'American Psycho' creators turn to crowd-funding

Duncan Sheik and folks behind 'American Psycho' musical turn to crowd-funding

Associated Press
'American Psycho' creators turn to crowd-funding
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FILE - This May 3, 2012 file photo shows Duncan Sheik at a special screening of "Hick" in New York. …

NEW YORK (AP) -- Duncan Sheik is part of an unusual campaign on Kickstarter: Not to get his musical "American Psycho" up and running. It's to make it killer.

The Almeida Theatre in London has already agreed to mount the world stage premiere of Bret Easton Ellis' novel this winter but Sheik wants to give it a $150,000 infusion.

The Kickstarter campaign, which ends May 24, will go to fund things like more musicians, better sets and top-notch lights. As of Thursday morning, it had raised $78,830.

"This allows us to up the ante in terms of what the production is going to entail," the Grammy- and Tony-winning singer-songwriter said. "I think it's about being able to do things in the space that make for a really cool immersive theatrical experience."

The 1991 novel — made into a movie starring Christian Bale — follows a homicidal New York yuppie named Patrick Bateman who is obsessed with high-end clothes and beauty products even as he slashes his way through Manhattan. Bateman also fancies himself a music critic, but spews out mostly inane ruminations about Genesis and Huey Lewis and the News.

The book for the stage version was written by playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and will be directed by Rupert Goold, the Almeida's artistic director. Sheik has penned music and lyrics for 14 original songs, including "You Are What You Wear," which can be heard on the crowd-funding site.

Regardless of whether it meets its Kickstarter goal or not, there will be one more workshop in June. Rehearsals begin in October, and the musical will begin performances on Dec. 2.

Sheik says the show — co-produced by the 325-seat Almeida and the Headlong Theatre company in association with David Johnson and Jesse Singer for Act 4 Entertainment — will have a budget as much as seven times the Kickstarter goal.

Goold, who recently staged Patrick Stewart's Stalinist "Macbeth" and a thrilling "Romeo and Juliet" in New York, said he is looking forward to "bringing this extraordinarily iconic, yet funny and indeed deeply complex book to the stage at the Almeida."

The project has given Sheik, who had the 1996 smash-hit single "Barely Breathing" and is the songwriter of the Tony-winning musical "Spring Awakening," a chance to delve into '80s electronic music.

"This allowed me to take my love of drum machines and analog synthesizers and different kinds of technology and really get much more deeply into using those as the compositional tools. It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time and this was a great opportunity to jump in the pool," he said.

He has reached out to Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, Lewis and New Order for permission to use their songs, too. He hopes the show might then make it to Broadway — but first it has to be a hit in London.

"Of course, I think it should come to New York, but I also know we have to get it up onstage and have it be this amazingly mind-bending experience for the audience for it to deserve to make that journey across the Atlantic."

The use of Kickstarter to supplement a production is unusual. Most who tap the crowd-funding site — actor and writer Zach Braff raised $2 million to fund a follow-up to "Garden State" and Rob Thomas got $5.7 million to finance a movie of "Veronica Mars" — do so to get their projects off the ground, not to augment them.

Sheik has plenty on his plate besides "American Psycho." He has been working on musical adaptations of "The Nightingale," ''Because of Winn-Dixie" and "Alice in Wonderland," as well as plans for a new album.

He recently tweeted the song list for the new CD, an act he admits was as much for him as for his fans: "It forces me to get it done," he said with a laugh. "There's a method to my madness."

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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