LOGAN — There are so many factors that go into an entertaining night of theatre that it can be difficult to describe them all. However, those of us who go often know a great show when we see it. Such is the case with Music Theatre West’s new production of Catch Me if You Can. With a strong cast and impressive production design they have crafted a very special experience for this highly underrated musical.

Catch Me if You Can is of course based on the 2002 film of the same name by Steven Spielberg with performances from Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. While the film is beloved for its energy and charismatic actors the musical creators have taken everything to a new level adding to what was already highly entertaining. Marc  Shaiman gives us incredibly catchy music working with Scott Wittman on the lyrics. Terrence McNally balances a very tricky task in the book of having 2 lead characters that rarely interact throughout the course of the musical. This is especially significant because Catch Me if You Can is at its heart a friendship story and yet they don’t actually meet until the end.

The production at Music West has taken all these strengths in the material and enhanced them making for a wonderful night of theatre. I really enjoyed Zack Grob as Frank Jr and Logan McKenna as Carl. Again, despite not spending much time together on stage they have chemistry as a duo and the audience is rooting for both of them. It’s also a treat to have Rachel Worthen Grob, Zack’s wife in real life, playing Brenda, so naturally that chemistry is strong. The other standout in the cast is Ryan Leonhardt as Frank Sr. He wasn’t as boozy as other portrayals of the character I’ve seen but he was absolutely devastating in “Little Boy Be a Man.”

Zack Grob admittedly struggled with some of the high notes in numbers but since his character is young it didn’t take away much. I particularly loved “Butta Outta Cream” where his command of the choreography and charisma really shined. Rachel Grob did an unforgettable rendition of the 11 0’clock number “Fly, Fly Away” which is often the highlight of this show and it was no exception at Music West.

The other standout in this production is large well-dressed and choreographed ensemble.  The stage at the Utah Theatre is on the small side and choreographer Stephanie Whte uses every inch of the stage to accompany our leads with everything from kick-lines to recreating a jazz club in the 1960s. The costumes especially on the ensemble, by Lindsey Kelstrom, are also really impressive with blue Pan-Am stewardess looks during the pilot section (and singing “Jet Set”) and sparkling gold formal gold dresses at the engagement party “Our Family Tree”.)

I also loved the lighting design by Kyle Sunderland where the many-lit background often flashed and sparkled along with the musical cues. The colors projected on to the stage also added to the 1960s pop-art aesthetic so key to the show. The Christmas sequence is one of my favorite parts with the pink Christmas tree sparkling along with the festive “Christmas is My Favorite Time of the Year.”

Director Celeste Baillio manages all the elements and the large cast wonderfully and  uses the smaller Utah Theatre stage to its full capacity. Choosing to highlight the lighter aspects of friendship and love over the darker sequences such as Frank Sr’s alcoholism and Paula’s infidelity which I have seen played up more in other productions of this musical was an interesting decision. Still, the overall tone is so much fun I didn’t mind the directorial choices.

I know a lot of theatre-goers are skeptical of screen to stage adaptations. They are a dime-a-dozen these days, but Catch Me if You Can is one of the better ones and the production at Music Theatre West in Logan is a terrific example of how to put on this musical right. The leads are charming and have good chemistry. The ensemble is large and dynamic. The dancing and costumes are first rate. I’m not sure what else you could ask for in a community production of this show. I’m certainly glad I caught this one while I could! If I lived closer to Logan I’d see it again. That’s how much I enjoyed it!

Catch Me if You Can, produced by Music Theatre West, plays at the Utah Theatre, 18 West Center Street, Logan, Utah Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 7:30pm with matinees at 1:30pm on Saturdays through March 9th. Tickets are $18-25. For more information see https://www.musictheatrewest.org/