American Psycho: The Musical slays thanks to Kyle Patrick
Tue. October 10, 2023 by Jerry Nunn
It really is just a big, giant lens and you can see yourself in it.
american psycho cast
Singalong to Psycho this Halloween season
Kokandy Productions closes its 2023 season with the perfect show for a spooky season. First a novel, then a film and now a musical, American Psycho is the story of investment banker and serial killer Patrick Bateman. Set in New York City at the end of the eighties, Bateman’s shallow world revolves around his wife, secret lovers and making money. His mental state and exploits slowly unravel with a backdrop of music from the time period plus fresh tunes from writers Duncan Sheik and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
The Kokandy version is currently running in the lower level of The Chopin Studio Theatre, 1543 West Division Street, until November 26, 2023.
Performer Kyle Patrick plays Bateman with relish and aplomb as he leads a diverse cast that brings this mesmerizing story to life. Some of his other out-and-proud roles include Sons of Hollywood and The Boys in the Band for Windy City Playhouse, which made him a Jeff Award Winner for Best Ensemble/Best Production. Much more than just a triple threat, this openly queer artist is also a circus aerialist and a founder of SoliFilm Productions.
He met up following his opening night debut to slice and dice his quickly growing career path and performance.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, Kyle. Start off this interview with where you grew up.
KP: (Kyle Patrick) I was an army brat so I grew up in a lot of places, but mostly in Erie, Pennsylvania. I went down to North Carolina for college at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating I went back and forth between Chapel Hill and New York, then I stayed in Detroit for a while before I arrived in Chicago for the last five years.
JN: Did you always want to work in theater?
KP: Yes, but I also have a science background. That helped me prepare for this role because I fully intended to attend medical school for clinical pathology. That knowledge has really helped me live in Patrick Bateman’s skin because he has a fascination with the human body in a grotesque way.
I have always liked taking on the life of someone else in the world of acting. It is a nice reprieve from realism.
JN: I read you also have circus training.
KP: I am an aerialist primarily static trapeze. I trained up in Evanston at The Actors Gymnasium. They are a fantastic establishment and connected with the Lookingglass Theatre Company.
I work in film and have my own production company. A short film I just produced got into its 16th film festival. I am very happy and couldn’t ask for anything else.
JN: I saw you play the cowboy role in The Boys in the Band at Windy City Playhouse.
KP: That was a fun role!
JN: Did that immersive environment prepare you for audiences being so close in proximity to you while performing at The Chopin?
KP: Yes. I am taking a lot of that preparatory work into this one and also into my film work. When I first started in the world of film the camera intimidated me. It made me so nervous and one of my teachers explained that the camera wasn’t judging me and to remember it is an inanimate object. I told the teacher it felt like an evil eye and the teacher said it was only capturing what I do. I realized my teacher was right and that flipped a switch. I was no longer super nervous when it was so close to my face.
JN: I have always felt the same way about the camera myself.
KP: It really is just a big, giant lens and you can see yourself in it.
JN: What drew you to this role in American Psycho?
KP: I love horror films, but I particularly love Duncan Sheik. I saw the Deaf West Theatre production of Spring Awakening on Broadway and it blew me away. I was in tears and stunned.
JN: Was Lea Michele in it?
KP: No, this was after that. The Deaf West production incorporates American Sign Language into the choreography. Sometimes they would have two people playing a role and they would shadow someone who was deaf following the hearing actor. They made it part of the story.
That production made me fall in love with Duncan Sheik’s work.
The director Derek Van Barham reached out to me. He asked if I was still in Chicago and non-union. When I said yes he encouraged me to submit for American Psycho and I did.
At first, the music was so weird to me, but the more I listened to it the more I got into it.
JN: The music screams Spring Awakening to me.
KP: Yes. It is his most famous work. What I really love about the music Duncan Sheik creates is that it is very character-centric. This character gives me so much free reign with the music, granted it has jukebox songs from that time period, but the new music he put in gave me a lot of room to play.
JN: I didn’t love the movie, but it works as a musical for me.
KP: It is funny you say that because some of my friends have said the same thing to me. Mary Harron, who directed the film, felt she botched the end with everyone wondering if it is real or not. We wanted it to be similar to that but more of a feeling that Patrick Bateman can get away with anything. That is the harsh reality of life. It was very intriguing for me to read that.
I came into the role taking that knowledge and trying to honor the message attempted to be said previously. There is still an implication that some of it might not be real, but Patrick feels he really tried to confess his actions and it doesn’t work because no one wants to believe him.
