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Regional Reviews: Other Regions

Catch Me If You Can
Hale Centre Theatre, Salt Lake City
Review by Gil Benbrook

The Cast
Photo Courtesy of Hale Centre Theatre
Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert's play, Catch Me If You Can, is a taut mystery thriller with a lot of twists and turns. It premiered on Broadway in 1965 and had a short run. It doesn't seem to get produced very often anymore, probably due to that fact that it could be confused with the musical that was based on the 2002 film directed by Steven Spielberg and Frank Abagnale's book of the same name. It's unfortunate that more theatres don't present this thriller, as it's both suspenseful and funny and, as demonstrated by the crackerjack cast in Hale Centre Theatre's production, has the audience members constantly on the edge of their seats trying to guess what will happen next.

The play centers on Daniel Corban, who is frantically searching for his wife Elizabeth. The couple, who only met a month ago, are on their honeymoon and staying at the remote Catskills home of Daniel's boss. Three days before, after they'd had an argument, Elizabeth left the house, got in their car, and drove off. Daniel hasn't seen her since. Local police inspector Levine is trying to help Daniel find out where his wife is, but he's also distracted by another case he's trying to solve.

Daniel is visited by a local priest who says Elizabeth came to see him and gave him a large donation. He also has a surprise for Daniel: Elizabeth is with him. However, when Elizabeth enters the home, Daniel claims that she isn't his wife but an imposter. But if she isn't his wife, how does she know so much about him? As Daniel tries to prove to Levine, and anyone that will listen, that this woman isn't his wife, he begins to question everyone's motive, as the plot twists and turns, and secrets and disturbing developments are revealed. To say anything more would be revealing too much.

Playwrights Weinstock and Gilbert also co-wrote, with Abe Burrows, the book for the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Based on a French play by Robert Thomas, their Catch Me If You Can is a finely crafted piece. As they showed in How To Succeed, Weinstock and Gilbert know how to incorporate wit in their scripts, and here the humor is effectively used to help break the tension. But they also ensure the revelations are sound, the stakes high, and the pacing quite gripping with a satisfying conclusion. Once everything is revealed, you can look back and see how it all perfectly fits together and there aren't any fake moments. That's the true sign of a well-written thriller.

The Hale production is double cast and under Barta Heiner's clear and crisp direction, the cast we saw (who perform on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) are excellent. Heiner understands that her cast needs to effectively manage their way through the talky dialogue and heavily scripted plot to make the action and their characters engaging without making the situations seem false or contrived. The Hale cast are sure of who their characters are and the roles they are playing in the disappearance of Elizabeth, even though the audience most likely won't have as clear an understanding until the very end.

Dallin Bradford has the perfect demeanor as Daniel Corbin. As he finds himself in a nearly impossible situation, Daniel becomes more frustrated and unsure of what is happening around him, and Bradford does an excellent job of portraying this man who finds himself at wit's end. As Inspector Levine, Jason Hackney has the right combination of wit, sarcasm, and street smarts to bring this over-worked detective vibrantly to life. There are several humorous moments written for Levine, and Hackney knows not to veer too broadly into caricature as that would make the role too comical and less believable.

As Elizabeth, Meg Flinders keeps the audience guessing. There are multiple facets to the character, and Flinders effectively manages her way through every layer. In smaller parts, David Weekes and Jakob Lau Smith Tice are interesting to watch, with some nice bits of well-played comedy, as Father Kelleher and the local deli owner Sidney, respectively, and Ben Parkes and Emma Sutton add a moment of humor and intrigue as Daniel's boss and the boss's girlfriend.

The creative elements are sublime. The scenic design by Jenn Taylor is a gorgeous, multi-level 1960s vacation home with a sunken living room with a fire pit, stone walls, period furniture, beautiful wooden accents (including some large ceiling beams), and a wall of floor to ceiling windows in the back that look out on a gorgeous wooden landscape. It's very impressive. The lighting by Marianne Ohran and Kristin Tenney's sound design combine to create some incredibly thrilling moments. Dennis Wright's costumes are wonderful, period-perfect designs

Catch Me If You Can is a well-crafted puzzle of a thriller. With excellent direction, a wonderful cast, and superb creative aspects, Hale Centre Theatre's production will keep you guessing while you try to unravel what happened to Elizabeth and who you should believe.

Catch Me If You Can runs through November 11, 2023, at Hale Centre Theatre, 9900 South Monroe Street, Sandy UT. For tickets and information, please visit or call 801-984-9000

Producer: Mark Dietlein
Director: Barta Heiner
Production Stage Manager: Chantel Ficklin
Scenic Design: Jenn Taylor
Costume Design: Dennis Wright
Lighting Design: Marianne Ohran
Sound Design: Kristin Tenney
Properties Design: Danna Barney
Hair and Make-up Design: Krissa Lent
Video/Projection Design: Josh Shipley
Stage Manager: Megan Johnson, Heather Wadley
Assistant Stage Manager: Rosalynn Eardley, Ethan Ison, Winona Kasey, Mckenzie Maag
Lightboard Operator: Ryan Hopkins, Lucas Russell, Kaden Wells
Sound Engineer: Meg Johnson, Evan Saunders, Bre Stark
Stage Technician: Ben Dickson, Billy Gonzales, Brayden Seaman, Ben Ward
Wardrobe Dresser: Veronica Augustine, Amanda Howard, Alicia Kondrick
Hair and Make-up Crew: Cassie Firth, Kylie Hallett, Claire Jones, Marnee' Porter

Daniel Corban: Dallin Bradford
Inspector Levine: Jason Hackney
Father Kelleher: David Weekes
Elizabeth Corban: Meg Flinders
Sidney: Jakob Lau Smith Tice
Mrs. Parker: Emma Sutton
Everett Parker: Ben Parkes Hale-Catch Me if You Can Set.jpg