Before audiences found themselves empathizing with serial killer Dexter, they got a taste of an All-American serial killer with Patrick Bateman of “American Psycho.” His story continues to draw audiences with its exploration of what drives someone to murder.
Stray Cat Theatre will present “American Psycho The Musical,” developed by Duncan Sheik and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, from Saturday, November 9, to Saturday, November 23, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.
Based on a 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis and the 2000 film starring Christian Bale, the musical follows Patrick Bateman, a sleek Wall Street banker with a penchant for murder. He lives a life of excess filled with exclusive clubs, high-end restaurants and designer suits, but he is also fighting his own inner demons and slowly losing touch with reality.
Directed by Ron May, the local production features a mix of familiar and new faces.
This will be the first Stray Cat production for Toby Yatso, the actor playing Patrick Bateman, and Patti Davis Suarez, the actress playing Mrs. Bateman, Svetlana and Mrs. Wolfe.
Yatso regularly performs with Phoenix Theatre Company, where he has played neurotic characters such as Orin Scrivello in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Yatso says while the sadistic dentist is more over-the-top and exists in a different reality than Patrick Bateman, there are some similarities between the two roles.
“They are both characters that have an obsession, a fixation, an identity crisis, a duplicity of identity and a proclivity to violence. They are similar in that way, but I would argue that the way the dentist is portrayed in ‘Little Shop’ is more comically two-dimensional than how Patrick is brought to life in ‘American Psycho,’” Yatso says.
With the character of Patrick Bateman, Yatso tries to explore the human side of the character and delve into what drives him to kill.
“Patrick Bateman is a very complicated, troubled person. I think any actor who works hard at this is fascinated by those complicated, challenging roles. This is a version of neurosis that goes into a different territory, vibe and mood than I’ve been able to do thus far,” Yatso says.
The show explores how insecurities can be harmful and drive a person to extremes.
“The sense of where it stems from, coming from a place of insecurities and having to compensate for it, everybody feels that way at some point. We all feel like an imposter at some point in our lives. I guess the question that this piece tries to answer is what happens when that goes so far?” Yatso says.
Yatso says he was intrigued with the untraditional quality of the show.
“I really love this artform a lot. I love how brave it can be, and I love when it experiments with itself and tries to get away with something uncharted or unexpected. When there’s an opportunity to take a risk like that, it’s very enticing and very attractive,” Yatso says.
The show is set in the 1989, a time in American history marked by excessive displays of wealth. This theme is explored in the show through Patrick Bateman and his colleagues.
“Your wealth had to be conspicuous. If you didn’t see it, it didn’t count. So, your image and your sense of identity in other people’s eyes was easy to obsess over and challenging to maintain because you had to keep up with it,” Yatso says.
The show touches on how certain brands, such as a Rolex watch, marked a person’s status.
The production blends musical theater pieces with a new wave flair with well-known songs from the 1980s.
Similar to the movie, the show tells the story through a dark comedy lens.
“It is on many levels a satire of American cultural extremes in the 1980s. It shines a very bold mirror back at society. It’s meant to bring laughs at well as bring shock and awe,” Yatso says.
Stray Cat Theatre’s Production of “American Psycho the Musical”
Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480.350.2822, straycattheatre.org, Saturday, November 9, to Saturday, November 23, $40 for adults, $35 for students and seniors, $15 for students on Thursdays.