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That’s Great, But Can He Sing? – Doctor Who’s Matt Smith Cast as Lead in Musical Adaptation of American Psycho

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith has been cast in the lead role of an upcoming stage musical adaptation of the 1991 novel/2000 film American Psycho, which is scheduled to run at London’s Almeida Theatre from Dec. 3, 2013 to Jan. 25, 2014.  No, seriously.  Cue up your best David Tennant-esque method of offering a befuddled reading of the word “what?!?” in response to this news.

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. That’s great, but can you do it again but this time use more jazz hands?

When you grow accustomed to seeing certain actors in one specific role (or specific kind of role), it is very easy to simply place them in a box, e.g., all Jennifer Aniston does is play different versions of her Rachel Green character from Friends.  In the case of Matt Smith, that box has a very specific shade of blue and purports to be far bigger on the inside than on the outside.  I refer, of course, to the TARDIS, the spaceship our favorite Time Lord from Gallifrey uses to traverse through time and space.  Smith was the practical unknown who became the youngest actor ever to play the role of the Doctor, and was at the heart of the Doctor Who franchise as it finally moved away from cult following to a genuine hit in America over the past 4 years.  Even though he has done things outside of Doctor Who, such as playing the homosexual Christopher Isherwood in the BBC TV film Christopher and His Kind, it has been easy to conflate man and role with Smith and his Doctor.  In interviews, Smith displays many of the same characteristics unique to his version of the Doctor – high-wire energy, slight social awkwardness, and tendency to talk with his hands a lot.

As such, it’s a bit challenging to hear of Smith’s casting in a musical and not picture it as the Matt Smith version of the Doctor starring in a musical.  For example, might he sing an ode to bowties, which everyone knows are cool?  There has actually been an official Doctor Who musical before, a Big Finish audio adventure entitled Doctor Who and the Pirates! centered around Colin Baker’s Doctor.  This is different.  It has nothing to do with Doctor Who.  In fact, even though Smith’s final two Doctor Who specials have yet to air, filming has reportedly already wrapped on the Christmas special which will see his Doctor regenerate into the new one to be portrayed by Peter Capaldi.  As such, Smith has now officially completed his on-screen work as the Doctor.

If you can get past picturing Smith as being something other than the Doctor, it might be equally challenging picturing him as Patrick Batemen.  We’ve at least seen him sing, albeit only jokingly in a brief Doctor Who Confidential segment:

But Patrick Bateman?  If you’ve never heard of/read/seen American Psycho, the Hollywood Reporter has a handy dandy synopsis:

“Loaded with graphic violence and sexual content,  Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 American Psycho novel is a darkly satirical first-person account of a slick Manhattan businessman warped by consumer culture into an unrepentant killer who satisfies his most primal urges in a superficial world. The book’s title became synonymous with the worst excesses of yuppie narcissism, greed and ruthlessness. Mary Harron directed a 2000 feature film adaptation that starred Christian Bale. “

Matt Smith Christian Bale American Psycho

Bateman is supposed to have an adonis-like physique and look the part, physically, of a man all women in the 1980s would want to be with and men want to be thus making his sociopathy all the more surprising.  Christian Bale was the perfect choice for the role, so brilliant at chasing hookers with a chainsaw while manically praising the brilliance of Huey Lewis & The News.  Matt Smith?  Well, if it ever grows back completely after he shaved it off for Ryan Goslin’s directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster, Smith certainly has the lush hair for the role.  Physically, though, he doesn’t quite look the part.  Then again, his “Trust me – I’m the Doctor” face might work to the benefit of the show, potentially signaling a slightly different approach to the source material for the musical than director Mary Harron took with the film.

The musical adaptation features a book (i.e., what musicals call their script) by Marvel comics/playwright/staff writer for Glee and Big Love Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and lyrics and music by indie rock troubadour Duncan Sheik, his fourth musical since the off-Broadway breakout hit/Lea Michele-discovering Spring Awakenings in 2007.  With Spring Awakenings, Sheik has proved himself fully capable of tackling dark, non-traditionally-musical-like subject matter (e.g., suicide, masturbation, etc.)  This new American Pyscho musical has been in development since 2008, and finally arrives at a time when Deadline recently reported FX is developing a TV series that will function as a sequel of sorts to American Psycho (technically, there is a film sequel starring Mila Kunis, but the less said about it the better).

Interestingly, Matt Smith’s former Doctor Who co-star Arthur Darvill also took a surprising turn toward musical theater after leaving the show, landing the lead role of Guy in the third Broadway cast of the Tony-award winning Once (a role originated by Glen Hansard on film and then by Steve Kazee in the first off-Broadway cast).  It turned out Darvill could sing.  If you want to see if Matt Smith fares as well then either get yourself to London this winter or….well, it’s live theater, there’s pretty much no other option.

What do you think?  Is this great news … or the greatest news?  Wonder if Smith will muster up a hearty “Geronimo!” while dropping a chainsaw onto a hooker running away from him down a flight of stairs?  Let us know in the comments.

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