"Thrill Me," the current production at the Short North Stage, tells the story of two young, highly-intelligent and wealthy gay men who committed a "thrill killing" in 1924. The murder captured headlines as "the crime of the century" and became a landmark trial (featuring a particularly influential summation by Clarence Darrow).

"Thrill Me," the current production at the Short North Stage, tells the story of two young, highly-intelligent and wealthy gay men who committed a "thrill killing" in 1924. The murder captured headlines as "the crime of the century" and became a landmark trial (featuring a particularly influential summation by Clarence Darrow).

But "Thrill Me" - running through June 21 - isn't telling the familiar story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. This production is an intimate look - fictional, but based on many historical records, including an autobiography by Leopold - at the two men who committed this heinous crime. Featuring only Leopold (Luke Stewart) and Loeb (Evin Hoffman) for the entire musical, the audience gets inside the minds of the killers. It's unsettling, but it's also a compelling examination of ego and hubris.

"What leads them to the crimes they commit is some idea that their intelligence and good upbringing is what made them think these crimes were OK. It's what gave them their justification," said Stewart, a theater student at Otterbein who's performing in his third Short North Stage production. "They got into the philosophy of Nietzsche, his ideas about the supermen, and they took that saw themselves as that superman above society. One who can do no wrong because they are there to raise society up to their level."

While philosophical "ubermensch" may have given these characters personal justification, it was their relationship that gives "Thrill Me" both its heart and its conflict.

"I would say Richard cares very much for Nathan, even if he doesn't show it. It was an attempt to not be emotionally compromised by anyone. Because of his relationship with his father, I think he only showed his emotions to those he could control," said Hoffman of his character. "Throughout the rehearsal process we discussed how you can manipulate someone. You can manipulate them sexually, physical and intellectually. It's like this little game of chess we're playing with each other, manipulate them so they'd think they'd won."

"Thrill Me excels by not focusing on the history of Leopold and Loeb, instead delving into the humanity, or lack thereof, in these killers - a completely exotic perspective.