AN UNLIKELY ‘LOVE STORY’ UNFOLDS VIA THE TRIAL OF THE 1924 ‘CRIME OF THE CENTURY’ AS NJT STAGES “NEVER THE SINNER”

(St. Louis, February 19, 2017) – As the New Jewish Theatre continues its 20th Season with John Logan’s Never the Sinner from March 16 – April 2, we bring to the stage a uniquely chilling love story between two brilliant and privileged young men as they are tried for what became known in 1924 as the “crime of the century.”  This exquisite Off Broadway hit explores the complex relationship between these two who longed to create a private world of fevered intellect and romantic passion.

Chicago, May 21, 1924. Nathan Leopold Jr., age 18, and Richard Loeb, age 19, brutally murdered 14 year old Bobby Franks and were quickly apprehended when Leopold’s glasses were found near the corpse. They were defended by Clarence Darrow who pleaded eloquently against capital punishment. But why would wealthy young men murder an innocent boy? What demons lurked behind Loeb’s flashing good looks? Behind Leopold’s saturnine intellect?

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From L to R: Pete Winfrey, Jack Zanger; Photo by Eric Woolsey

Infatuated with Nietzsche`s philosophy of the übermensch, the two believed that they had the potential to stun the world by each becoming a new kind of man: blissfully removed from the moral and social imperatives of the world, fully sovereign, capable of anything. Including, naturally, crime. This, at a precariously vulnerable time in their lives. Logan suggests that Leopold or Loeb could have been anyone who wanted to prove everlasting devotion, or who looked at a loved one and thought “I’d die for you … I’d kill for you.” This is a love story set to themes of crime and punishment, the press, the times, humanism, Nietzsche’s philosophy and the end of the jazz age.

These two teen millionaires living aimless, privileged lives in Chicago horrified America with their brutal, seemingly random killing of a 14 year old boy. Logan’s brilliant play about the infamous case, known in its time as the “crime of the century” and still one of the most notorious, introduces us to the young Leopold and Loeb, considering themselves Nietzsche’s “supermen,” who decided to commit the “perfect murder,” just for the thrill of it.

Rick Dildine directs the production which features, Will Bonfiglio, Maggie Conroy, John Flack*, John Reidy, Eric Dean White*, Pete Winfrey and Jack Zanger. Never the Sinner will run March 16 – April 2 in the JCC’s Wool Studio Theatre, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. There will be post-show talkbacks with legal experts after the March 23 and March 30 performances. Tickets are $39.50 – $43.50 and are available at newjewishtheatre.org or 314-442-3283