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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Thrill Me, The Leopold and Loeb Story
Initially, Leopold (Stewart W. Calhoun) seems to be the follower, obsessed by his passion for the elegant, icy Loeb (Alex Schemmer), whose beguilingly youthful smile and charismatic energy cloak a psychotic personality. "Everybody Wants Richard" is one of Nathan's first wistful solos. He reluctantly agrees to do anything for Richard in exchange for off-hand sex and, as Richard's appetite for forbidden thrills increases, becomes his literal partner in crime.
In Dolginoff's revisionist twist, Leopold arranges to be caught, under the mistaken illusion that he will have Richard all to himself at last when they share a prison cell for life plus 99 years. The sharp shadowy score is haunting and dramatic. Although there is no 11 o'clock number, "Roadster", in which Loeb seduces Franks into his car, comes closest.
The music is beautiful and a pleasure to listen to, especially by these singers.Dolginoff has a gift for characterization to match his musical talent. Nick DeGruccio's direction deftly catches the nuances and mood swings of the couple, enhanced by Steven Young's lighting design which often keeps the stage deliberately dim.
Since this production has been thoroughly analyzed by us when it opened in New York three years ago (see link below), I'll focus now on the two new elements. Stewart W. Calhoun finds the scheming neediness in Leopold and has a splendid voice that could easily scale much bigger shows than this. Alex Schemmer's Dickie has the perfect decadent 1920s slouch and makes taunting and tormenting Leopold so much fun. He doesn't have as big a voice but what he has is cherce, as Spencer Tracy described Katherine Hepburn's physique. The duets are a perfect blend.
Richard Loeb was murdered in prison and, after some 30 years, Nathan Leopold was released and spent the rest of his life in Puerto Rico, wrote, studied and married the widow of a physician. He died at age 66. There's a play in that somewhere.
For Elyse Sommer's review, with song list, of the York Theater production go here.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide