When Headlong, the theatre company behind hits such as Lucy Prebble's Enron, announced last April that it was developing a musical based on Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, many a literary and theatrical eyebrow was raised.
If Headlong's artistic director Rupert Goold could translate a story of company fraud to the stage, surely the story of a psychopathic banker wouldn't be hard to manage. But a musical? Are we ready for songs called things like "Business Card Envy", "Where Did That Rat Go?" and "I Have To Return Some Video Tapes (Reprise)"?
The theatre magazine Playbill reported today that the debut of the production will take place at the Almeida Theatre in north London in the autumn. With direction from Goold, music from Duncan Sheik – who scored Spring Awakening – and a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who was hired to rescue the cursed Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark), it will, fingers crossed, most likely be rather good. Despite the unlikely subject matter.
American Psycho will follow the year's biggest new stage musical, The Book of Mormon, by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Mormon – a foul-mouthed poke at Mormonism, religion (and atheism) – has been one of the Broadway's biggest critical hits in years, despite rattling more taboos than, er, Taboo.
Goold and co will, however, hope that their American Psycho doesn't follow another unlikely musical based on a key book of the yuppiefied Eighties – Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City. The story of the fact-checker-by-day, party-animal-by night was turned into an off-Broadway rock musical in 1999 with songs including "Odeon" (sample lyric: "I-ay-yi-yi/Wanna have sex tonight!"). It was so bad that one magazine compared it to the musicals imagined by writers of The Simpsons (Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off), except for the fact that it was deadly serious.
For the American Psycho team, the bar for brat-pack musical adaptations has been set pleasingly low.