Thrill Me

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Thrill Me_table_infobox_0

Thrill MeThrill Me_header_cell_0_0_0
MusicThrill Me_header_cell_0_1_0 Stephen DolginoffThrill Me_cell_0_1_1
LyricsThrill Me_header_cell_0_2_0 Stephen DolginoffThrill Me_cell_0_2_1
BookThrill Me_header_cell_0_3_0 Stephen DolginoffThrill Me_cell_0_3_1
BasisThrill Me_header_cell_0_4_0 Leopold and Loeb murderThrill Me_cell_0_4_1
ProductionsThrill Me_header_cell_0_5_0 2003 Midtown Int'l Theater Festival

2005 Off-Broadway, various regionalThrill Me_cell_0_5_1

Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story is a musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Stephen Dolginoff. Thrill Me_sentence_0

It is based on the true story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the so-called "thrill killers" who murdered a young boy in 1924 in order to commit "the perfect crime." Thrill Me_sentence_1

The story is told in flashbacks, beginning with a 1958 parole hearing. Thrill Me_sentence_2

The show premiered with a small production at the 2003 Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City. Thrill Me_sentence_3

It was then staged as a larger Off-Broadway production in 2005 by the York Theatre Company in association with Jim Kierstead. Thrill Me_sentence_4

Since then, Thrill Me was published in the United States by Dramatists Play Service, and in the UK by Samuel French Ltd. recorded on CD by Original Cast Records, and has been staged in a variety of US and international cities. Thrill Me_sentence_5

Production history Thrill Me_section_0

The original production at New York City's 2003 Midtown International Theatre Festival was directed by Martin Charnin. Thrill Me_sentence_6

It was then staged for a limited run off-Broadway by the not-for-profit York Theatre Company (James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director) and Jim Kierstead, opening on May 16, 2005 and extended through August 21. Thrill Me_sentence_7

Directed by Michael Rupert, the production featured author Stephen Dolginoff as Leopold and Doug Kreeger as Loeb. Thrill Me_sentence_8

Stephen Bogardus, John McMartin, and Rupert himself were heard in voice-overs. Thrill Me_sentence_9

Shonn Wiley replaced Kreeger late in the run. Thrill Me_sentence_10

Matt Bauer opened in the role of Leopold. Thrill Me_sentence_11

The musical has had over 150 productions in 16 countries and 10 languages; and has been performed at regional theatres throughout the U.S., with Dolginoff appearing as Leopold in productions staged in Seattle, and Buffalo. Thrill Me_sentence_12

Internationally, the musical has been produced in Seoul, South Korea (in Korean), Athens, Greece (in Greek), Melbourne, Australia, Tokyo, Japan (in Japanese), Madrid, Spain (in Spanish), Datteln, Germany (in German) Belgium (in Dutch), England, Scotland, Austria, Canada, Argentina, China, and the Czech Republic Thrill Me_sentence_13

A recording with Kreeger and Dolginoff was released by Original Cast Records in April 2006. Thrill Me_sentence_14

A major Los Angeles production featured Alex Schemmer and Stewart W. Calhoun at the Hudson Backstage Theatre. Thrill Me_sentence_15

A new professional production opened in February 2010 at the Seymour Centre in Sydney, Australia. Thrill Me_sentence_16

The production featured Benjamin Giraud as Leopold, Blake Erickson as Loeb as well as the voices of Jason Langley, Jennifer Vuletic, and Barry Crocker. Thrill Me_sentence_17

A London Fringe production featuring Jye Frasca and George Maguire as Leopold & Loeb along with the voices of Patricia Quinn, Lee Mead and Les Dennis opened in April 2011 at the Tristan Bates Theatre and transferred to the West End's Charing Cross Theatre in May 2011 for a 4-week limited engagement. Thrill Me_sentence_18

A revival at the Greenwich Theatre took place in April, 2015 prior to a UK Tour; followed by a production in 2017 which played London and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Thrill Me_sentence_19

The Canadian premiere was presented by Fighting Chance Productions in Vancouver, BC. Thrill Me_sentence_20

Directed by Ryan Mooney with music direction by Alison Dalton it featured Michael Gill and Braedon Cox who were nominated for Ovation Awards for their performances as well as winning Theatre BC awards for Best Lead Males. Thrill Me_sentence_21

The show ran at the Shop Theatre in November 2012. Thrill Me_sentence_22

A subsequent Canadian production was presented by Capricorn 9 Productions. Thrill Me_sentence_23

