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Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story - actor swaps lead roles

Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story

Casting news

JO PARSONS is swapping lead roles in the critically acclaimed, award-winning musical Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, which tours the UK this spring and summer.

The tour, which follows Thrill Me‘s critically acclaimed, award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe run, kicks off at Greenwich Theatre, where it plays from Wednesday, April 8 to Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Jo Parsons will now play Nathan, while Richard will be played by Ben Woods, who takes over from Danny Colligan, who recently made his West End debut in The Book of Mormon.

Director of Thrill Me, Guy Retallack, said: “We knew Jo Parsons was returning again as Richard Loeb, so we were looking for a new Nathan, someone to replace Danny, but eventually having searched for weeks, although we’d found a number of very promising actors, the pairing still wasn’t right.

“Perhaps after directing three different productions to date, I knew too much about these personalities, and was being too exacting, but the balance between these characters, their statuses, their desires is a very precise and essential mixture. 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.

“When we originally cast Jo Parsons we spent some time seeing him as both Richard and Nathan, (unusually he was very adept at both) something that at that time we found to be unusual, we finally realised if Jo were to play Nathan this time, not only would this make our casting job easier, as we had a number of possible Richards, but we’d be starting afresh, and with a brand new cast, which is something I always prefer.

“When Ben Woods walked in to audition I knew we’d found a Richard with the necessary authority and charisma. 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, 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, currently being played by Kevin Spacey in an acclaimed one-man show at the Old Vic.

This is not the first time that an actor has swapped roles in a musical. 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.

Following the The Greenwich Theatre dates, Thrill Me will tour to The Lowry Salford (May 8 and 9); Old Rep, Birmingham (May 22 and 23); The Mumford Theatre, Cambridge (June 3); Eden Court, Inverness (June 5); Square Chapel, Halifax (June 6); and Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon (June 7), with more dates to be added.

Read more about Thrill Me.