The Charleston Light Opera Guild pulled out all the stops for its FestivALL presentation of “Catch Me If You Can.” A larger-than-life show about larger-than-real criminal (Frank W. Abagnale Jr.), the talented actors of the guild did credit to his now-legendary antics.
Evan Sullivan played the charming yet conniving Abagnale, regularly outwitting the diligent but bumbling FBI agent Carl Hanratty, played by Chris Terpening. The two men weave in and out of the action, Abagnale always only barely just out of Hanratty’s reach, much to the agent’s consternation.
Sullivan’s open smile and boyish good looks make him believable in the role of child/man seamlessly transitioning from numbers in which he plays a 16-year-old boy to scenes in which he portrays everything from a PanAm pilot to a pediatrician, hustling anyone and everyone along the way with a Pepsodent smile and an impressive vocal range.
Terpening trips along behind him like a blues singing Keystone Cop. Terpening’s stand out number, “Don’t Break the Rules,” was a crowd favorite as he and the company danced and sang their hearts out. Although obviously sweating through an intense, physically-demanding number Terpening never lost a step or missed a note. The crowd ate it up.
The show is almost three hours long (including a 15 minute intermission) to allow for a complex plot and quite a bit of character development for a musical. The supporting cast including Abagnale’s mother, father, fiancé and her family all had featured numbers in which their connection to Abagnale and his crimes were explored. With that many different offshoots from the main plot, it is hard to avoid bogging down a show. “Catch Me If You Can” never slows, and the audience is never left to tire of the performance. Each number is a mini spectacle with multiple costume changes, excellent use of props and colossal dance routines.
The company dancers are to be applauded for their flawless transitions with very little down time. The steps were in sync, and their backup vocals excellent when the audience could hear them. Which brings me (unfortunately, once again) to my only criticism of yet another guild production. Please fix the sound.
The constant fluttering of the microphones, the fading in and out of sound and the inability to regulate volume, as well as the intermittent popping and cracking is horribly distracting. This is not the first time a guild show has been plagued with these sound troubles. I don’t know what the issue is, but it desperately needs to be fixed. These are professional-grade performances, and it is a shame to have them lose some of the magic to a technicality.
Overall, even with the sound problems, it was an excellent show and well worth an evening out, although I would caution some themes and numbers are mature and may not be suited to a young audience although there is nothing worse than you would find on cable television.
If you would like to catch your own glimpse of “Catch Me If You Can” it runs Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Civic Center Little Theater.