American Psycho is a darkly comedic, 1980's style musical about a psychopathic Wall Street douche that can't keep himself from brutally murdering people. It is satirical, hyperbolic, and quite terrifying. Stray Cat Theatre has made a name for itself as the premiere theatrical producer for hard hitting, rarely presented plays. I'd argue it is the best place to see contemporary drama. That is obviously not enough of a title for SCT, as they continue to branch out with the occasional musical endeavor. And thank God for that! There is no other theatre in The Valley that could pull off American Psycho with as clear a vision, sense of humor, or keen direction. This is a perfect storm of creative team, performance, music, and style. Stray Cat's name has become synonymous with high quality productions and American Psychos is a bloody, glistening example of why.
There is no one better to helm this devilish musical than the esteemed Ron May. The brains and heart behind STC, May is Arizona's most skilled, specific, brilliant director, and I'd fight anyone who says otherwise. His production of "Columbinus" at STC changed my life. Working as the guiding hand behind this misanthropic character study, May is in his wheelhouse. His twisted sense of humor is clear throughout, and because of it the comedic performances are right in the pocket. May has a knack for reeling in an audience with a slow burn severity that makes the explosions of visceral brutality alarmingly effective.
American Psycho delves deep into the mind of Patrick Bateman, the 26 year old, wildly successful, cutthroat adonis living in New York City in the late 80's. He's plagued with growing thoughts of contempt, envy, and ultimately, murder. Valley star Toby Yatso carries the weight of the show on his capable 6'6" shoulders as the show's central figure. I've known Yatso for many years, long before he became a staple at The Phoenix Theatre Company, and I can confidently say that this is Yatso at his best. He has grown into a powerful, commanding performer with a commitment, energy, and technique that is unmatched. I've never seen him disappear so fully into a character. His intensity is intimidating and his charisma is ferocious. His specificity is layered, showing glimpses of humanity under Bateman's shining yet monstrous veneer. With his clear voice and fluid yet clenched movement, he is perfectly suited for the flawless Bateman, and it's very clear why STC has brought an Equity contract into the mix in order to secure Yatso's involvement.
Though the show is largely Yatso's, there is a first rate ensemble that plays a wide variety of lively characters. Everyone has moments that feature them in hilarious bits, but the two main supporting characters nearly steal the show. Firstly, Michael Schauble is downright hilarious as Timothy Price, Bateman's coked up colleague. He's got the eyes of a shark, and blinks nearly as often. Schauble's fueled up performance chews the scenery every moment he's on stage. His is the only energy that tops that of Yatso's Bateman, leaving you equally as frightened by his uneasiness and exhausted from laughter. It is scary how perfect Schauble is, and it's hard to take your eyes off him.
But for me, the really exciting discovery was Emily Mohney as Bateman's frosty, calculating girlfriend, Evelyn Williams. I've never come across Mohney, though her bio reveals she's performed at most every local theatre. Mohney is a star, no question about it. She is stunning, yes, but what's most important is she has the most engaging presence I've seen in a long time. She also has the best comedic timing of the bunch, and her voice is literal butter. The role that I barely remember from the Broadway production simply soars in Mohney's magnetic hands, and I wanted more. Polished with ease, Mohney is also most believable as a high class socialite with an air of sophistication, breeding, and strength. I will make a point to see every show she does from here on out.
All in all, American Psycho at Stray Cat Theatre is not to be missed. This is alternative, contemporary musical theatre at it's best, and I cannot wait to see what STC does next. Stay Cat Theatre breathes exciting life and vibrant color into the pastel hewn local theatrical landscape, and with a $40 ticket price, it is an absolute steal. Please support this daring company in any way you can, but most of all, get your tickets to American Psycho now!