Sunday, May 26, 2024

San Francisco Musical Production of “American Psycho” is Crazy Good

“American Psycho” made its West Coast Premiere at Ray of Light Theatre Company and I’d ask for my money back.

Not for my theatre ticket as the show was to die for. But in the show, the lead character Patrick Bateman describes in great detail the money he spends on face scrubs, suits and right down to his $60 pair of Ralph Lauren underwear.

It seemed at the moment that this production was flawless but they may not have focused on the details of the character’s underwear, which he is running around in just those for much of the show. Bateman seems to be wearing a pair of Fruit-of-the-Loop from a 3-pak for $9.99. So if I were Patrick Bateman, I would have asked for a refund for those underwear.

As I sat through this stellar production of the musical based upon the movie which was based upon a book, I observed closely as I was actually loving this production even more than the Broadway version!

That is a big and impressive accomplishment as I am a fan of composer Duncan Sheik and its original star Benjamin Walker.

So with lots of scrutiny, I sat in judgement of “Psycho” and couldn’t find a flaw except for the underwear. Yet, it turns out I’m wrong! Since seeing the show, I did google Ralph Lauren white underwear – and they look just like the one’s in the show! Great eye costume designer Katie Dowse, I am VERY impressed.

Before you think how odd it is I focused on the underwear, I did it for two reasons. The first of course is to be able to post a picture of lead actor Kipp Glass, showcasing his sexy body in his underwear. Secondly, to show how even down to the underwear, Ray of Light keep a keen on detail and it is hard to find a flaw of any kind within the show.

Director Jason Hoover has outdone himself with this show with great pacing and ease of set changes. He also gets the best performance out of each member of the cast. Even the use of the phone number on the business cards in the show is genius! When you see it, note the phone number and call it later!

Then there’s that lighting and video work from Weili Shi and Erik Scanlon. For a show that takes place in the late nineties, this “Psycho” production is modern and sleek, creating moods, extended sets and excellent use of blood splatter control. Their work would easily be Tony nominated had they worked on the original production.

Let’s not forget the cast. The lead part is a tough one – and not easily to like.

Should you have missed the Bret Easton Ellis novel or the Christian Bale movie, “Psycho” is the story of a functioning serial killer who has a beautiful girlfriend, a high power job on Wall Street and a lifestyle to match.

But Patrick Bateman may blend in with others, but it doesn’t take but a moment to set him off, which leads to graphic murders or violent sexual acts. Even the slightest thing – like someone else having a better business card or landing a major client – could lead to the demise of the character who one-upped Patrick.

Glass certainly has the looks of someone who would only wear expensive suits and enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Glass’ body easily makes us believe that he can seduce any man or woman and find the vulnerable moment to ponce on his prey. While there’s tons of dialog for Glass to utter, a lot of his performance can be found in his face. He’s able to look vacuous in one scene and able to kill without much thought. Then, he’s able to showcase a fake smile to be able to function in society. Let’s not forget about his psycho stares. There’s a few times he actually looks menacing and crazy that causes one to feel a bit anxious even from the audience.

His voice, too, deserves its own praise. He has quite a range where he’s able to overpower a scene with his big strong vocals and then able to showcase vulnerability in the softer ranges.

He’s not alone on the stage though – everyone is in top form.

Kirstin Louie as Bateman’s side piece (and his girlfriend’s best friend) is a riot! She can teach a master class on dialog delivery as every word she says is funny because of how she says it. Then there’s Zoey Lytle as Bateman’s secretary Jean. Her beautiful and tender voice is matched by a sweet persona, making her vulnerable and fragile in her second act song. I don’t remember Jean from the Broadway show but I don’t think I’ll ever forget her now, thanks to Lytle.

I love musical theatre and shows like this are the reason why. This is perhaps Ray of Light’s best production and I urge everyone who likes quality theatre in the Bay Area who can’t travel to Broadway, to get tickets at It closes June 8.

Bring your friends! But don’t bring disrespectful theatre goers. I am writing this as a PSA but it’s happening more and more at live venues in addition to movies so this isn’t exclusive to Ray of Light. The production of “Psycho” I saw had some friend of the cast in the audience who took it upon herself to scream to the stage every time her friend appeared and to applaud loudly with catcalls at songs that weren’t even done. This person even once screamed out “awkward” during a tense scene.

Please please – if you don’t want to respect other theatre goers with manners and politeness, remember that people on the stage are working and you are taking away from their performances when you scream out, applaud at the wrong times, chit chat in the theatre and – worse – sing along! Please think of others. Please!

Photos by Nick Otto

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Kevin M. Thomas

Kevin M. Thomas, or @ReelKev, is an arts blogger and entertainment reporter. In addition to his own website, and ReelKev YouTube channel, Kevin used to be the LGBT arts writer for and contributes to as well as a semi-regular on San Francisco's cable TV show, "10 Percent."

Kevin M. Thomas has 157 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin M. Thomas

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