HURRICANE – Hurricane Valley Theatrical Company only does a few shows a year, but when it does them it goes all out. Such is the case with its most recent offering, “Catch Me If You Can,” which doesn’t disappoint – it doesn’t feel like a community theater production.
Based on the hit 2002 film of the same name which recounts actual events in the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., a young, globetrotting con-man and counterfeiter or “skirt-chasing party animal” of the 1960s, the show is a case of “Fletch“ meets “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid“ – Fletch because he keeps changing his identity (both his name and occupation) and Butch Cassidy because he’s technically the “bad” guy yet also the protagonist who’s always on the run. Jadon Webster, who plays “Frankie” Jr., has the charm of Chevy Chase and the suave of Paul Newman. He brings an electric energy to the role with a spot-on singing voice – a true crowd pleaser.
Two other crowd pleasers who unfortunately don’t get much stage time are Hayley Hinckley and Mary Johnson, who play the mother and grandmother, respectively, of Frankie Jr.’s betrothed, Brenda Strong, played by Kierstyn Meredith. The two bring down the house in their musical number “Family Tree,” in which they try to ensure that Frankie really is who he says he is – especially that he is a Lutheran. He convinces them because he lives up to his motto, “Act like you know what you’re talking about.”
St. George dentist Kelly J. Olsen, who plays Carl Hanratty, the FBI agent leading the chase on Frankie, humorously delivers dry one-liners. Some of his best are when he talks to Frankie’s parents, played by Bruce Bennett and Laurice Williamson, while hot on the trail of their son.
“If you were trying to raise a crook, you should be very proud,” Hanratty tells Frankie’s mother, Paula, while quipping to his father, “Maybe you should have told him not to commit grand larceny.”
In addition to its vibrant cast, the musical makes the most of its venue.
The Hurricane Community Center has won awards for making the most out of aging facilities and HVTC does the same in the Hurricane Fine Arts Center, the former high school auditorium. With no rigging to change the backdrop in the aged theater, it remains the same throughout the show, but it hardly registers because Director Kyle Myrick and his crew utilize the stage well, regularly shifting the audience’s focus from one side to the other as stagehands and actors move props out of the spotlight while the action is going on under its glare. The quick costume changes are also seamless.
One of the venue’s weaknesses, however, is its sound. For instance, when the cast wasn’t singing, feedback could always be heard but … it didn’t distract from the quality production on stage.
The musical might not be for everyone – especially children under 10 because they might not completely understand the plot and it does contain some mature themes, including minor sexual innuendo and a few vulgarities. However, by today’s motion picture ratings, it would definitely be PG.
One thing audiences might come away with after watching the show is a desire to rewatch (or watch for the first time) the movie for comparison – to see what the non-musical version looks like; the movie stars Leonardo Dicaprio as Frank Jr., Christopher Walken as Frank, Sr., and Tom Hanks as Hanratty.
Myrick even hopes the audience learns a little something from the play.
“We all rush through life the the best way we know how and it is not until something or someone slows us down that we remember the things that are truly important,” he writes in his “Director’s Note” in the program. “I hope that as you watch this show, you realize those things that are most important in your life and remember to slow down and enjoy time.”
The production plays until April 29 on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 7 p.m. and a Saturday 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $10 per person. For more information, check out the HVTC website.
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