In 1971, the Department of Dramatic Arts at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Arts was established by the renowned "Kru Yai”, Associate Professor Sodsai Pantoomkomol, a National artist recognized for her contributions to performing arts (theatre and television) in 2011. It marked a significant milestone as the first institution of higher education in Thailand to offer courses in Dramatic Arts, covering Acting, Directing, Producing, Theatre Design, Drama Literature, and Stage Management. Over the past 52 years, this department has nurtured numerous talented graduates, who have played pivotal roles in advancing and enriching the performing arts landscape in Thailand. The dedication to preserving and passing on skills, knowledge, and a commitment to excellence is a testament to the department's founder, its alumni, and its current students.
In 2023, the department is proud to present "Thrill Me: The Musical”, running from October 25th to November 5th, 2023, at the Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts, located on the 6th Floor of the Mahachakri Sirindhorn Building within the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University. This musical draws inspiration from a notorious and true crime case that unfolded in Chicago, USA, nearly a century ago in 1924.
"Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story" is an adaptation of the musical play written by Stephen Dolginoff, a renowned American playwright known for his work on several Off-Broadway musicals. The musical delves into the infamous murder case of Bobby Franks, a 14-year-old scion of a wealthy Chicago family who disappeared on his way home from school. The case captured widespread public attention after the Franks family received a substantial ransom letter, ultimately leading to the capture of the perpetrators. It earned notoriety as the "crime of the century" due to its seemingly motiveless nature, committed solely "for the thrill." The culprits behind this shocking crime were two young men, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.
"Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story" offers a modern interpretation of these historical events, exploring character relationships and the enigmatic motives behind the crime. Over the past two decades, this musical has captivated audiences worldwide, with performances in countries such as Australia, Korea, Japan, Germany, Spain, Greece, and now in Thailand, where it is presented by the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University and directed by Passupang Kongbamrung, a lecturer in the Department of Drama Arts. Previous directing credits include "Blink", "The Children’s Hour", "An Inspector Calls", and "The Pillowman".
The Thai translation of the musical's songs was skilfully executed by Thanee Poonsuwan, an accomplished translator known for translating songs in Disney movies like "Disenchanted”, "Encanto”, and "Frozen”, as well as songs in popular musicals like "Miss Saigon." Music and vocal direction for the production are overseen by Associate Professor Dr. Charunee Hongcharu.
The lead roles are portrayed by Guy – Songsin Sirikunarat, who embodies Nathan Leopold and is recognized as a Product Designer, singer, and freelance actor with an impressive track record in musical theatre. Tan – Taofa Maneeprasopchok takes on the role of Richard Loeb, bringing a wealth of experience from various musical works, including "Raya the Musical”, "Sou Si Tai Hao the Musical”, "Mae Nak Phra Khanong the Musical”, "True Blue the Musical”, "Si Pandin the Musical”, "Be Your Size”, and more. The production's pianist is Friend - Warissara Trakulmani.
For over half a century, the Department of Dramatic Arts has adhered to its guiding principle that the art of drama reflects the past, present, and future of humanity's diverse experiences. Theatre serves as a platform for embracing diversity, allowing audiences to explore different paths, perspectives, and ways of existence. Each creative work, although unique, holds intrinsic value within its specific context and environment. The journey of theatre continues, marked by the ongoing pursuit of progress, development, and continuous learning. As the world evolves, the theatre looks forward to a future that grows and adapts with the changing times.
The audience's interest in the theatre remains a reflection of our ability to keep pace with these changes.