Theatre: “AMERICAN PSYCHO The Musical,” 2016 Broadway

“AMERICAN PSYCHO The Musical” is COMPANY for The Millennials.

One might make the quick comparison that AMERICAN PSYCHO the Musical is SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET for a new generation. After all, the main characters of both these musicals spend a goodly portion of plot and stage time murdering victims, either with a razor (Sweeney Todd) or in Patrick Bateman’s world with knives, or a buzzsaw or a gun. I would argue, however, to look deeper. For me, AP is the Millennial’s COMPANY.

If you haven’t seen AP let me say there will not be any spoilers here. Hey, I’m not even giving a critical assessment of the musical. I’m simply going to explain why it’s my point of view.

What equates Patrick Bateman to Bobby (the main character in COMPANY)? A fear of commitment and specifically of marriage. The drivers in both musicals are Patrick’s and Bobby’s emotional and psychological states as they unconsciously move towards an understanding of, and conquering of, that fear. Perhaps they are successful, perhaps not.

“American Psycho” is currently playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway.

In both AP and COMPANY Patrick and Bobby are single men living in Manhattan in the last quarter of the 20th Century, 25 to 30 years apart. Both men are well-to-do and happen to be white.  Both musicals are told within the framework of the emotional relationship between Patrick and Bobby to the other people (characters) in their world, as well as how those others see each of them. Both musicals include a birthday party for each man as hosted by those who hold them each most dear. Both musicals also include a wedding. The line that connects Patrick to Bobby, as opposed to Sweeney Todd, is Patrick’s and Bobby’s connection, or lack thereof, to the people around them.

Looking briefly at Sweeney Todd, he’s a man at an older age in life, living in another time, the Victorian era of the 19th Century, and in another country, London. Once married and with a child, both of whom he lost, Sweeney, is focused on revenge. That is what drives the musical. Sweeney’s relationships with the other people in his world are relationships that support his goal (Mrs. Lovett, the Beadle, etc.) or he has no use for the person (e.g., Anthony or Toby)

Sweeney is about revenge while Patrick is about self-awareness. That is especially evident if you believe, as I do, that what we, the audience, see on stage in not happening in real time, but rather in Patrick’s head.

So when someone says that AP is SWEENEY TODD, all they may be seeing is the slashing. That’s why I say look below the surface. One might see why Patrick and AMERICAN PSYCHO are Bobby and COMPANY the Millennials.

Oh, then there’s the matter of whether Patrick and Bobby are gay, or bi-sexual. I say, I’ll leave that for another blog, if there is one.