Produced and directed by Larry Westlake at the intimate Red Sandcastle Theatre in Toronto, it ran a limited engagement from July 12 to 26, 2013. Thrill Me_sentence_24

In 2017, Stephen Dolginoff and Doug Kreeger reprised their original roles of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb in a special revival of Thrill Me. Thrill Me_sentence_25

In 2019, The Hope Theatre staged Thrill Me for their 10th in-house production. Thrill Me_sentence_26

The show was nominated for Best Set Design at the Off West End Awards and both Bart Lambert (Nathan) and Jack Reitman (Richard) won Best Male Performance in a Musical. Thrill Me_sentence_27

Plot summary Thrill Me_section_1

It is 1958 at Joliet Prison, Illinois, where Nathan "Babe" Leopold faces the Parole Board for the fifth time. Thrill Me_sentence_28

He tells them the facts of the "crime of the century" that sent him to prison thirty-five years earlier ("Why"). Thrill Me_sentence_29

But this time he reveals more than ever, hoping it will lead to his release. Thrill Me_sentence_30

In his memory, he goes back to 1924 Chicago, where, as a nineteen-year-old boy, he anxiously meets up with Richard Loeb, a classmate with whom he has shared friendship, sex and participation in minor crimes. Thrill Me_sentence_31

Richard, who has been away at college, treats Nathan indifferently. Thrill Me_sentence_32

Nathan begs to renew their relationship before separating again after the summer to attend different law schools ("Everybody Wants Richard"). Thrill Me_sentence_33

Richard relents and allows Nathan to join in his activity for the evening – setting an abandoned warehouse on fire. Thrill Me_sentence_34

In front of the blaze ("Nothing Like a Fire"), which arouses Richard, Nathan finally gets what he wants. Thrill Me_sentence_35

The next day, Nathan implores Richard, who is voraciously reading Nietzsche, to stop the criminal activity. Thrill Me_sentence_36

Instead Richard, now empowered by the theory of the Superman, threatens to drop Nathan completely unless they create "A Written Contract" detailing that Richard will satisfy Nathan's sexual needs only in exchange for Nathan's expertise as his accomplice in petty crimes. Thrill Me_sentence_37

Reluctantly, Nathan agrees. Thrill Me_sentence_38

They sign in blood and their crime spree continues until Richard fails to live up to his end of the agreement ("Thrill Me"). Thrill Me_sentence_39

Richard explains that he is bored with the misdemeanors and wants to commit a "superior" crime: the murder of a young boy ("The Plan") and a phony ransom scheme after the killing. Thrill Me_sentence_40

Richard insists that their intellect and meticulous plotting will prevent them from being caught. Thrill Me_sentence_41

Nathan has no choice but to agree or risk Richard's wrath. Thrill Me_sentence_42

Back in 1958 at Joliet before the Parole Board, Nathan explains his feelings ("Way Too Far") as he recalls how Richard prepared the murder weapons and supplies: rope, a crowbar and a bottle of acid. Thrill Me_sentence_43

Richard lures the victim by promising a ride in his "Roadster". Thrill Me_sentence_44

While cleaning up the murder scene, Richard extols the virtues of being "Superior" to a shaken Nathan. Thrill Me_sentence_45

Back at Richard's house they compose the bogus "Ransom Note" and proceed with their plans. Thrill Me_sentence_46

The next day, the newspapers reveal that, despite their careful planning, the body has been found. Thrill Me_sentence_47

As a few more days go by, Nathan's missing eyeglasses are discovered near the scene of the crime. Thrill Me_sentence_48

While Nathan panics, Richard tries to calm him ("My Glasses/Just Lay Low") over the phone. Thrill Me_sentence_49

When the glasses are eventually traced to Nathan, Richard helps him concoct an emergency alibi and coaches him in how to answer the cops ("I'm Trying to Think"). Thrill Me_sentence_50

After Nathan is successful with the police, Richard declares their relationship over so he can protect his future as a lawyer. Thrill Me_sentence_51

He reminds Nathan that everything would have been fine if the glasses hadn't been dropped. Thrill Me_sentence_52

Feeling betrayed, Nathan cuts a deal with prosecutors, turning in Richard in exchange for a lighter sentence. Thrill Me_sentence_53

When arrested, Richard realizes there is no way out and works his charms on Nathan ("Keep Your Deal With Me") by convincing him to give up the deal and accept the same punishment. Thrill Me_sentence_54

While awaiting the penalty trail in his jail cell, Richard doesn't realize Nathan can hear him muttering to himself that he is truly "Afraid" despite his strong façade. Thrill Me_sentence_55

