Broadway is about to get its biggest blood bath ever, courtesy of a new musical in development, based on Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. The show will revolve around the arch and emotionless Patrick Bateman (played to perfection in director Mary Harron's 2000 big-screen adaptation of the novel by Christian Bale), a Wall Street Turk who, by night, leads a double life as a sadistic misogynist killing machine.
At first glance, this may seem like an odd (or very bad) marriage of material to medium. But the producers made an intriguing case for the precedent of dropping song-and-dance numbers into deep depravity by invoking Malcolm McDowell's "Singin' in the Rain" sequence in "A Clockwork Orange." Then, of course, there's the Great White Way's classic gore-fest, "Sweeney Todd," which is arguably even more twisted than American Psycho, considering that the demon barber's butchering of innocents is only a prelude to the human pies he baked from their remains. Hey, if cannibalism (albeit unintentional) can translate to musical theater, why not serial killing?
Producers David Johnson, Jesse Singer, Nate Bolotin, and Aaron Ray have been developing Ellis' 1991 novel for the past two years, and recently hired Duncan Sheik to compose the show's musical numbers. Sheik, a hipster singer-songwriter who moonlights as a Broadway composer (he won two Tonys and one Grammy for his work on the equally dark and subversive "Spring Awakening"), is bound to ratchet up the hype factor as well as expectations that the show will deliver a contemporary sonic experience to match the narrative's obsidian-black comedy (adapted by comic author-cum-playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa).
With this vanguard of talent, "American Psycho" stands a good shot at sparking stampedes of curious theatergoers from the moment it makes it into previews. And if it does become a hit, we relish the idea of the tour bus crowds piling into a show whose protagonist would have loved nothing more than to massacre every last one of them.