Kyle Ewalt, left, and Kipp Glass appear in Ray of Light Theatre’s “American Psycho” at the Victoria Theatre. (Courtesy Nick Otto)

‘American Psycho’ the musical stands tall in shallow ground

Ray of Light production is a guilty pleasure and thrill-ride

Have you been to Dorsia? The eatery is all the rage and apparently people will kill to get in. At least Patrick Bateman will.

Elite dinner reservations and business card brinksmanship are just two of the triggers that drive one of pop culture’s favorite mass murderers in the musical “American Psycho.” Yes, the musical.

Duncan Sheik wrote the era-evocative score — expertly rendered by music director Ben Prince — that blends theater originals with chart-topper interpolations from the 1980s like “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Don’t You Want Me.” It’s a perfect vehicle for Ray of Light Theatre, presenting the show in the appropriately decrepit Victoria Theatre.

The production leans heavily on its Broadway predecessor, with an effectively spare set by Angrette McCloskey enhanced by clever video projections by Eric Scanlon. Costumes by Katie Dowse read better for the men than the women.

At over 6 feet tall, Kipp Glass is an imposing Patrick Bateman, literally towering above his fellow actors. He smoothly alternates between preternatural calm and an increasing manic exasperation over the obliviousness of those around him for not acknowledging the prominence he knows he deserves.

You don’t exactly root for Bateman to go on his murderous rampage, but the more time you spend with the empty, self-absorbed people around him — his vacuous, social-climbing fiancé (smartly dumb work by Danielle Altizio), his cold, judgmental mother (Anna L. Joham) — the more you see his point. If you had any doubts, a name-checking consumerist number called “You Are What You Wear” makes it clear that deep down these people are real shallow.

So, it seems fair, in twisted Bateman logic, that his ax should fall on Paul Owen, the smarmy, self-satisfied co-worker who lands better women, better business cards (the inspiration for a fun production number), those Dorsia reservations, and — the greatest indignity —their company’s prime Fisher account. Of course, he has to die, and everything in the expert, graceful (in Leslie Waggoner’s angular choreography), and oh-so smug performance by Kyle Ewalt as Owen underscores the point. (In a casting coup of subliminal messaging, Ewalt stands inches taller than Glass, and so naturally has to be cut down to size.)

Lean and well-toned, Glass spends a generous amount of time stripped down to his soon to be blood-spattered tighty-whities. It evokes a conflicted attraction-repulsion response for the audience not dissimilar to the salvation he craves and fears from involvement with his sweetly adoring secretary (Zoey Lytle).

It’s an emotional bloodbath for Bateman to match the one he exacts onstage, and we’re along for the guilty pleasure thrill-ride the horror genre provides.

REVIEW

American Psycho

Presented by Ray of Light Theatre

Where: Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; closes June 8

Tickets: $35 to $40

Contact: www.rayoflighttheatre.com

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