THE VICTORIA THEATRE IS DRIPPING BUCKETS OF BLOOD AND THE REAGAN ERA HAS NEVER BEEN AS COOL
AS IN “AMERICAN PSYCHO”
The impossible Friday night reservation at Dorsia, a hip New York diner, becomes the best reason to find a seat for AMERICAN PSYCHO. The Antihero of 1980’s Wall Street Patrick Bateman is now in Ray of Lights outlandish excellent axe wheeling bloodbath through June 8th at the Victoria Theatre. AMERICAN PSYCHO is the musical adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel about Patrick Bateman, an off center investment baker. The musical by Duncan Sheik and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa that received mixed reviews on Broadway struggled at the box office, with only 81 performances. But the wild and progressive ROL stages this sleek psycho love blood fest with all the glam and high-octane that this company is known for. “With AMERICAN PSYCHO we have the chance to look our worst fears in the eye - when style completely eclipses substance” says ROL.
As video designer Erik Scanlon’s dazzling video images of Reagan and 80’s pop fill Angrette McCloskey’s stark gray white set, we meet ax-wielding, tall, handsome antihero, Patrick Bateman. The tall slender Kipp Glass who off stage is true businessman, plays Bateman. Glass enters fast and creepy in the number “Morning Routine”. Later he bullies his crew of handsome boys when he shows off his new business card as he is shot down by Paul Owen who shows the men a better card. Owen is also played by another tall, handsome local favorite Kyle Ewalt who battles with Bateman for alpha dog rights. The song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” sets the tone to the blood bath to follow. Did Bateman a mild-mannered Wall Street douchebag by day, and blood-thirsty serial killer by night actually slice that homeless guy in one of the opening numbers? Accomplished choreographer, Leslie Waggoner, brings a Robert Palmer “Simply Irresistible” feeling to opening numbers as Duncan Sheik pounding high tech score brings blistering beats to the Victoria stage.
The era is the Reagan world of 1980’s New York wealth, investment banks, high tech clubs and restaurants. The Tom Wolfe business from "Bonfire of the Vanities" Pierce & Pierce is the company in question. Designer clothes and his clean work out are at the head of his table. Glass sings “Not A Common Man” boasting about his need for wealth, sex and soon murder. Ralph Lauren tighty-whities are one of the main costumes for Glass as he shows off his gym body in most of his numbers and for the random blood bath splashes. Duncan Sheik’s lyrics foreshadows “You Are What You Wear” number as he mentions popular brands. His 15 songs are mod, the synth is set to ten and the drum machine is an earworm. The satirical tone in “You Are What You Wear,” a number for the smart women that takes Madonna’s “Vogue,” for a real test.
Patrick’s girlfriend, Evelyn, played by the ideal Danielle Altizio and her sassy sidekick, Courtney, played by a bubble-headed Kristin Louie are both entertaining. Less amusing are Patrick’s secretary, Jean, played by the innocent Zoey Lytle, hopelessly in love with him. Bateman’s mother played by the superb Anna L Joham, of course, a sidebar subtext; not everyone needs to be taken apart. These two sincere characters can be out of place in this black satire. The blaring soundtrack and music under the direction of the award winning Ben Prince is pounding as it pumps out 80’s beats including some pop hits “Its Hip to be Square.”
Director Jason Hoover has cast a great looking ensemble to meet Bateman’s ax, knives, guns and anything that will kill. Hoover colors the busy cast like a fitness course of tiddy whities and six pack bodies. Waggoner’s choreography brings that Tunnel club beat to a mix of Fossie, vogue, and sleek jazz pop moves. The black and white mix of eye candy costumes by the fab Katie Dowse bring a camp perfection to the women, and mad man black tie to the men. Props by the accomplished Peet Cocke include the many killing weapons including the axe, guns, knifes and a wonderful birthday cake that is mauled by Batemans rage. Stage manager Lori Fowler and crew Connie Carranza and Kaitln Tom keep the sleek cast on cue and the 80's set pieces moving on and off with ease.
Bateman is just in his tiny white briefs for many of his killings and solos. His madness jumps out at you in the song “Killing Spree”. Lighting designer Weili Shi's white brightness sparked with blood red lighting is chilling at times, but she also sets the mad man tone in Batmen’s insane apartment. Music director Prince pumps Sheik's a disco score and he has a spellbinding ensemble of Bay Area favorites who sing excellent. The featured cast includes: Danielle Altizio as Evelyn, Joshua Beld as the in-the-closet Luis, Julio Chavez as Tom Cruise and McDermont. The handsome talented Matt Skinner as the smart Tim Price. Desiree Juanes's Victoria, Madeline Lambie's Christine and Kirstin Louie as Courtney, Jill Jacobs, Melinda Campero, Clint Calimlim, Spenser Morris are dynamite as they hold up the chorus of death and carnage.
The two hour, two act romp is a visual passion and the ROL craft team has out done themselves backed by the brilliant Eric Scanlon’s projections. The sound is striking under the direction of Jerald Girard and his skilled engineer Anton Hedman; a flawless team that blows the 80’s out across Mission street. What works is listening to the fresh dialog and many 80's topic references including Tom Cruise who lives in Bateman's building and the musical Le Miz makes the song list. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, “Don’t You Want Me” and the “Back to the Future” Huey Lewis and the News’ hit closes the first act. The show is a perfect fit for the haunted Victoria theatre and the Mission street ghosts I am sure are pleased with the carnage.
The second act introduces two new characters; the smart ass detective Kimball played by the dapper Tim Beagley and Bateman’s controlling mother played by Anna L Joham. "Even if this story is overwrought and gory, it's not a fable, it's not an allegory, no cautionary tale, no memento mori" as Bateman sings still alive at story’s end. This eye popping dark musical is a perfect fit for Ray of Lights 2019 season opener.
It is a MUST SEE and Bateman’s Reagan era saga will take you to a new version of Hamlet's madness and Macbeth's gore. Next up at ROL is the Bay Area regional premiere of CAROLINE OR CHANGE Tony Kushner’s only musical about his boyhood maid opens Sept 13th. ROCKY HORROR is back Oct 23rd, but in the meantime bring some white out to wash the blood that could splat at you. Narcissistic anti-hero Mr Bateman is running the Mission district only through June 8th.
Ray of Light Theatre Presents
Music and Lyrics by Duncan Sheik
Book by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
Directed by Jason Hoover
Music Director Ben Prince
Choreographer Leslie Waggoner
Only through June 8th, 2019
The Victoria Theatre
2961 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
Tickets and information available at http://rayoflighttheatre.com
Photo’s by Nick Otto