Imagine that you’ve had a record-breaking, Seinfeld-esque “Serenity Now!”-level, unbelievably AWFUL day. Some of it is the result of one calamitous decision after another, while the rest is just the universe playing tricks on you. You descended into the subway instead of walking. You spoke up when you should have been silent. Someone hit you with their bag. Twice. You didn’t make reservations. You wore the wrong shoes for this much walking. WHAT is that smell, and dear Lord in heaven, where is it coming from? Oh, and it’s raining. Really, really hard. Of course you forgot your umbrella. Nothing–and I mean nothing–has gone your way. Then add to that the fact that this happens while you’re in New York City, an unforgiving megalopolis with a bloodhound’s nose for the scent of weakness.
In the summer of 2007, while Justin and I were still living in Phoenix, we made our annual pilgrimage to New York City with great anticipation. Our trips always included an ambitious list of restaurants to tackle, as well as a sampling of plays and musicals. That summer, we were excited to check out an Off-Broadway production we had read about called In The Heights.
At the 37 Arts Theater in Hell’s Kitchen (since renamed the Baryshnikov Arts Center), we were seated in the second row, close enough to see the beads of sweat on the performers’ faces and watch the spit escape from their lips. It was everything we’d hoped it would be: exciting, fresh, funny, captivating. We were so enamored with the performance that we waited after the show to speak to the creator, a young upstart named Lin-Manuel Miranda. But there was no one else waiting, and we questioned ourselves. Was this not done? Were we not supposed to approach the cast? We suddenly felt starkly like out-of-towners, clueless about the lay of the land. He exited the theater, and we lost our nerve. We stood there and watched him go by.
“I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.”
Before he became a contributor at The New Yorker or a best-selling author, I discovered David Sedaris where so many of his other fans have, on National Public Radio, and through Ira Glass’s spectacular radio program and podcast, This American Life (you can find many of his past contributions here). From there, I went on to read his essays, all of his books and attended live readings (read: performances — because, undoubtedly, that’s what they are) on what are now three separate occasions.
When I was younger, our family would spend the Christmas holidays visiting family in Singapore. My uncle was a fan of musicals and often had the recordings playing during our stay. I’d grown familiar with the scores of Cabaret and Jesus Christ Superstar, but had never actually seen a production. Then during the Grammy Awards in 1988 they featured a performance from Phantom of the Opera, and I became obsessed. When I finally made it to New York City, watching Phantom of the Opera was at the top of my to-do list, and it was the perfect culmination of my Broadway dreams.
Since then I’ve added somewhat to my Playbill collection. But Justin and I haven’t figured out how to become independently wealthy (tips welcome!), so we hem and haw, then judiciously try to pick shows that have something unique to offer. We’ve gravitated towards less conventional musicals — Fun Home’s deep material drew us in, while American Psycho’s promise got us there (you can find our post on that one here). When we heard about raves for She Loves Me, we were a little skeptical. It seemed too… basic. But boy, did it prove us wrong.
American Psycho the Musical is the latest iteration of Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel about Patrick Bateman, a young Wall Street executive obsessed with appearances, and his murderous activities. The musical follows the successful 2000 movie starring Christian Bale in the lead role, of which, admittedly, I am a big fan. I enjoyed the commentary about materialism as well as the concept of the villain, though highly exaggerated, who lives among us. As the tale unfolds, we eventually come to learn that some of the murders didn’t take place, leading us to question if any of them did — the realization that we are dealing with an untrustworthy narrator is a nice plot twist that alludes to the inner workings of a disturbed mind.