It’s hard to tell if the American Psycho musical knows that it sounds like a joke straight out of The Simpsons—or whether it matters. Imagine Homer Simpson and his family on a trip to Capital City, and Marge announces that there’s a musical based on Bret Easton Ellis’s novel. The kicker: Duncan Sheik wrote the music. But this is no joke, despite the copious jokes. It’s real life, and we’re stuck with what to make of this ludicrous crowd-pleaser.
I’m reminded of another absurd musical adaptation of another quintessential novel of ’80s New York depravity: Paul Scott Goodman’s Patrick Wilson-starring Bright Lights, Big City, from 1999, which took its odd subject for musical theater and ran with it so far past its farcical extremes that it came out the other side. The hero of Jay McInerney’s novel had a fixation on a comatose child, and Goodman gave “Coma Baby” its own song, which is revisited throughout; he did the same for a missing NYU student on a milk carton. The downtown cokeheads at the Odeon repeat the line “Can you make me cum?” until it sounds like catchy nonsense a la “da doo ron ron.”