The cast of Jonathan Logan’s “Never the Sinner” includes: (foreground) Rupert Hinton, left, as defense lawyer Clarence Darrow and Max Tootleman as Robert Crowe, the state's attorney; (middle row) Patrick Martin, left, as Leopold and E. Lukas DiGiacomo as Loeb; (back row, from left) reporters Christan Ellis, Fransico Javier Estrada, Amy Annucci and Pierce Hittelman.
The cast of Jonathan Logan’s “Never the Sinner” includes: (foreground) Rupert Hinton, left, as defense lawyer Clarence Darrow and Max Tootleman as Robert Crowe, the state’s attorney; (middle row) Patrick Martin, left, as Leopold and E. Lukas DiGiacomo as Loeb; (back row, from left) reporters Christan Ellis, Fransico Javier Estrada, Amy Annucci and Pierce Hittelman.

It’s Chicago circa 1924 and the grisly murder of a 14-year-old boy has been discovered. Two handsome, wealthy college students are accused of the crime.

The Academic Theatre Program at Mercer County Community College presents John Logan’s provocative 1999 play, Never the Sinner, on Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.

The drama unfolds at MCCC’s Studio Theatre, located next to Kelsey Theatre, on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.

Billed as “The Trial of the Century” and fueled by a voracious press, the sensational case against Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb has remained a source of fascination almost 100 years later. Set in a courtroom with flashbacks that shed light on the men behind the crime, the play’s central questions loom large: How could two bright young men with promising futures commit a brutal crime as an intellectual exercise? Could the adventure of committing the murder truly trump their humanity?

“I wanted our students to engage with post-modern literature,” Jody Gazenbeek-Person, theater program coordinator, said. “At the same time, this play provides them an opportunity to work with historical figures instead of fictional characters, allowing them to do research on their characters. Never the Sinner was the first famous ‘thrill kill’ and the first time that Freudian analysis entered the court room in a significant way.”

The show features Patrick Martin of Hamilton as Leopold; E. Lukas DiGiacomo of Lawrenceville as Loeb; and, in a special appearance, Rupert Hinton of Princeton as defense attorney Clarence Darrow. Max Tootleman of East Windsor is Robert Crowe, the state’s attorney. The reporters are played by Amy Annucci of Ewing, Christan Ellis of Trenton, Fransico Javier Estrada of Lawrenceville, and Pierce Hittelman of Bordentown.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children and may be purchased online or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at (609) 570-3333.