The Bateman Bible, with Old and New Testaments. Photo: Whitney Mosery
The first day of rehearsal began like many others: greetings over coffee and official introductions of the small army gathered to bring this project to life. This was followed the eagerly awaited design presentation. When the design was revealed, the air was punctuated by gasps and bursts of applause, as everyone’s imaginations ignited. In an email sent from Los Angeles, our book writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, captured the general response to the design quite succinctly: 'Wow. Amazing. Wow.'
The American Psycho cast buckles down to a notes-bashing session. Photo: Whitney Mosery
First read throughs can be nerve wracking, but this one had us all grinning. Some scenes unexpectedly jumped off of the page; others revealed where we might need to flesh things out. My script is bristling with Post-Its, each corresponding to a particular scene in Bret Easton Ellis’ book, which has also received the Post-It treatment.The script for a musical is referred to as the 'book'. This can be confusing when a literary book is also involved, so we have decided to refer to Bret Easton Ellis’ source work as the 'novel'. Throughout rehearsals, we’ll be referring back to the novel to learn more details about the characters and the locations. It will also give us a sense of the rhythm and style of the language of New York in the 1980s. With my American accent, and Brooklyn roots, I’ll be keeping an ear out as well.
The men of Pierce and Pierce rehearse. Photo: Rupert Goold
Not ones to rest on their laurels, the creative team got the cast working immediately, learning music and choreography. It’s impossible not to bond when you’re sweating it out to classic 80s dance tunes and the enthusiasm of the cast is infectious. Duncan Sheik's music is inspired by the electronic sound of the 80s and demands a style and intention of singing that is rarely heard in musical theatre. The staging and choreography are equally innovative, riffing on the exaggerated postures of haute couture and the obscenely small food portions of haute cuisine. The creative team will continue to craft the sound and image of the production, not on paper but in the rehearsal room. So the sooner the cast master their 'oohs', 'ahhs' and Carlton dance moves, the sooner we’ll get to the good stuff.
By the end of the week, the big question, the one we’ve all been hearing and possibly asking ourselves, seems to no longer be a question at all: How is this novel going to become a musical? Of course it’s a musical. Patrick Bateman wouldn’t have it any other way.