11 April 2024

A killer of a musical is about to hit Wollongong

| Dione David
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Alex Perritt rehearses for American Psycho the musical

The “who’s who” of Illawarra theatre groups are in rehearsals for American Psycho the musical – an Australian premiere in amateur theatre hitting Wollongong next month. Photo: Grayson Wallace-Mitchell, Rising Arts Productions.

“Fun” is perhaps not the word that springs to mind when you think of satirical psychological horror American Psycho, but when the characters break into 80s songs we all know and love, or an original number about the gloriousness of business cards, you’re forced to reconsider.

The American Psycho musical from Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Riverdale, The Picture of Dorian Gray) hits Bruce Gordon Theatre at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre in Wollongong next month thanks to Illawarra community theatre company Rising Arts Productions, making it the Australian amateur theatre premiere.

Based on the electrifying novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the musical tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a young and handsome Wall Street banker with impeccable taste and unquenchable desires. Patrick and his elite group of friends spend their days in chic restaurants, exclusive clubs and designer labels. But at night, Patrick takes part in a darker indulgence, and his mask of sanity is starting to slip …

The musical adaptation presents a chance for audiences to shake off misconceptions about this tale, according to producer, director and founding member of Rising Arts Productions Jarrod Riesinger.

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He says the parody that’s perhaps lost on some folk in the book and movie can’t be missed in the musical production.

“There’s a bit of stigma around American Psycho, that it glorifies the worst parts of corporate culture and lifestyle. In reality it’s the complete opposite,” he says.

“Put it this way: there’s one raucous dance scene that centres on business cards … It’s a clear parody of that alpha male rich corporate lifestyle, but while the book and movie are already funny in themselves, the musical takes it to a new level by putting that satire in the spotlight.

“It’s the epitome of ridiculousness and over-the-topness, and that’s what makes it so fun.”

Alex Perritt who plays the unhinged and iconic protagonist Patrick Bateman is "very keen to have a manic episode on stage".

Alex Perritt who plays the unhinged and iconic protagonist Patrick Bateman is “very keen to have a manic episode on stage”. Photo: Grayson Wallace-Mitchell, Rising Arts Productions.

Rising Arts Productions is a community theatre company that performs across the Illawarra and Sydney with a focus on creating more opportunities for young performers and engaging young people in the arts through accessible theatre.

American Psycho is the company’s most ambitious production yet, with full projections, elaborate sets and costumes and a talented and dedicated volunteer cast and crew that Jarrod says is the “who’s who” of Illawarra theatre groups.

“To bring such a phenomenal collective cast of talent from different theatre groups and backgrounds from all over the Illawarra to work together on a project is pretty rare,” he says.

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Tasked with pulling off what Jarrod calls “an equally hilarious and deeply dark criticism of toxic masculinity” (aka iconic protagonist Patrick Bateman) is Wollongong actor Alex Perritt.

“I am really excited by Patrick. He is truly awful and represents so much that I despise, which is super fun to explore and dive into,” he says.

“Villains are fun to play, but anti-hero villains are the only villain roles where you get enough stage time to really dig deep into motivation and the many facets of their personalities.

“This is a character that many people know and have strong opinions about, so I am excited to bring my own spin to it. Very keen to have a total personality breakdown and manic episode on stage.”

American Psycho hits Bruce Gordon Theatre at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on Thursday 23 May at 6:30 pm, Friday 24 May at 6:30 pm and Saturday 25 May, at 1:30 pm and 6:30 pm. Tickets cost $50 for adults and $45 for concessions, groups of 10+ and students – book here.

Note: This production contains adult themes, strong language, haze, use of herbal cigarettes, strobe lighting, sexual references and depictions of violence and is recommended for audiences aged 15 and over.

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