By Andrea Towers
February 19, 2016 at 03:53 AM EST
Joan Marcus

The cast of Broadway’s American Psycho had only been rehearsing for eight days when they took the stage for a press preview Feb. 18 at the New 42nd Street Studios  But based on their highly vibrant performance, you’d never know it.

Leading man Benjamin Walker  — no stranger to the sanguine, as the lead in the 2010 musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson — and co-stars Heléne York (Masters of Sex), Alice Ripley (Next To Normal), Jennifer Damiano (Next To Normal) and Drew Moerlein (South of Hell) led a high-energy company in a taste of what audiences can expect when the musical based on Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel opens March 24 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The cast performed four songs that ranged from an eclectic opening to a wistful love ballad, including “Selling Out,” “A Girl Before,” “Cards,” and “You Are What You Wear.”

Perhaps the most surprising revelation from those seeing the performance for the first time was the fact that, for a gory story, the musical takes an even more humorous approach than the film. “You go on Patrick’s journey,” says Walker, who plays the enigmatic Patrick Bateman (fancy suits and all.) “In the movie, he’s distant and cold, and in the book, there’s something off-putting about what he’s done. Whereas in this, you can attempt to justify his actions. There’s something funny about seeing someone about to do something horrifying and right before they do it they go, ‘Wait a minute! This is what I’m thinking.'”

“I think audiences will come in expecting one thing and leave experiencing so much more than they expected,” says York, who plays Bateman’s girlfriend Evelyn Williams (a role Reese Witherspoon took in the movie). “Which is to laugh, to be scared, and to run the gamut of emotions.”

Directed by Rupert Goold (King Charles III), who also helmed the acclaimed London production, American Psycho features music and lyrics by Spring Awakening’s Duncan Sheik, choreography by Lynne Page (La Cage Aux Folles), and a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Glee). Based on what we saw at today’s eclectic, ’80s-enthused performance, we can’t confirm the production will be as bloody as Bateman’s antics — but we can confirm they’ll be taken with his charm. 

“The metaphor we use is that he’s like an alien from another planet,” says Walker of his character. “He’s trying to understand things, trying to be understood, but he really doesn’t understand things, and it frustrates him. But everyone can relate to feeling misunderstood and feeling isolated.”

American Psycho opens in previews March 24 with an opening night set for April 20.

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