Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thrill Me.

I have had this blog for a while now and I'm amazed that I haven't talked about Leopold and Loeb...I can go on for hours and hours about them...but I won't.

(I know that I have more important things I could and should be doing right now but I am going to procrastinate a little more and write about some child murderers instead.)

Let me preface this by saying that I am obsessed with Leopold and Loeb. Obsessed. This whole obsession started in the fall of 1999. I was sitting on Tim Finnegan's porch with my friend Mike Root and I heard about this play called "Never the Sinner" that BUA was thinking about doing. Timmy briefly told me the story and I went right home, read about it online, ordered the script and started some very intense research (research that I still do to this day.) I was hooked.

Leopold and Loeb ("L&L" henceforth) were two wealthy, extremely smart young men who had a very peculiar friendship. Leopold was in love with Loeb and Loeb was in love with crime. They would set fires, steal petty things, break windows. They finally decided to do commit the ultimate crime...kidnapping and murder. They created a pact and planned their murder. They killed a little boy named Bobby Franks...for the fun of it. They wanted to prove to themselves that they could commit the "perfect crime" and that they were Ubermensch (supermen) like Nietzsche wrote about. Long story short...they were found out, tried, and committed to life plus 99 years. You can read all about them and the crime here. (I totally gave you a very watered-down version. So watered-down that I'm almost ashamed of myself...but I digress.)

Anyway...I read the play, convinced Javier that I should play Leopold, then booked a flight and a hotel in Chicago (where it all took place.) My friend Christine went with me. It was wonderful.

(I have to digress again. I don't want any of you, dear readers, to think that I admire these murderers. That's not the case. I am an avid reader of true crime...that's why. I am intrigued by true crime. I can't imagine ever doing something like they did but I can't help but read about it. It's kind of like driving pass a car wreck: you just have to look. My obsession was with their story, not with their crime.) Good, I got that "out there".

OK, back to Chicago. I tried to tell Christine that I wanted to go to Chi-town for many reasons: Robie House, Second City, the theatre, the Elbow Room, the Pump Room...but my main reason to go was to "retrace" their steps. To see where they lived. To find some shit out. And I did. (I'll elaborate on this another time. I'll share pictures. I'll bore you to death.)

Well, fast-forwarding a few months: we did the play. Chris Kelly was Loeb, Jack Hunter was Clarence Darrow, I was Leopold. Donn Youngstrom directed. It was great. a few years. I had heard rumblings in chat rooms and forums about a musical version of L&L's story. I think I laughed initially...I couldn't believe somebody was going to write songs about this. I let it go. Then, a few years later, I read that there was indeed a musical about L&L. It had gone through some "try-outs" (I put that in quotes because I don't really know if that's what they were called...they were productions) and had finally moved on to Off-Broadway at The York. It was written by a guy named Stephen Dolginoff. That name wasn't immediately familiar to me but then I realized that he wrote the musical "Most Men Are" that I had seen in Toronto. I was even more intrigued. OK, long story short (again)...I e-mailed Dolginoff and began a pen-pal friendship with him online. We chatted about L&L, his musical, and the fact that he was going to be replacing the Leopold at The York because the show kept extending and extending. I decided that I was going to see it. (Not to mention that Javier and Tony had seen the show and liked it. When they told me that I knew that I wasn't going to miss out.) I went to New York and saw the show (by the way, it's called "Thrill Me") on Stephen's debut performance. I loved it. Oh, wait...I have to digress again...

In between going to Chicago, doing "Never the Sinner", and continuing to research L&L, I also was determined to purchase any and all "memorabilia" as I possibly could. I searched eBay on an almost hourly basis. Well...let me tell you. I got lucky. I bought lobby cards from Compulsion and Rope, I bought newspapers from the time it happened, and I bought Leopold's autobiography Life Plus 99 Years (yup, that's what it's called) SIGNED by Nathan Leopold. I swear on my Grandfather's grave!!! It is signed to Capt. & Mrs. H. H. Caldwell with fond affection, Nathan Leopold. It cost me an arm and a leg but I bought it. I was bidding against the website people (that's the link I put in this post.) I was ecstatic.

Back to "Thrill Me." I went to the show and loved it. Then I met Stephen and Doug Kreeger in the lobby and showed them my book. I got a crowd of people around me and I felt famous. It was great. The final song of the show is "Life Plus 99 Years". It made me smile.

OK...this paragraph is going to be short because I really have to get back to work (although it is an exciting story): Stephen and I became friends and started talking. I told him that I'm an actor too and that I'd love to do the show. We talked for over a year...trying to get somebody to produce it. Finally he sold the show to Dramatists and I convinced the Phoenix to do the show. I am going to play Loeb and Stephen Dolginoff is coming to town to star opposite me in his OWN show. This is very exciting for me. He was nominated for 3 Drama Desk Awards and countless others. "Thrill Me" is being produced all over the world. I can't wait. I am truly thrilled. It will be in June. Yippie. Click here to order the CD.

OK, enough. Like I said, I could rant and rave about this for days...and I should...but I won't.


Breann Root said...

Uncle Joey, why did you not tell me about this? I miss you, Mr. Root misses you, and thats great news for you, congratulations, you have worked very hard and I remember Michael telling me about Leopold and Loeb and how good you were. love you

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your show. Stephen can be insanely difficult to work with. He walked out of the production in Florida (in which he was playing Nathan, yet again) due to "personal reasons" which translates to "I didn't like the production and director."

Michael said...

Congrats! Now get him in touch with me so I can sell Zooma Zooma. :)