It happened in Wicked, with Louise Dearman making history as the first actress to play both starring roles - Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West – now Jo Parsons is doing the same thing and swapping lead roles in the critically acclaimed, award-winning musical Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, as it tours the UK for the very first time, visiting The Old Rep from 22 to 23 May.
Thrill Me, with book, music, and lyrics by Stephen Dolginoff, 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.' It was the final case for crusading defence and human rights lawyer Clarence Darrow, recently played by Kevin Spacey in an acclaimed one-man show at the Old Vic.
Jo Parsons will swap roles and now play Leopold, while Loeb will be played by Ben Woods. Ben takes over from Danny Colligan, who has just made his West End debut in The Book of Mormon.
Told in flashbacks, beginning with a 1958 parole hearing, Thrill Me examines the relationship between Leopold and Loeb – both wealthy, normal and intelligent Chicago students, about to start training to become lawyers. We are taken on a journey of two young men. One, Loeb, who believed he was above the law; obsessed and fuelled by the philosophy of Nietzsche to the point he believed he was a ‘superman’, beyond good and evil. The other – Leopold, a loner - became a willing accomplice, empowering Loeb in his crimes, in return for Richard’s time, attention and love. Together, they both believed they had perpetrated the perfect crime; or was one more certain than the other?
Director, Guy Retallack said:
"The key is in the casting. The two actors have to be convincing as friends, as well as capable of a monstrous crime. As I have kept working on this compelling piece that documents a descent from petty crime to abduction and murder, I am convinced that what makes this musical so compelling is not only the taughtness with which it’s constructed, but more importantly our belief and fascination in the humanity of their relationship, the more we will believe in them, and finally even care about them. I believe this original new departure for the show, the chemistry of Jo Parsons and Ben Woods, with a stunning live piano by Tom Turner, will bring this Faustian musical thriller to vibrant life."
Thrill Me has been captivating audiences since 2003. This production won a prestigious 2014 Bobby Award and the show has a string of awards and nominations to its name, including a nomination for the Whatsonstage.com Best Off-West End Production and 7 Off West End Awards (Offies) nominations for Climar Productions and Guy Retallack’s 2011 UK premiere.
Thrill Me will be playing at The Old Rep on 22 and 23 May. Tickets are just £15, with concessions available at £13. To book, please call the Box Office on 0121 359 9444, or visit www.oldreptheatre.co.uk (booking fees apply).
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