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Powerhouse performers in “Catch Me If You Can” make for a show you definitely should catch (Review- Croswell Opera House) July 20, 2014

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Entertainment, musical theater.
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Back in 2009, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman hoped to recreate their “Hairspray” success with a musical version of “Catch Me If You Can”. It never really caught on despite generally good reviews and lots of Tony Award exposure and nominations. The show did a decent tour — and now you can catch a dynamite production of the musical at Croswell Opera House in Adrian, MI

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You probably are familiar with the autobiographical book, or the movie version of the story: young kid sets off to create a new life for himself and escape his marital-stress family background and finds himself becoming a millionaire by forging checks, creating new personas for himself (co-pilot, lawyer, doctor, teacher) and keeping the FBI chasing him for several years. The musical’s conceit is that it places the story into a “flashback variety show” like those that were popular in 60’s television. The tunes and numbers all reflect production numbers on a tv variety show. The ensemble cast play all the singers/dancers in these numerous scenes, and play minor roles in the “story” as it spills out over two and a half hours of non-stop entertainment. Michael Yuen directs with a sure hand, and things barrel along at lighting speed.

First and foremost — see the show for the terrific leads: Patrick Wallace is a superb singing/acting/dancing powerhouse as Frank Abagnale, Jr. Keep an eye on this young musical theater student from Siena Heights University because his next stop is going to be Broadway.  Also terrific are Jared Hoffert as Frank Abagnale Sr, Lucy Hagedorn as Paula Abagnale, and Paul Manger as FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. Kyrie Bristle turns in a powerhouse performance as Brenda Strong, the wholesome southern girl to whom Frank Jr finally loses his heart (and clear thinking). Her parents are hilariously played by John Bacarella and Debbie Corbin.

Second, see the show for the terrific ensemble singing/dancing cast. They support the leads in the many many musical numbers, and the dancing (very creative and energetic by Sarah Nowak) is some of the best you’ll see on local stages.  Keeping with the Broadway production, the orchestra is on stage (ala Lawrence Welk, Mitch Miller, etc) and they sound terrific under the musical direction of Dave Rains, who has also done wonderful work with the cast.

Third, see it for the marvelous technical production — from Leo Babcock’s multi-level set with light-up stairs, to Tiff Crutchfield’s lighting,  and sound design by Phillip and Elizabeth Baugh. I lost count of the costume changes by Pam Krage, but they look terrific and every major number is a different color and style. Technical Director Keith Holloway clearly had his work cut out for him, and it all runs smoothly and efficiently.

Finally, see it for the clever and funny book by Terrence McNally, the melodic songs by Wittman and Shaiman, and the chance to see a musical theater piece that is a creative mix of classic and modern musical styles. You might even find yourself buying the cast album after seeing the show – the score is that “catch”y….see what I did there?….

With Les Miserables and Catch Me If You Can, The Croswell Opera House has two shows this summer that will be remembered many years from now as among the best of class…do not miss it. I’m going back next weekend. I loved it.

Highly recommended.

Catch Me If You Can continues at The Croswell Opera House through July 27th. Croswell.org or 517-264-SHOW for tickets.

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