The first thing you notice is the music. Vibrant, pulsating music with a driven force
and personality of its own. Music with
an edge that bores down into your very soul. Soon other things catch your attention as well: the magnificent performances, the astounding
story and the river-like fluidity of the production. These elements add up to the stupendous Thrill
Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story
presented by Uptown Players.
Thrill Me was first presented by the off-Broadway
York Theatre Company in 2005. The Book,
Music and Lyrics are by Stephen Dolginoff. The musical has since been presented in several regional
productions. The plot is about the
real-life thrill seekers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb who kill for sport in
1924 Chicago. The only on-stage characters in the musical
are Leopold and Loeb themselves. The
musical contains traditional musical numbers as well as dialogue that is sung.
Chad Peterson gives a chilling portrayal of Leopold, the man
coerced into crime by Loeb, a man he both fears and admires. Mr. Peterson offers a portrait of quiet
determination so apt that were immediately drawn into his plight. His dialogue and face painted a riveting
portrait of a man who was driven to crime out of love for another. Mr. Peterson also possesses a singing voice
that put genuine emotion into the lyrics which caused the character of Leopold to
obtain more shading. Songs such as "Why"
and "Thrill Me" were acted and sung with gentle force and a quiet intensity
that embellished the shocking story.
Kevin Moore's portrayal of Loeb was also
masterful. Mr. Moore presented a
character wrapped in sin, lies and deceit that somehow Leopold found attractive.
He conveyed much of this through subtle gestures and facial expressions and
rapid-fire personality changes. It was
incredible to watch him shift gears from bravado to fear to logical precision
on the turn of a dime. All of these
emotions were on view during his standout number toward the end of the musical,
Bruce R. Coleman, the director of Thrill Me, has
steered all these elements together into a production that has continuous
movement and frequent bursts of frightening energy. Rather than focus on the sensational aspects
of the story, Mr. Coleman gives us a story about a man with a criminal mind,
his lonely companion, and the emotional havoc that ensues. The climatic moment when Leopold makes a
startling confession to Loeb contained enough voltage to ignite a forest.
At the performance I attend, the piano was played by Kevin
Gunter. Mr. Gunter clearly understood
the requirements of the music in Thrill Me and responded with the proper
wistful accompaniment. The muted
costumes by Mr. Coleman and moody lighting by Adam Hughes sharply added to the
effectiveness of the piece.
The action in Thrill Me will keep you riveted to the
stage at all times. The charged music,
performances, and direction add up to a one-of-a-kind theatrical
experience. Attend Thrill Me—and
learn for yourself what a genuine thrill is all about.
Thrill Me continues through
November 12. For more information,
please visit the Uptown Players website.
Please Note: Thrill Me is intended for mature audiences only.
Peterson, Kevin Moore
Photo Credit: Mark