New Jersey Stage 2015 - Issue 11 - Page 75

In 1924, two wealthy, intelligent college students kidnapped and murdered a teenager in Chicago. The crime and its trial (led by famous defense attorney, Clarence Darrow) captivated the nation’s attention. Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb were the two behind the murder, which was the O.J. Simpson trial of its time. Their ‘complicated’ relationship is explored in the musical Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, which has its New Jersey premiere at Luna Stage in December. Thrill Me takes the audience inside the minds’ of the two 19 year old boys. The play focuses less on the crime and the trial of the century and more on the friendship (platonic and sexual) of Leopold and Loeb. Portraying the duo is Joseph Bigelow and Dean Linnard, both making their Luna Stage debuts. The production is directed by Luna Stage NewJerseyStage.com artistic director Cheryl Katz with musical direction by Andy Peterson. And music is vitally important to the play. A piano player performs live and with much of the play sung, there is music almost throughout. “Nobody ever understood the purpose of the crime,” explained Katz. “Nobody understood why two boys that had everything going for them would do such a random act of violence for no apparent reason. Thrill Me explores that question from a hypothetical standpoint. Nobody knows what these two men said to each other in private, so the play puts forth a hypothesis of why they did this crime.” The two-character play was nominated for a Drama Desk award for Best Musical and has since been translated into 10 languages with over 100 productions in 15 countries. Notable stagings include Los Angeles, 2015 - ISSUE 11 ARTICLES 75