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Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story - Off Broadway Premiere Musical at the York Theatre

The York Theatre Company (James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director), in association with Jim Kierstead, will present the Off Broadway premiere of Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, a new musical by Stephen Dolginoff based on the infamous 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder case, beginning May 16, 2005, at the Company's home at Saint Peter's, Citigroup Center, 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street). The show, directed by Michael Rupert, with musical direction by Eugene Gwozdz, is scheduled to open on May 26.

Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story is a new musical drama that recounts the chilling tale of the legendary duo who committed one of the most infamous and heinous crimes of the 20th Century. Set in 1924 Chicago, it chronicles the events that led childhood friends Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb to forever be remembered as "the thrill killers." The play premiered at the 2003's Midtown International Theatre Festival, produced by Jim Kierstead, to an extended and sold out run of seven performances. The York production has sets by James Morgan, costumes by Jennifer Paar and lighting by Thom Weaver.

The back story: Nathan Leopold, the nineteen year old son of a millionaire manufacturer, was obsessed with his childhood friend and lover, Richard Loeb, son of a wealthy businessman. Loeb was obsessed with crime and attracted to the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. Together, they created a binding contract in which Leopold would participate in crimes in exchange for sex with Loeb. The petty crimes escalated until finally Loeb decided to commit the perfect murder just to prove that it could be done, believing that legal obligations did not apply to those who approached Nietzche's idea of "the Superman." On May 21, 1924, Leopold and Loeb picked up young Bobby Franks while he was walking home from school, lured him into a car, and brutally killed him. A simple mistake led to their arrest, confession and guilty plea. Their sensational penalty trial was quickly dubbed "The Trial of the Century." The famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, was employed to plead for the life of the two men. Leopold and Loeb were spared the death penalty, thanks to Darrow, and were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story will be in rehearsal 81 years to the month of the time when Leopold and Loeb planned their crime; there will be two performances on Saturday, May 21, 2005, the 81st anniversary of the murder itself (May 21, 1924), with an audience discussion following the Saturday matinee. The show will continue to perform during the time when Leopold & Loeb were caught by the police as their "perfect crime" continued to unravel.

Stephen Dolginoff's previous credits include One Foot Out The Door (Backstage Bistro Award for Outstanding Book, Music and Lyrics), Most Men Are, and a musical version of Jules Verne's classic Journey To The Center Of The Earth, which premiered in Kansas City and was later produced in St Louis followed by a tour and a MAC nominated cast album. His first musical Beauty Sleep was produced by NYU where he received a BFA in Dramatic Writing. He was commissioned to write and compose producer Pierre Cossette's planned Broadway musical The Body Ventura, and is currently writing the musical Panic, the story behind Orson Welles' infamous 'War of the Worlds' radio broadcast. Dolginoff has won seven ASCAPlus Awards for his work in musical theatre.

The York Theatre Company is the only theater in New York City – and one of very few in the world – dedicated to developing and fully producing new musicals, and preserving neglected, notable shows from the past. For more than three decades, York's intimate, imaginative style of producing both original and neglected classic musicals has resulted in critical acclaim and recognition from artists and audiences alike. More than 20 cast recordings from York Theatre Company productions are now available on CD, and commercial transfers of such York productions as The Musical of Musicals – The Musical!, Jolson & Company, Sweeney Todd, and Pacific Overtures have all showcased the importance of the York and its programs. Its hit productions of Souvenir and The Musical of Musicals – The Musical! were developed in the York Theatre Company's Developmental Reading Series, where the current Tony Award-winning Broadway hit, Avenue Q, also started.

THRILL ME will run May 16 to June 25 on the following schedule: Monday through Thursday evenings at 8 pm; Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 pm; Matinees Wednesday at 2:30pm, Saturday at 5:00pm. (Note: Special Sun. performance May 22 at 5:00pm; No Performances Tues. May 17 & Mon. May 23).

Tickets are $55. Student tickets are available on the day of the performance for $20, subject to availability. Tickets are available at Smarttix.com, (212) 868-4444, or in person at the box office on the lower level at Saint Peter's, 619 Lexington Avenue (enter at 54th). For further information, visit www.yorktheatre.org.

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