Selah Dessert Theater to Present Musical ‘Thrill Me’

STRUTHERS, Ohio – Selah Dessert Theater will bring its first musical to its stage May 11-27 when it presents “Thrill Me.”

The dark piece, written by Stephen Dolginoff, tells the true story of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, two young men from wealthy families who embarked on a crime spree for fun.

John Bearrs and Mitchell Sharp play the men. The play is directed by Mary Ruth Lynn, who also manages the theater.

“This is a new genre for Selah Dessert Theater,” Lynn said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve directed a musical, and this one is a challenge and great fun. It is unexpected. The story is chilling. The music is not the run of the mill musical theater sound.”

Loeb and Leopold, who lived in Chicago in the 1920s, were raised by nannies and never knew the love of caring parents. They met as neighbors and were drawn to each other as both were highly intelligent and looking for what they never found at home.

Loeb led the spree, which started with petty crimes, then arson, and finally murder of a young student.

They were caught, tried and convicted of the murder, which newspapers called the “crime of the century” and labeled the boys as the “Thrill Killers.”

Clarence Darrow, the famed attorney who hailed from Kinsman, Ohio, served as the boys’ attorney and convinced the jury to give them life in prison rather than death. 

The musical focuses on the relationship between the two men and how their manipulation of each other informs their actions. Richard is a narcissist and knows exactly how to play Nathan, who is in love with Richard. Nathan will do anything to get Richard’s affection but, unbeknownst to Richard, is working his own scheme.

The lyrics drive much of the storyline, making the piece operatic in structure but contemporary in its sound.

Anthony Ruggiero is the music director and pianist for the production.

The set, created by Brian Palumbo, consists of multiple levels. Jeffrey Chann is the lighting designer.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. May 11, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27. Tickets are $23 and available at

Tickets include dessert and coffee at intermission.

A premiere night package is available for opening night only and can be reserved on the ticketing site. Pre-show dinner reservations for the rest of the run can be made online.

The theater is located on the second floor of Selah Restaurant, 130 S. Bridge St., and is accessible by stairs only. Assistive listening devices are available upon request.

Pictured at top: John Bearrs and Mitchell Sharp in a scene from “Thrill Me.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.