NEW Yorker Stephen Dolginoff's murder musical Thrill Me: The Leopold And Loeb Story has been performed in 150 productions, in 16 countries and ten languages.

From Monday, Pick Me Up Theatre will perform the two-hander in its York premiere at the York Medical Society premises, in Stonegate, with a cast of George Stagnell and Sam Hird.

"The show has been running for ten years in Seoul, South Korea; it's had four years in Tokyo and is coming back for a fifth later this year," says Dolginoff.

"It's been done in Czech, Greek, German, Dutch and Chinese – two years in Shanghai – so I've been very lucky and very surprised, especially by how Asian audiences have been so interested. I never imagined it being so successful, but I've been thrilled by it, and I've enjoyed seeing productions in Seoul, Tokyo and London."

Stagnell and Hird, who decided they "had to do it" after seeing Dolginoff’s "astonishing musical" at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe, will play Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, the so-called “thrill killers” who murdered a young boy in 1924 in an attempt to commit the perfect crime.

Dolginoff’s show examines the relationship between the two wealthy and highly intelligent teenage Chicago law students: Loeb, who is obsessed by the philosophy of Nietzsche and believes himself a “Superman” above the law and the rest of society, and Leopold, who in turn is obsessed with Loeb and becomes his willing accomplice, prepared to do anything for him in return for his love and attention.

York Press:

Thrill Me writer Stephen Dolginoff

"I think people of all cultures and nations can relate to the love story at its heart, giving yourself over to someone where you're so enraptured that you do something you wouldn't normally do, and that's what makes it universal," says Dolginoff. "That's the story I wanted to tell, though I didn't initially see it crossing nations and boundaries, but I kept it simple, putting the murder more in the background. That's the plot but it's not the story here!"

Loeb and Leopold's story is in the national psyche in America, but less so among young people, the writer suggests. "They hear the names and know they were bad guys but Loeb and Leopold are not as well known as Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone or Jack The Ripper, and that was the case for me too until I did this show," says Dolginoff.

Why turn the Leopold and Loeb story into a musical? "My training is in music and musical writing, and anything I write it's going to be a musical," says Dolginoff. "Besides, I'm undaunted by any subject and I'm drawn to the dark side.

"I knew I didn't want to write Twenties music but music that adds to the drama, as you can get into their psyche, their soul and their thoughts with a song. You can go deep into a person's mind, and what I love about about songs is that they reach the emotional heights when there's nothing left to say unless you sing, and so you sing the remaining thoughts.

"It's a balance you have to achieve: what's going to be said; what's going to be sung."

Pick Me Up Theatre presents Thrill Me: The Leopold And Loeb Story at York Medical Society, Stonegate, York, January 15 to 18, 7.30pm. Box office: pickmeuptheatre.com

York Press:

Did you know?

Stephen Dolginoff played Nathan Leopold "several times" in the New York Off Broadway production of his musical Thrill Me: The Leopold And Loeb Story. Here he is pictured in the role in 2005.