Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New York Entertainment Buzz: Two Cool Cats in Hot Shows

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Benjamin Walker, American Psycho (photo: Jeremy Daniel)

Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, 236 West 45th St
Music & Lyrics Duncan Sheik; Book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; Directed by Rupert Goold; Choreography by Lynne Page (closes June 2016)

     Benjamin Walker, the groovy glue that held together the fantastic, frenetic, rock-musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, once again leads the charge in American Psycho. In Bloody, Walker portrayed the ambitious, blood-drenched 7th U.S. President. The progression to competitive, blood-drenched, modern-day banker in American Psycho appears seamless.
     This musical is based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel, a sendup of superficial 1980s values, featuring Wall Street investment banker Patrick Bateman. Bateman's days are filled with gym workouts, designer clothing, high finance, and "pissing contests" with his fellow yuppie/preppie money boys. His nights are filled with trendy restaurants, club hopping, cocaine snorting, random sex, and possibly serial killing.
     American Psycho's ensemble cast does a great job of discoing their way through the plot, but it is Walker as Bateman who knocks it out of the park. Walker has charisma that charisma itself knows nothing about. Maybe 'cause there's a spotlight on him the whole time, but you would have to say he glows. Heléne Yorke is also terrific as Evelyn, Bateman's airhead yuppie/preppie girlfriend. Hard to believe that a musical about a purported serial killer and the petty, materialistic interests of 1980s yuppies could be so funny and wildly entertaining. See for yourself and take the Psycho 80s' Quiz before you go.
Editor's Note: Coincidentally, when time permits, Benjamin Walker produces and hosts Find the Funny, a comedy/variety show at Joe's Pub.

Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette St; Tel: 212-967-7555
Shows through June 2016 (Cost: $25, plus a $12 food or 2-drink minimum) 
Gad Elmaleh

    A French-Moroccan Jew walks into a bar...actually, Joe's Pub...and puts on a comedy show in English. This death-defying act is performed by Gad Elmaleh, a man with true comedy cojones. Hugely popular as a comedian and film star in Europe and other French-speaking locales, he's virtually unknown here. Yet, the shows are sold out. Apparently New York, the melting pot that it is, provides enough French, French-Canadian, and North African adoring expatriate fans to fill the room. However, since the show's in English, much of the subtle humor goes over their heads, while the smattering of Americans are laughing their heads off--it's an interesting paradox.
    The best comedians are keen observers of human nature and Elmaleh puts an international spin on his wry perceptions of life in New York vs. Paris and Casablanca. It's humor laced with insight and curiosity more than belly laughs.
    As to why he wants to do comedy in English, the answer: to New Yorkers, "I want to challenge myself"; to Californians, "It's my passion project." In other parts of the world, Elmaleh plays to arena-sized crowds, so it's a special treat to see him perform in this intimate venue as he gets his feet wet here in America. I encourage you to do what you can to get tickets now. Pretty soon, it won't be easy to see him so up-close-and-personal in the U.S.
Editor's Note: Gad's opening for his pal Jerry Seinfeld at the Beacon Theater in NYC on June 8, 2016.

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