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Duncan Sheik on His 'Not Campy' American Psycho Musical and ‘Hopes’ for a New York Production

Duncan Sheik on His 'Not Campy' American Psycho Musical and ‘Hopes’ for a New York Production
Duncan Sheik
'You have to find the balance where it’s not just all gore all the time.'

Tony-winning composer Duncan Sheik’s new musical is sure to give audiences a scare. Sheik is composing the music for the world premiere of American Psycho. The musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ cult novel debuts at London’s Almeida Theatre, where it will run from December 3 through January 25. Broadway.com recently caught up with Sheik to get the scoop on this new show.

“The show is an interesting piece because it’s kind of a thriller in a way, but there’s obviously a lot of social satire and a lot of humor and clearly a lot of dark stuff about the human psyche and the human condition in this time of late capitalism,” Sheik said. “It’s not campy. It’s not making fun of the material at all. Obviously, Sweeney Todd is the precedent for this kind of show, and this kind of antihero, but it’s also one of the challenges, too, because you have to find the balance where it’s not just all gore all the time; you need to also have a certain amount of entertainment. Our team is fantastic [scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and director Rupert Goold], and I think it’s going to be pretty cool.”

As for how the musical will sound, Sheik, who won two Tony Awards and a Grammy Award for his 2006 musical Spring Awakening, said, “In keeping with my fascination with electronic music, the score is pretty much all analog synthesizers and drum machines, using some modern technologies like [music software] Ableton. It’s influenced by ‘80s dance music because that’s the era.”

American Psycho is the story of Patrick Bateman, a successful and handsome businessman living the high life in 1980s New York City. He indulges in the most expensive designer clothes, the most exclusive restaurants, the hottest clubs...and murder. The book was adapted into a film in 2000 starring Christian Bale.

Will New York audiences get a slice of Patrick Bateman and co. anytime soon? “Of course, everyone hopes to bring it to New York right away,” Sheik told Broadway.com. “But we have to see how it goes.”

For a sneak peak at some of the music from American Psycho, check out Sheik’s concerts at 54 Below from September 9 through September 14.

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