Thanks to the cunning strategies of their lawyer, Clarence Darrow, they escape the death penalty and are sentenced to prison. Thrill Me_sentence_56

Behind bars, Nathan finally reveals his own shocking plan: fearing the loss of Richard, he went along with the murder but stayed one step ahead the entire time, even deliberately planting his glasses, knowing that all this would ensure his desire to be together forever, or at least for "Life Plus 99 Years". Thrill Me_sentence_57

Now that the whole truth has finally been exposed, back at Joliet prison Nathan is granted parole. Thrill Me_sentence_58

It is a bittersweet victory; since Richard was murdered by another inmate years before, Nathan must face the outside world alone ("Finale"). Thrill Me_sentence_59

Song list Thrill Me_section_2

Thrill Me_unordered_list_0

  • PreludeThrill Me_item_0_0
  • Why- NathanThrill Me_item_0_1
  • Everybody Wants Richard- NathanThrill Me_item_0_2
  • Nothing Like a Fire- Richard and NathanThrill Me_item_0_3
  • A Written Contract- Richard and NathanThrill Me_item_0_4
  • Thrill Me- Nathan and RichardThrill Me_item_0_5
  • The Plan- Richard and NathanThrill Me_item_0_6
  • Way Too Far- NathanThrill Me_item_0_7
  • Roadster- RichardThrill Me_item_0_8
  • Superior- Nathan and RichardThrill Me_item_0_9
  • Ransom Note- Richard and NathanThrill Me_item_0_10
  • My Glasses/Just Lay Low- Nathan and RichardThrill Me_item_0_11
  • I'm Trying to Think- Richard and NathanThrill Me_item_0_12
  • Way Too Far (reprise)- NathanThrill Me_item_0_13
  • Keep Your Deal With Me- Richard and NathanThrill Me_item_0_14
  • Afraid- RichardThrill Me_item_0_15
  • Life Plus 99 Years/Finale- Nathan and RichardThrill Me_item_0_16

Critical reception Thrill Me_section_3

The piece garnered some very positive reviews. Thrill Me_sentence_60

At, John Kenrick observed, "With its two character format and intimate physical production, Thrill Me looks and feels like a chamber opera, but the music is very much in a contemporary musical theatre idiom. Thrill Me_sentence_61

It is damned hard to make such material sing, but Stephen Dolginoff succeeds brilliantly. Thrill Me_sentence_62

His sparing use of humor in this piece is unusually effective, as is his refusal to stoop to titillation or true crime story clichés." Thrill Me_sentence_63

The New York Times wrote, "The story is familiar, the script and lyrics are not especially innovative, but somehow... Dolginoff's pocket musical about the Leopold and Loeb murder case lands like a well-placed punch, arresting and a bit breathtaking.... Credit [the] lean approach to the storytelling.... Others have told the tale in plays and films, but there is something brazenly satisfying about Mr. Dolginoff's rendition.... [It]'s a reminder that evil often looks and sounds beautiful." Thrill Me_sentence_64

The Hollywood Reporter said "Stephen Dolginoff has created a dark little entertainment told in flashbacks that combines the extravagant emotions and ensemble couplings of verismo opera (complete with feverish kisses and embraces) with musical sounds and styles drawn from Broadway and the bittersweet ballads of Franz Schubert and Kurt Weill". Thrill Me_sentence_65

The Los Angeles Times wrote "A hit off-Broadway, Stephen Dolginoff's two-character musical Thrill Me delves into the distinctive pathology of the youths' relationship, a homosexual attraction that devolved into a master-slave dynamic of deadly proportions. Thrill Me_sentence_66

Now in its Los Angeles premiere at the Hudson Backstage, Thrill Me proves a propitious debut for the Havok Theatre Company. Thrill Me_sentence_67

Awards and nominations Thrill Me_section_4

Thrill Me_unordered_list_1

  • Drama Desk Award for Best Musical (nominee)Thrill Me_item_1_17
  • Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Score (nominee)Thrill Me_item_1_18
  • Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical (nominee)Thrill Me_item_1_19
  • ASCAP Music Award (winner)Thrill Me_item_1_20
  • Los Angeles Ovation Award for Best Musical-Intimate Theatre (nominee)Thrill Me_item_1_21
  • Los Angeles Garland Award honorable mention for Best Music & LyricsThrill Me_item_1_22
  • London Awards nomination for Best Off-West End ProductionThrill Me_item_1_23
  • London Offie Award nomination for Best New MusicalThrill Me_item_1_24

References and notes Thrill Me_section_5

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Me.