JN: I guess that is how people get away with murder.
KP: Absolutely. If you look at the characters in this like detective Donald Kimball he might have possibly wanted to cover it up because it would make him look like a bad detective if he couldn’t solve it.
Mrs. Wolfe wouldn’t want people to be murdered in the apartment because it would be difficult for her to sell it.
We played into the scheme of people possibly covering for him to fit back into the machine.
JN: Do you feel Bateman was homophobic?
KP: I don’t think Patrick Bateman is homophobic. Patrick didn’t have fear of the gay person in the story but was instead surprised at how the situation was going. My character was trying to murder him, but lost control of the moment and was confused.
JN: What do think a show set in the late eighties says about current times?
KP: That is an excellent question. The first thing I can think of is what happens at the end of the show. There is always an element in our present times where the rich, white, wealthy elite can get away with whatever they want. Patrick Bateman is one of those people and gets away with the epitome of wrongdoing murder.
It is very interesting when people come to see this show. There was one audience where it was obvious they were working-class people and they loved every single jab we made at the elite. They were there to celebrate the power of the working class and it’s important to look at that with this show. There is a song about designer labels and it is a reminder about privilege.
JN: You took home an ensemble Jeff Award, but what if you won a solo award for this show?
KP: I would probably cry!
JN: Are you nervous about being in your underwear onstage? Do you wear two pairs at the same time like many performers do?
KP: I was nervous at first, but I am not anymore. I wear two dance belts and one pair of underwear. I tried two pairs of underwear but it looked weird because I was so close to the audience and it was obvious that I was wearing two pairs. I would rather give the illusion that I have on only one pair of underwear.
JN: There’s a microphone pack in the back of the undies too.
KP: Yes, I didn’t know where to put it at first! [laughs]
JN: What would you like audiences to take away from American Psycho: The Musical?
KP: The best thing we can do as an ensemble is to give people something to think about when they leave the theater. I want people to enjoy themselves and have a good time.
I also want them to have a different perspective like I was just mentioning before. They should wonder to themselves why they are laughing at these jokes when the main character is so messed up and can reflect on that. I want them to leave feeling a little bit bad for Patrick, but at the same time wondering why they feel bad when he has murdered several people. I want them to leave feeling confused about morality and if their own morals are possibly messed up.
JN: I think the show does a good job of balancing that.
KP: Good. If not the audience would just be happy that he was caught.
JN: It was similar to Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story where people were conflicted on how to feel about the series.
KP: The thing is that there is a line that you have to tow about glamorizing a serial killer versus showing something that is accurate to how serial killers are. Serial killers are scary because they are charismatic. They are not some terrible-looking person walking down on the side of the road and easily recognized. They are inconspicuous.
That is what I was trying to bring into this character. It is about hiding a terrifying person underneath this great veil of charm. That is what serial killers very often are.
JN: You mentioned you love horror movies. Which is your favorite one?
KP: That’s a hard question so I will pick three! One of my favorites is an indie film called All Hallows’ Eve. It was picked up to be with the Terrifier movie, which is on Netflix. The others are not as good, but All Hallows’ Eve is lovely because it is a small independent crew that had to tell an intriguing story without money for visual effects.
I love the classics with Freddy Krueger and Jason from Friday the 13th. For recent films, I like The Babysitter movies. They were on the verge of camp and comedy, but still good.
JN: Do you like the television series American Horror Story?
KP: I used to. Murder House had excellent writing and I liked Coven.
JN: You seem like someone Ryan Murphy would cast.
KP: I hope so! Why don’t you call him up for me and let him know?
JN: Well, Murphy spots people in live theatrical shows all the time. Darren Criss came out of the theater scene and performed in Chicago in the past. You could be the next one and seem ready!
KP: You are very kind, thank you.
JN: What else do you have in the works besides American Psycho The Musical?
KP: Right now I am in the final stages of a feature film I am working called Walter, Grace and The Submarine. It is an independent walk-and-talk movie with two people in it. My best friend Jessie Carl and I are the leads.
I have been really focused on American Psycho because it is tough. I told my agents I need a bit of a break when this is over in November!
Take a stab at tickets for American Psycho: The Musical by visiting kokandyproductions.com before it’s too late.
Look for Patrick’s short film Subsurface from SoliFilm Productions at various film festivals across the country and You’re OUT! is on AppleTV+ now.