PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 20-26: Daniel Slays the Stallion

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 20-26: Daniel Slays the Stallion
 
Daniel Radcliffe made his long-awaited Broadway debut Sept. 25 at the Broadhurst.

"Harry Potter" himself, Peter Shaffer's psychological drama, Equus — one of the quintessential serious-play hits of the '70s — was his vehicle. Richard Griffiths was his co-star. Thea Sharrock, who directed the previous London run of the production, was the director. And the world was his audience.

Today, Radcliffe is breathing easy. According to the theatre's arbiters of achievement (i.e, the critics), he leaped over this career hurdle with room to spare. Not only did he not embarrass himself, he distinguished himself, creating a character far distant from Harry, a disturbing soul that served the play and illustrated Radcliffe's growth as an actor. Griffiths also turned in a good performance, said the reviewers, but that came as no surprise. Griffiths always makes a good show.

More of a surprise were the number of reviews that stated that the real loser of the revival was Shaffer's play itself, which was thought not to have held up well over time. As USA Today said, "Daniel Radcliffe…is aging a lot more gracefully than the play." I doubt producers are fretting about those comments, though. People aren't buying tickets to this Equus to see Equus.

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Jena Malone, Lili Taylor and John Cullum will go O'Neill in a big way this coming January. They star in The New Group's forthcoming Off-Broadway revival of Mourning Becomes Electra. New Group artistic director Scott Elliott will stage the trilogy. Taylor is a veteran of the troupe, having appeared in Aunt Dan and Lemon. She also worked with Elliott on Broadway, acting in the director's Three Sisters. *** The Broadway production of Rent, no longer a living, breathing reality since Sept. 7, began its new cinematic life on Sept. 24, when screenings of the final Broadway cast of Jonathan Larson's musical began at movie theatres around the country. The Aug. 20 and Sept. 7 performances of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical were filmed live at the Nederlander Theatre. A composite of those two evenings — including the Sept. 7 finale that featured many of the show's original stars — was "cinecast" in movie theatres nationwide. The movie, which utilizes high-definition video and digital audio technology, was directed by Michael Warren.

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The long-awaited TKTS booth, featuring a luminescent red staircase on which theatre fans can now forever practice their Georges Guétary impressions, will officially open in the heart of the newly renovated Duffy Square Oct. 16. Start getting in line.

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Whatever you hold in your heart to be the most bizarre idea ever proposed for a musical, put it aside: there's a new sheriff in town.

Plans are afoot for a stage musical adaptation of "American Psycho," the Bret Easton Ellis novel that has revolted, provoked and fascinated critics and readers since it was published in 1991. It concerns Patrick Bateman, a young, successful investment banker living in Manhattan in the 1980s. He does what a lot of heroes of "Brat Pack" novels did in the '80s: lives in a swank apartment, goes to clubs, drinks, snorts cocaine, obsesses about clothing, and casually regrets the aimless, empty course of he life. He also, however, is a serial killer who sexually abuses and hacks apart various women, without apparent remorse. This is what makes him special.

When the book came out, many accused Ellis of possessing a sadistic, misogynist, sensationalistic mind. (The murder scenes are about as graphically depicted as one can imagine.) Ellis argues that the book was a work of extreme satire, mocking the vacuity and superficiality of the Reagan years. The author received death threats and was pilloried by many prominent figures in society and literature. Depending on your point of view, "American Psycho" either cemented Ellis' reputation as a writer, or destroyed it. Certainly, no one has ever forgotten the book.

Among those who have not forgotten it — and apparently love it — are The Johnson-Roessler Company, The Collective and XYZ Films, who have partnered to "acquire, develop and produce the live stage version," according to a press statement. In an odd cart-before-the-horse arrangement, no dramatists have been drafted for the production. So, there's no play, per se. Not yet. We do know, however, that the show will feature a mix of original music and hit tunes from the '80s.

In a statement co-producer Johnson said, "'American Psycho' continues to be a cultural phenomenon. Ellis' book contains so many memorable lines and musical references that a live musical production is the perfect fit. The character of Patrick Bateman has become an icon for fans of Ellis' book and the film adaptation, and now we can bring this dark but comical world of greed to the stage in an entertaining and thought-provoking way."

Writer Ellis added, "This is the perfect storm of creative people to turn 'American Psycho' into an entertaining musical play. 'American Psycho''s essence is the high-flying 80s, the decadence and the music — together, they are the equivalent of a spectacular train wreck you have to watch."

"A spectacular train wreck." He said it, I didn't.

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