Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at New Theatre & Restaurant

A Murder Mystery You Are Unlikely to Solve

By: Dec. 02, 2023
Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at New Theatre & Restaurant

“Catch Me If You Can” at New Theatre Restaurant is a comedic turn on the Murder Mystery genre.  It will keep you guessing from the opening curtain until the big reveal at the end of the show. 

The setting is an upscale vacation home in Northern California’s picturesque Sierra Nevada Mountains attached to a resort development.   San Francisco Marketing Consultant Daniel Corban (Ross Hellwig) has sneaked away for a holiday weekend with his new bride. Following a honeymoon spat, Bride Elizabeth mysteriously vanishes. 

Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at New Theatre & Restaurant
Elizabeth returns to Daniel's arms,
but is it the same woman?

Dan reports the disappearance to the police. The crusty and sardonic cop on the case is one Inspector Detective Levine (Jim O’Heir).  Daniel is, understandably frantic. Inspector Levine… Not so much. He has seen all this before and he is already occupied with a big fraud investigation at the local resort.

Of course, the big draw for this show is Jim O’Heir as Inspector Levine.  O’Heir is the well-traveled, Chicago born and bred comedian best known for his continuing role on TV’s successful sitcom “Parks and Recreation.  O’Heir has an extensive resume beginning at Second City in Chicago and arriving in California to assume leading roles in a number of projects.  He does not disappoint.  

A person claiming to be Elizabeth Corban (Kelly Felthous) rematerializes in the verifying company of a new local priest, Father Keleher (Jerry Kernion) of Saint Dominick’s parish. For Inspector Levine, this means the missing person case is closed.

The problem is the woman claiming to be Elizabeth is not the person Daniel claims accompanied him to the remote get-a-way honeymoon in the Sierras.

The fifth member of this mysterious mashup is the proprietor of the local deli.  His name is Sidney (Victor Raider-Wexler) and he shows up in Act II for the purpose of partially unwinding this particular twisted ball of yarn, but unexpectedly adds to the chaos.

It has become pretty clear that somebody or maybe everybody is not who he or she seems.  But who are these people? Why are they claiming to be someone they are not? Has Daniel fallen off the sanity switchback?  We don’t know and won’t find out until the big revelation at the end of the show.

Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at New Theatre & Restaurant
Maybe she isn't the same woman,
but what the heck?

The answer is… Nah, I’m not going to tell you.  You probably won’t figure it out and if I blab… it will all be spoiled.

“Catch Me If You Can” hit Broadway in 1965 and ran for one hundred eleven performances. Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert wrote a clever script with more twists and turns than a mountain two-lane road.  It is adapted from Robert Thomas’ earlier French language play “Trap for a Lonely Man.”

This is one of those strange shows that does not neatly fit into any genre.  The clever dialog and the mostly widely distributed repartee would do credit to any comedy, but the heart and soul of the story is an actual murder mystery.  The fun should be in the audience figuring out who-done-it and then being surprised at never having seen the real culprit coming.  This one fits the bill.

The cast is well selected and has the comic timing down pat. The set at New Theater by Joe Burkard is built to exacting detail standards.  Lighting by Sean Glass and sound by Roger Stoddard are appropriate to their use.   Costumes by Georgianna Londre are done very well.

Of course, Director Dennis D. Hennessy has done a great job of pulling all these disparate elements together.   The pace of the show keeps everyone guessing and keeps the action moving along briskly.

 I really liked the performances of O’Heir, Felthous, Kernion, and Raider-Wexler.  O’Heir is funny and wise.  Felthous is sexy.  Kierion is believable.  Raider-Wexler makes the absolute most of the dialog allowed to him.  If there is a but, here it comes.  The performance of Ross Hellwig as Daniel may be a bit overwrought, frenetic, and somehow a little out of sync with the other actors. 

Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at New Theatre & Restaurant
Have I got a sandwich for you, 
and the coffee... you could die for!.

When later thinking about the totality of the production, I was put in mind of films with similar themes from the late 1930s to the middle 1940s.  This show even has scripted segue music like a movie score. In particular, I am reminded of any one of several Cary Grant characters as pretty straight leading men thought to have gone around the sanity bend, but his character are inventive enough to pull the crazy portrayal back a little bit and so they fit better with the rest of the performances.

Seeing this play is well worth it alone for the final twist in the end and with all that leads up to it. 

As always, the meal at one of the premiere dinner theaters nationally is a treat and the service is impeccable.  The production is predictably super professional. “Catch Me If You Can” at New Theatre Restaurant is a fun evening out.   I happily recommend it.

This “Catch Me If You Can” is not related in any way to the later 2002 film of the same name from Steven Spielberg telling the story of forger and impersonator Frank Abagnale, Jr or the 2011 musical play covering the same ground. 

“Catch Me If You Can” continues at New Theatre through February 8, 2024.  Tickets can be purchased online at the link below or by telephone at 913-649-7469 (SHOW).

Photos by Mike Savage.