ST. GEORGE — Catch Me If You Can at the St. George Musical Theater is an enjoyable night of charm and deceit. With book by Terrence McNally, Music by Marc Shaiman and Lyrics by Scott Whitman and Marc Shaiman, this musical is filled with groovy 60’s vibes in music and fashion. Directed by Brandon Bruce and performed in the historic St. George Opera Hall, the production of Catch Me If You Can by St. George Musical Theatre is highly enjoyable with a great cast and showy dance numbers.
Catch Me If You Can is based on the stories of Frank Abagnale Jr., a real-life con artist who swindled millions of dollars and fraudulently created many identities. For years, he posed as an airplane pilot, doctor, and a lawyer and had many more occupations as he lived the high life. All the while, Agent Carl Hanratty of the FBI and his team were trying to catch up to him yet seemed to always be at least one step behind him. Abagnale was eventually caught, served time, and started to work for the FBI helping to catch other “paper hangers”. Yet he became a legend as he legally made millions of dollars writing books about his stories which have been made into a major motion picture and now into a Broadway Musical.
Zane Kroff played the leading role of Frank Abagnale Jr. and portrayed a very charming conman with his sly smiles, good looks, and great voice. Hitting the night off with a fun and energetic number “Live in Living Color” Kroff had girls swooning over him not only in the show but it appeared to work also on the cute grandmas in the audience too. Kroff was nervous yet delusive with great facial expressions as he pretended to be an agent for the Secret Service in Los Angeles.
Jim Zierse and Emily Zierse were fantastic as Frank Abagnale Sr. and Paula Abagnale. J. Zierse created a dynamic character who changed throughout the show from confident and swindling to broken and drunk. His performance in “The Pinstripes Are All That They See” and “Butter Outta Cream” filled with charisma as he portrayed a father who Frank Jr. could look up to even though he wasn’t always playing by the rules. E. Zierse had a lovely French accent and was enticing as she danced to a comical yet graceful dance number with the men of the ensemble in “Don’t Be a Stranger.”
However, the standout performance of the night was by Jason Lewis as Carl Hanratty. Lewis skillfully played the role of the cliché detective with thoughtful details from his voice to his bowler hat and trench coat to his analytical demeanor. An example of Lewis’ exemplary acting came as he talked with his FBI team at headquarters, he smoothly caught a paper airplane out of the air and crumpled it up foreshadowing the pilot scenes coming up. He also took a moment of live theatre mishaps and turned it into an improvised joke as he proclaimed, “The sound of shattering glass is me breaking this case wide open.” Lewis rocked the ending of “Don’t Break the Rules” and sang a fabulous duet with Kroff in “Stuck Together (Strange But True)”.
Large dance numbers throughout the show such as “Jet Set” and “Someone Else’s Skin” were engaging and well-choreographed by Maria Vacarro. The stage at the St. George Opera House is set up as theatre in the round which demands choreography to be thought of from all directions as the dancers are playing to audience members on all sides. The dancers were constantly changing costumes to fit the next scenes. Costumes designed by Staci Martin were fitting of the 1960s from the white Gogo boots and 60’s short skirts to the flirty light blue flight attendant uniforms.
Although the dance numbers were well performed by the ensemble, the acoustics did not help to carry their sound at parts leading to times when the ensemble was either too loud or not loud enough. As Brenda Strong (Bethany Ure) sang a heartbroken song in “Fly Fly Away”, the three backup singers were barely audible. However, when the full ensemble is on stage, the women can back off a little especially in “Doctors Orders” as they seem to almost be screaming at times and during the end of “Jet Set” when the men’s parts got completely lost.
Technical director Jennifer Roberts projected pictures on the walls of the theatre which set the scenes with comic book like illustrations to fit the time era and Frank Jr.’s story telling. The airport flight board projections helped keep the audience informed to where the next scene was taking place and fit with airplane theme throughout the show. Projections of scenes during “Seven Wonders” were also illustrative and kept the storyline moving forward.
Overall, Catch Me If You Can is a great show that all family members can enjoy. The St. George Musical Theatre at the Historic St. George Opera House is a hidden gem in Southern Utah. Although the venue is small and confined to few seats, the theatre company put on a larger-than-life show that is absolutely delightful. I encourage you to get your tickets in advance as the show I saw was sold out. You won’t want to miss out on this talented show before it flies away.