Haven’t humans always been curious and voyeurs when it comes  to violence and serial killers on film? Humans are curious about psychopaths such as Jack the Ripper, Hannibal Lechter and Ted Bundy, who  continue to fascinate us in books, movies, TV and now a Broadway musical.

Women were in uproar when Brett Easton Ellis’s 3rd book, “American Psycho” a story about a self involved Wall Street investment banker, psychopath moonlighting as a serial killer, could only find happiness by dismembering women. It was very graphic, but, it was only a fictional story.

It took years for the hysteria to die down, but wouldn’t you know that Americans’ short attention span would welcome the Hollywood film version of “American Psycho” into their home less than a decade later? Who would have guessed that director Mary Harron’s highly-stylized set alongside an 80s soundtrack, and comically choreographed sequences would achieve cult status?

I never would have guessed that something as implausible as turning the 2000 film into a Broadway performance would transpire. Why would anyone be interested in watching a dancing and singing demon banker of Wall Street, whose only concern in life is his appearance? Then again, the success and longevity of Sweeney Todd, about a demon barber who hacks humans, and turns them into meat pies is testament to the inexplicable, unpredictable tastes of an audience.

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in the movie version of “American Psycho.” What is the best outfit to kill when you are a Wall Street banker? Sheer rain coat to keep the blood off your Valentino suit and an axe you can find at your local Home Depot. Photo from Lionsgate/The Kobal collection.

As soon as American Psycho went into Broadway preview, my BFF, Mini and I jumped at the opportunity to  witness what we hoped would be a horror fest melee with physically blessed cast, original 80s tunes interspersed with newly written  songs and clever writing.

The night before the show, we dressed up as the characters in the original movie–because why the hell not? What else do we have to do on a Friday night?  We briefly contemplated dressing up in character to the musical, but if I showed up with a bloody axe, NYPD would have arrested me in minutes. So instead, we put on our one-night only performance–with me–as Patrick Bateman, the protagonist–and Mini, as Patrick’s girlfriend, Evelyn, played by Reese Witherspoon in the 2000 movie version.

Wheelchair disabled woman dressed as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

Yup, that’s me dressed as Patrick Bateman in a guy’s suit. There was something quite empowering about dressing up in a suit. It felt like something was growing in between my legs, that I had to keep adjusting. I am incapable of looking scary with an axe. I passed off as a maniacal Lucille Ball. Look how a pretty face can morph into  a demonic, doughy apparition.

Woman dressed as Evelyn from American Psycho

My BFF, Mini, dressed as ‘Evelyn’, Patrick’s shallow girlfriend who is as consumed with her appearance as him. With all the recent media discussion about who should replace all the dead male presidents on our bills, take one last look at Benjamin, because he will be replaced by a dame.

The next afternoon, we entered the theater to a sold-out performance. Within minutes of the curtain rising, I dug my nails into Mini’s arm.

The set design conceived by Es Devlin, who has designed sets for opera stages, film, tv and celebrities such as Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Lenny Kravitz, is highly stylized. One scene resembles a wealthy 80s bachelor’s NYC pad, another is transformed into a nightclub, and even a serene afternoon sunning in the Hamptons. The electronic-style score by Duncan Sheik was cleverly composed of original songs making myriad references to NYC stomping grounds such as “The Tunnel” nightclub, spliced with original songs by Huey Lewes and the News and The Human League. But it was the presence of protagonist Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman, who outshone the entire cast. His not-of-this-planet psychical attributes and stage presence made my heart nearly explode.


Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman on Broadway in "American Psycho."

Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman.

Benjamin Walker in American Psycho on Broadway in VOGUE

Benjamin Walker in a publicity piece in Vogue Magazine. Photo by Steven Klein, 2016. I would love to have a photo of this in my wallet, pull it out on Mother’s Day and say to my mom “Look ma, this is my serial killer boyfriend. Isn’t he dreamy?” Remind me to do that.

We wondered how on earth some of the gory scenes in the original movie would be adapted for the Broadway stage without being too graphic. The set designers thoughtfully achieved this in the way of a transparent, plastic curtain/shield lowered onto the stage, Huey Lewis’s song “Hip to be Square” blaring in the background, while axe wielding Patrick Bateman dismembers his hapless victims. Blood splatter covered the  stage and shield. Damn! I wore my knee high patent leather boots for nothing. Our adrenalin pumped even faster when Benjamin ran up and down the aisle half naked, shooting fake $100 bills from his toy rifle into the ogling crowd. Mini immediately shot from her seat, darting into the aisle to grab a fistful of fake money souvenirs.

For 80s and fashion aficionados, this musical made so many references to a decade of unapologetic excess, it made me nostalgic. Take for example the lyrics in the song “You Are What You Wear”:

…Chanel, Gaultier, or Giorgio Armani

Moschino, Alaia, or Norma Kamali

Should I rock

The Betsey Johnson

Or stick with classic

Comme des Garçon

In a certain kind of neighborhood

You might get away with Vivian Westwood

But by von Furstenberg we swear

It’s a wrap

You are what you wear…

It is songs like this, performed in a reincarnated version of 80s nightclub, “The Tunnel”, and one which I frequented dancing into the wee hours alongside club kids,  left me nostalgic for the 80s. Clubs like those of yesteryear do not exist today.

Just like the movie, the musical depicted the superficiality, lust for wealth and one’s obsession to achieve perfection flawlessly. Brett Easton Ellis’s book was prescient in a few ways. One hilarious example is Patrick Bateman’s obsession with Donald Trump, the avatar of wealth and status in the 80s, who incites middle class, white, angry men to think that America can ever become ‘Great Again.’ Thank you Duncan Sheik for leaving all the Trump references, which made the audience chortle every time.

By the end of the show we were convinced that if people can applaud a singing and dancing serial killer banker on Broadway, this opens the door to produce other inconceivable musicals. How about producing a musical about the Ice Man? You know, the hitman from New Jersey, who killed at least 100 people for the Mob and has had 2 bios produced by HBO. Or maybe a singing and dancing Tony Soprano? The list is endless.

In the meantime, you will just have to take the plunge and witness what is Broadway’s newest, clever movie adaptation. I am not sure you will want to go out for a steak dinner afterward, but I promise, you won’t feel like buying an axe and clear raincoat.

American Psycho on Broadway fan

What should one wear to see this show? A pop of red and a bowler hat like the character ‘Alex’ in “Clockwork Orange”.