BWW Feature: Adventurous Utah Rep to Host Tony Winner Duncan Sheik at AMERICAN PSYCHO Production in Salt Lake City
Duncan Sheik, a Tony and Grammy Award winner for "Spring Awakening," will travel to Salt Lake City to join Utah Repertory Theater Company for the Rocky Mountain premiere production of AMERICAN PSYCHO, it was announced.
Sheik will attend the Saturday, Dec. 7, performance and participate in a post-performance talkback during the company's Nov. 30-Dec. 15, 2019, run of AMERICAN PSYCHO.
"A great song has to move the listener in some powerful way. It can be incredibly sad and filled with pathos but it has a cathartic effect, or it can be really up and exciting and have a euphoric effect," Sheik has said. "It can be really strange and enigmatic and have a mysterious, compelling effect. But it has to have a strong effect."
Sheik uniquely enjoys a career that straddles the pop-alt rock world and compositions for musical theater. His first break came early in his career, with the 1996 hit "Barely Breathing" that continues to pop up here and there in TV and film and helped define its era. With undeniably catchy lyrics and a sing-along chorus, "Barely Breathing" stayed on the U.S. Billboard charts for more than a year, winning a BMI Award for most played song of 1997. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Years after the Top 40 hit amid releasing solo albums of his compositions, Sheik turned to theater. In 2007, he struck gold with "Spring Awakening," a rock-musical adaptation of a 19th-century German play of the same name. Sheik shared the Tony Award honor for best original score with creative partner Steven Sater and won for best orchestration on his own, a total of eight Tony Awards that year including Best Musical.
According to Sheik: "I wish I could get the regular music listeners to go see theater and the theatergoers to listen to more normal music. They just seem to be in different universes, and I keep trying to find interesting ways to bring those worlds together."
When he was approached to adapt Bret Easton Ellis' cult shock-lit novel "American Psycho," Sheik didn't think a musical about a yuppie serial killer made a ton of sense.
"I said, 'This is a terrible idea.'
"I had read the book when I was in college when it first came out in 1991. Frankly, the idea of turning 'American Psycho' into a musical seemed pretty daft to me in the beginning. But when I re-read the book [in] 2009, I had one of those lightbulb-over-the-head moments where I thought, this will be really cool to create a piece of musical theater where the whole sonic palette was electronic music because basically all these characters were going out to nightclubs in New York City in the mid-to-late '80s. It was when early house music and early techno and EDM from the U.K. and Europe was starting to happen here in New York. I remember that time really well because I was sneaking into those same clubs as a teenager."
AMERICAN PSYCHO: THE MUSICAL paints the shocking, funny and unsettling portrait of Patrick Bateman, a 26-year-old Manhattan investment banker with a designer lifestyle and an idiosyncrasy for murder.
Where the 2000 film focused more on the horror and black humor of the novel, the musical goes for the jugular, ramping up the ridiculous humor and graphic sexuality to reflect the heightened state of a musical. The soulless murders are not for suspense or drama, but used as an intellectual trope, emphasizing the caustic satire about materialism and unbridled sex - and the empty feeling that comes with being satisfied by nothing.
"So smooth, so rich, so ruthless. A carnal carnival of song and dance," reviewed The New York Times, while the Associate Press wrote, "AMERICAN PSYCHO slays onstage! Wonderful! Graphic sex acts, torturing, stabbing, slashing, axe-wielding, snorting coke off toilets and a marvelous score."
"I look at AMERICAN PSYCHO as a fable, as an allegory, as an amazing commentary on contemporary Western civilization," the composer told an interviewer. "He's sort of the victim of the world in which he lives."
Pure joy from curtain up to chainsaw down, AMERICAN PSYCHO: THE MUSICAL veers between comedic and horrific, between satire and splatter-horror, and between a savage social diary of the times and a vivid exploration of psychological disintegration. The slick, sexy, highly disturbing show will have you snort-laughing into your chardonnay before coward-punching you in the gut.
In addition to the original music he composed for the 2002 New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Twelfth Night," Sheik's stage credits include "Whisper House," "Carson McCullers Talks About Love" (with Suzanne Vega), "Alice by Heart," "Because of Winn-Dixie" and most recently "The Secret Life of Bees," written with two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage ("Sweat").
Sheik joins five other Broadway notables who have joined the company for their area premieres:
• Hunter Bell, Tony nominee for "[title of show]"
• Adam Gwon, "Ordinary Days"
• Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, "Straight"
• S. Asher Gelman, "Afterglow."
The mission of Utah Rep is to produce adventuresome and illuminating premieres of dramas and musicals along with neglected shows that area theatergoers would not otherwise be able to see in Utah. Over its seven-year history, the company has produced over 30 critically acclaimed productions including the regional premieres of "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Heathers: The Musical," "Carrie," "Bare: A Pop Opera," "Afterglow," "The Bridges of Madison County," "August: Osage County," "Straight," "Bonnie & Clyde" and "Side Show."