BWW Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at Des Moines Playhouse: A Welcome and Colorful Journey
After a few months of seeing the white and snow-covered ground, I think everyone is ready to have some color brought back into life. While we may be getting to that time of year outside where we start seeing color again, inside at Des Moines Playhouse, you can see a show that is "Live and in Living Color." On Friday, I took a ride to the Des Moines Playhouse for their production of "Catch Me If You Can." playing through April 14. This production was filled with color both on stage and off. This included color brought in by some amazing performances as well as the set and lighting.
"Catch Me If You Can," has a book by Terrance McNally, with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who as a teenager he left home forged checks, and charmed his way into careers as a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, all with no training. Through out the show he is being chased by FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. Does he get caught? You'll have to come to the show to find out.
There were many Great Performances in this show. On of the most suprisning to me was Jess Ritcher's performance as Brenda Strong. Her character is not introduced until the second act, but she makes the most of the time she has on stage. At first, I thought she might be holding back a with her character, but as the show went on, it was clear that it was part of her character's charm. When it got to her big number "Fly, Fly away." She let her character fly as well as her singing voice. The choices she had made early become clear. The number got the biggest response of the night from the audience.
The show continued to be bought to life by Chris Ennis, black and white performance as Carl Hanratty. The character is written in a way that you don't want to embellish what the character is doing or feeling. His down to earth performance brought a counterpoint to the show that would have been greatly missed had it not been there. By playing the character this way, it allowed him to break loose when he got a big production number in act 1. And the song was a treat to the whole audience and in my opinion, was the best production number of the night..
"Catch Me if You Can" is glued together by the colorful performance of Connor Ripperger as Frank Abagnale Jr. I was impressed by his approach to Frank Abagnale Jr. He found a way to make each style of music in the show seem to flow smoothly. His smooth singing voice brought the song "Someone Else's Skin" to life in a way I had not expected it to. He brought an energy to the big production numbers in the show that helped keep the show moving along. The biggest surprise from him came during the song "Goodbye." Instead of taking an approach to the song that the show is coming to an end, he brought an emotional depth to the song that made it about everything Frank has done unravelling and falling apart. I appreciated getting to see this over the top character get to a point where he was broken to the point of tears. It was a performance I will not soon forget.
What brought the most color to this production is the cohesiveness of the designed by Nicholas Amundson and the lights designed by Amanda Pichler. I appreciated how muted the set was, yet still able to tell the story of the show. It was also a treat getting to see the orchestra on stage during the show. I won't explain why they were on stage, because I don't want to ruin part of the show's storytelling device. The lighting was a beautiful accent to the set and helped set the mood of the show. While it is called for in the script, I felt the lighting took the idea of having one of the main characters in color, and the other in black and white to another level. It added a layer to the show that let the audience see how both characters were reacting to what was happening in the show.
"Catch Me If You Can," is a show that like the opening song is "Live in Living Color." This is a not to be missed production playing through April 14 at Des Moines Playhouse. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM and on Sundays at 2:00 PM. To find out more information about the show or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.dmplayhouse.com/events/catch-me-if-you-can
Photos by Steve Gibbons