From SpongeBob to serial killer: Kyle Dalsimer on his role in ‘American Psycho’ at Monumental Theatre

The Helen Hayes Award–winning actor shares how he prepares.

Kyle Dalsimer is an award-winning actor currently starring as the investment banker and serial killer Patrick Bateman in Monumental Theatre’s production of the musical American Psycho. I had a chance to chat with Dalsimer about his upcoming role, his approaches to taking on a new role, and what to expect from the show.

Dalsimer has had a fairly nontraditional intro to theater, having worked in politics in DC for a year and studying at Ryder University, Penn State, and Columbia University. After a few years of university studies during the pandemic, he was cast in Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s 2022 production of SpongeBob SquarePants, for which he won a Helen Hayes Award for Lead Performer in a Musical. Since then he has also performed at Arena Stage (Ride the Cyclone) and Riverside Center for the Performing Arts (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), as well as in several productions regionally and off-Broadway. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Kyle Dalsimer. Photo courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company.

Julian: So, where are you living now?

Kyle: I’m from Annandale, Virginia. I live in New York now, but whenever I am back in the area, I get the privilege of staying at my mom’s house and hanging out with her and catching up. I was born and raised here, so it’s good to come back now and again and spend some time with her and walk around the old stomping grounds.

Congratulations on the Helen Hayes Award. How did you prepare to play the role you won it for, SpongeBob SquarePants?

Among the different schools of thought in acting, there’s the thought that you bring yourself to the character — you find out where you’re similar to the character and you build upon that. Then there’s people who use repetitions to find the character. There’s people who use substitutions, things of that nature. And I try to pick and pull from everywhere and expand my tool belt so I have as many things to use as possible. But what I found with SpongeBob was thinking more about, How am I similar to this character? It wasn’t: bring Kyle to SpongeBob. It was: “We’re going to be SpongeBob. Now what does that mean?”

I’m very big on research. I watched the [SpongeBob SquarePants] TV show, to get some background, which is the baseline; but I also watch nature documentaries, to see how underwater creatures move about in that space. I think of it like an iceberg: There’s what you see at the top, and then there’s the stuff that you wouldn’t notice — or that wouldn’t be immediately apparent. That’s what I’m most excited about in my work in general.

This next role, in American Psycho at Monumental Theatre, how has the research looked for Patrick Bateman?

Oh my goodness, this is the most fun that I’ve had researching a character by a mile because there’s so much to him. You can look at one little instance and you can go, “Well, now why would he do that? He is such an anomaly.” He’s such a strange individual, which is putting it lightly. I mean, he brutally murders people and enjoys it.

No one’s going to walk out after seeing this show and go: “Man, that Patrick Bateman was misunderstood.” But I also know that as an actor it’s my job to try and humanize him, to create that level of humanity where in a sense my goal is to get people to look at him differently.

I started doing this thing where I would sit on the subway and think Patrick thoughts. I would just look at people and judge them the way that Patrick would judge them. And it got to the point one evening where I started having thoughts and I went, I need to take a step back because that’s scary.

Mind you, I’m someone raised with Quaker values. I am a lifelong pacifist. And frankly, in that moment it was terrifying to me how quickly and how easily [I could think] angry and hateful thoughts.

I mean, boo-hoo me. But I’ve got to take active steps. There are these exercises that I do after rehearsal and performances that I’ll be doing to physically remove that energy, that emotion, from myself — or else I think I’ll be a very, very sad person for a while. Because at his core, that’s what Patrick is. He’s miserable, and it’s heartbreaking.

What is it like working with Michael Windsor, the director of American Psycho?

I have been a fan of Michael Windsor for a while. I thought that his production of tick, tick…BOOM! was one of the most brilliant things that I have seen on a DC stage. He has such a unique vision and voice. I love watching him process things and seeing the gears turn — the amount of play he’s willing to do and the amount of exploration of ideas, the open dialogue we’ve been able to have.

I’m not going to spoil anything, but this production [of American Pycho] is not going to be your typical theatergoing experience.

When it comes to the world we live in and the kind of characters that we are introducing into the world, how do you feel this role or this production is necessary for our world today?

Oh, I think it is critically, critically necessary. There is a whole subsection online of people, usually young men around my age, who lionize these figures in the media who are inherently cautionary tales — Patrick Bateman, the Wolf of Wall Street character, Tony Soprano. These guys fundamentally misunderstand the thesis of the art. They treat these characters as heroes.  In a conversation that Michael and I had before rehearsal started, he brought up the weird obsession in online media with people like Patrick Bateman, with these narcissistic, apathetic, dangerous individuals.

At its core, I think that American Psycho tells a story that feels like American commercialization and the idea of branding — a hyper focusing on products and things of that nature to an insane degree, and that’s scary.

What’s the next ideal role for you? Like what would you like to do in a dream role?

I made my professional debut less than two years ago, and since then I have been incredibly fortunate to be working fairly regularly. I’ve been able to originate roles in workshops. I’ve been able to play dream roles. I’ve been able to take on projects I never even thought of. The next project for me is I want to find characters that excite, characters that I don’t think are easy to understand. I want to go “What the hell is his deal?” That’s really exciting for me.

American Psycho plays June 28 to July 21, 2024, presented by Monumental Theatre Company performing at Ainslie Arts Center on the campus of Episcopal High School, 3900 West Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA. Tickets are $45 (for either immersive seating at a booth or traditional theater seating) and may be purchased online. A limited number of pay-what-you-will tickets are available for all performances. Visit for more information.


About the Wendi Winters Memorial Series: DC Theater Arts has partnered with the Wendi Winters Memorial Foundation to honor the life and work of Wendi Winters, the DC Theater Arts writer who died in the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 28, 2018. To honor Wendi’s legacy, the Wendi Winters Memorial Foundation has funded the Wendi Winters Memorial Series, monthly articles to be produced by DC Theater Arts to bring attention to theater companies and theater practitioners in our region who engage in exemplary work that makes our community a better place. The centerpiece of these articles is a series we are calling “The Companies We Keep,” articles offering an in-depth look at one local theater company each month. In these times of division and conflict, DC Theater Arts chooses to celebrate those who do good.

For more information on DC Theater Arts’ Wendi Winters Memorial Series, check out this article graciously published by our friends at District Fray Magazine


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