This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



(photo © Jeremy Daniel)

AMERICAN PSYCHO will close after only eighty-one Broadway performances (photo © Jeremy Daniel)

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th St. between Broadway & Eighth Aves.
Through June 5, $69-$148

The musical version of Bret Easton Ellis’s popular but controversial 1991 novel, American Psycho, which was also made into a popular but controversial 2000 film, has posted an early closing notice on Broadway, ending its short run at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on June 5 after a mere eighty-one performances. So what went wrong with the show, a sold-out smash in London? The Broadway production looks great; the set, designed by the always innovative Es Devlin (Machinal, Chimerica), is often breathtaking and thrilling, with blinding whites everywhere, gorgeous minimalist furniture, and ultracool lighting by Justin Townsend (The Humans, The Other Place), pulsating with fast-moving projections by Finn Ross (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night). When a plexiglass front comes down, the stage turns into Dexter’s dream kill room, as New York City investment banker and ahead-of-his-time metrosexual Patrick Bateman (Benjamin Walker) uses a number of techniques to dispose of people standing in his way. But director Rupert Goold (King Charles III, Enron), Walker (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Based on a Totally True Story), and composer and lyricist Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) can’t quite decide whether American Psycho is a tongue-in-cheek satire of 1980s Wall Street, a black comedy about greed and desire, or a psychological exploration of obsession and violence. Much like Martin Scorsese’s overrated The Wolf of Wall Street, which also takes place during the Reagan era, American Psycho is filled with characters you either strongly dislike or just don’t care about, people you don’t want to spend even a few hours with on Broadway (including Alice Ripley as Mrs. Bateman, Drew Moerlein as Paul Owen, Theo Stockman as Timothy Price, and Heléne Yorke as Evelyn). Meanwhile, the music shifts between hits of the time by such bands as Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, the Human League, and New Order alternating with Sheik’s new songs (“Selling Out,” “Cards,” “I Am Back”) that don’t stand up in comparison. There were significant changes made for American audiences, including adding, deleting, and shifting around numbers, which might not have been the best idea. The show, which garnered a mere two Tony nods (Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design of a Musical) but a hefty eight nominations from both the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle, closes with an $8.8 million loss, something that would probably send Bateman looking for yet more people to take out his anger on.

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