform modern musicals often labeled as “counter-culture” or “edgy.” Their current production of Duncan Sheik’s American Psycho is absolutely the type of show we have come to expect from this talented group.
American Psycho is based on the book by Bret Easton Ellis and heavily influenced by the 2000 movie starring Christian Bale. The musical follows Patrick Bateman – an investment banker on Wall Street in the late 1980’s who focuses a great deal of energy attempting to fit in, and, ultimately, excel in the narcissistic and unfeeling society around him. Patrick Bateman relieves his frustrations (and gets his thrills) by moonlighting as a serial killer in the evenings. When he loses a chance at an important account his world is knocked off of its axis, and the show follows his attempts to “right the ship” in this cold and unfeeling society.
The American Psycho cast is talented and beautiful, which is fortunate since they are all on stage most of the show wearing very tight or minimal amounts of clothing. The cast is most impressive when performing the excellent choreography by Zachary Boone & Paul McElroy. Remy Sisk is “dead on” as Patrick Bateman, and there is also notable character work by Justin White (Luis), Shelby Brown (Courtney), Hannah Lechleiter (Evelyn Williams), and Natalie Minton (Jean).
The use of staging and technical elements within Art Sanctuary was quite effective. While there were some issues with hearing the actors from time to time, the industrial-type space worked great for this show, and the projection design (Meredith) and lighting design (AlFord) helped tie the show together with a consistent and energizing vision.
Having never read the book or seen the movie, I went into American Psycho expecting a smart, sexy, and shocking production. Those elements are certainly present, but the goal of the show itself seems to be to make the audience see the world through the eyes of Patrick Bateman – cold, unfeeling, and numb. By the end, we are watching half-naked bodies splattered with blood fall to the ground and it elicits no emotion since they all blend together into one wealthy and hard-bodied mass.
I did find myself wishing the writers had found a way to make us more invested in Bateman’s fate (a la Netflix’s You), but, ultimately, the show is about capturing the consumerist, materialist, and superficial feeling of the late ’80s in New York City. Charlie Meredith warns the audience from the beginning of the show with his astute director’s note, stating, “Let the show be what it is: a seductive spectacle that lures you with its flashing lights, pretty colors, and recognizable brands into a rabbit hole of detachment.” Through this lens, the show works quite well and AAC achieves what they set out to accomplish with this production.
It is worth noting that AAC’s American Psycho press release comes with a warning that it contains graphic depictions of violence, murder, and bloodshed, including violence against women and is not recommended for those under 16.
January 17-25, 2020
Tickets are $22 in advance (website) and $24 at the door.
Acting Against Cancer
1433 S. Shelby. St.
Louisville, KY 40217
Dr. Jason Roseberry is the Artistic Director of TheatreWorks of Southern Indiana, an alumnus of the Actors Theatre of Louisville Acting Apprentice program, and a past director at Silver Creek High School. Jason is also a playwright and lyricist. Some of his produced plays and musicals include: “Burke and Hare”, and “E.A. Poe, Into the Mind of Madness” both at (Edinburgh, Scotland Fringe Festival),” The Red Room” Off-Broadway, Louisville Repertory Company, (Humana Festival/Heideman Award Finalist), “The Invisible Man” (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), “Finders Keepers” (OOB-Expanded Arts, Kitchen Sink Festival Winner), “Freshman Year” (Ball State University), and “Romeo & Rosaline” (SCHS, Indiana Thespian Festival). Jason is currently the Chief Innovation Officer for Five-Star Technology Solutions, an educational technology company.