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Above left: Blake Erickson and Benjamin Giraud in Thrill Me.

Above right: The Margaritas ... Natalie McCormack, Nathalie Cotte and Jackeline Laso.

POSTED: 27 FEBRUARY 2010

Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, by Stephen Dolginoff (A Squabbalogic production)

On the Rocks, featuring the Margaritas (A With a Twist production)

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras | The Seymour Centre, Chippendale, Sydney | Until 07 March

One Mardi Gras in Sydney ... two vastly different shows at the Seymour Centre.

The first, Thrill Me, is a production full of passion ... passion based on a real-life event described as the “crime of the century”.

The year is 1924, the setting Chicago, and two 19-year-olds — Nathan Leopold (Benjamin Giraud) and Richard Loeb (Blake Erickson) — plot a series of crimes culminating in the murder of a young boy.

How did things come to this?

Loeb is obsessed with the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. He has read — and misinterpreted — the German philosopher to further his own ends, his egomaniacal desire for thrills. Nietzsche’s ‘superman’ concept has unhinged Loeb’s already unbalanced ego.

Leopold is a willing accomplice to Loeb’s crimes in return for sexual favours, as specified in their blood contract, a pact typical of their extreme relationship.

The story is told through a series of flashbacks. Opening with Leopold’s parole hearing, the details of the relationship, crime, media attention and subsequent years in prison are disclosed through this mechanism, which is most effective in creating suspense and evolving their fascinating yet disturbing characters.

Much of the dialogue is delivered through song, and Giraud gives a strong performance, both dramatically and musically. The dynamics between Giraud and Erickson are effective in building the two characters.

The score is delivered by a lone piano that subtly accentuates the stage dramatics for the entire performance, which is under the direction of Jay James-Moody.

The second show is anything but subtle. The Margaritas — Natalie McCormack, Jackeline Laso and Nathalie Cotte — obviously know how to flaunt it!

Describing their new show, On the Rocks, as a collision of comedy and cabaret, the trio parody and prance their way through classic songs and dance moves from the ’60s through to the ’80s.

A great introduction to The Margarita’s genre was the David Attenborough parody, with a fabulous ‘bird call’ from McCormack. The girls, dressed in their finest burlesque plumage, shimmied and vied for attention in their ‘natural stage habitat’.

A memorable moment was the geisha rendition of Wuddering Heights by Laso, who delivers a brilliant comic routine combining typical geisha moves (dusty fan in hand) with the vocal weirdness of Kate Bush.

Nathalie Cotte played the audience all night, needing only her elastic lips and big stage presence to keep the laughs coming.

All in all, the performance was terrific, the dancing and singing was tight, and the soundtrack well chosen. Great fun!

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