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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Tandem presents thrilling Leopold and Loeb musical

The two-person cast of "Thrill Me" allows the cast to focus on their performances. Photo courtesy In Tandem Theatre.

Two murderers seem to be unlikely stars of a musical. But In Tandem’s last show of the season is an unlikely sort of musical.

“Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story” opens April 29 at 8 p.m. at In Tandem Theatre, 628 N. 10th St.

The musical drama centers on the true story of the 1924 murder of a young man by lovers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, who sought to commit “the perfect crime,” just to see if they could get away with it.

While Leopold is initially hesitant to become a part of the crime, his desire to be with Loeb drives him to participate, under the promise that the two won’t be caught. When their plan starts to fall apart, the duo struggles to keep their relationship and alibis together.

According to Chris Flieller, one of the co-founders of In Tandem and the director of “Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story,” said the murder musical is nothing like what the company has done before.

“It certainly is not your average musical drama. It’s really only two guys, Loeb and Leopold, and a piano,” Flieller said. “It’s written in such a way where it’s really compelling.”

In order to accurately tell Leopold and Loeb’s story, Stephen Dolginoff, the musical’s writer, composer and lyricist, dove into all the material regarding the pair, including the trial transcripts that became available in 1996.

Now, at In Tandem, the storytelling is left to Adam Estes and Joe Fransee, who portray Leopold and Loeb, respectively.

Though being such an integral part of the two-person musical can be challenging, Estes said he believes it to be exhilarating as well.

“I only get to leave the stage for a three-minute song midway through the show,” Estes said. “It’s like jumping on a freight train already in motion; once the play starts it just goes!”

Estes said he believes getting inside the mind of the murderous Leopold is what makes this musical different from other musical dramas.

“I think playing a murderer is all about obsession. I have to imagine something that is so captivating and necessary that nothing else matters, right and wrong is no longer in sight,” Estes said. “It’s just you and your desire.”

Since the drama is also a musical, it features 17 songs that help push the story forward. But the music found in this play isn’t composed of happy, upbeat dance numbers, like many musicals are.

“There is just something about the music in this piece that makes it special,” Estes said. “It gives the play a sense of immediacy and drives the story all the way to the end.”

Flieller said having only two performers to work with has allowed them to focus on the music and acting in a way most other productions couldn’t.

“Having a small cast gives you a lot of time to work with the actors and kind of shape everything just to the exact way you want things,” Flieller said.

The cast isn’t the only thing that’s smaller than normal in “Thrill Me.” Flieller said the set was built to be minimalist in nature, allowing audience members to use their own imagery to create the scene in their mind.

“We’re a small company and we are really are into the storytelling aspect of theatre over here,” Flieller said. “For this story the charm of the piece and the theatricality is that you get to see the actors bring the piece alive in front of your eyes.”

In Tandem Theatre’s production of “Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story” will run from April 29 to May 15 at the Tenth Street Theatre, 628 N. 10th St. Tickets are $20 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and matinees, and $25 for Friday and Saturday night shows. Students and seniors can receive a 10 percent discount on tickets, and rush tickets at half price can be purchased 15 minutes before showtime (subject to availability).

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