Flat Rock – Flat Rock Playhouse smashes a home run with “Catch Me If You Can” – a mystery with witty dialogue, crisp acting and sensational plot twists.
There are more reversals in this thrilling plot than on a Barry Sanders touchdown run. Figuring it out is like batting against the craftiest pitcher. You are bedazzled by a plot curve, mystifying knuckle ball, then shocking change-ups.
Seeing this play is well worth it alone for the final twist in the end with its captivating performances but there is much to like leading up to it.
Pivotal characters are not who they seem. Many have ulterior motives. Alliances shifting throughout this three-act, five-scene play. Patrons are bound to speculate on outcomes, during the intermission.
Looming are five M’s – Monetary motive, murder, mayhem and mystery. Weapons include a gun, a knife, sneaky poison, strong hands and verbal jabs.
Chris Dolman directs. The play hit Broadway in 1965. Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert wrote its clever script, adapting from Robert Thomas’ French play “Trap for a Lonely Man.”
Character actor extraordinaire Scott Treadway continues his laugh-sparking FRP legacy of nearly 40 years. He is sarcastic and snickers, as a crusty Inspector Levine in New York’s Catskill Mountains.
“If it’s insults I want, I’ll call my wife,” he tells Daniel Corban, who married two weeks prior. He fought with his bride over musical tastes. Levine replies he is married for ten years. “We’ve had only one fight. It lasted ten years.” He flirts — acting taken by the phony Liz Corban.
Levine notes he has acute “20/20 hearing.” He varies from naive to cunning. He seems to shift hunches. Who will he ultimately side with in a life-threatening dispute?
Powell — Pow!
The show’s engine is lead Grayson Powell, as Danny Corban. He is a junior advertising exec from Detroit, in the Motor City’s heyday. He bets on the ponies, and met his bride at a track. His fortunes shift. Danny sneaks a Labor Day weekend vacation in the up-scale, remote lodge cabin of his boss Everett Parker (Jason Watson). Danny drove there with his newlywed Elizabeth. She is missing for days.
Very tall Powell commands the stage physically. He prances about with long strides, when Danny is frustrated or enraged. He does a quick leg kick.
Powell resembles the now-cancelled film actor Armie Hammer (“The Lone Ranger,” Illya Kuryakin in “The Man From Uncle”). They are both tall, handsome, cultured and eloquent. They get emotional, even histrionic when flustered.
Columbia, S.C. native Powell has a master’s degree in Fine Arts in Acting from Columbia (N.Y.) University. His acting credits include the TV show “Madam Secretary.”
Danny dwarfs his antagonist, the phony Elizabeth Corban (Laura Woyasz). She is pompous and manipulative. Who is she really? What is she up to? Does she resemble the real Liz?
This pretty mystery woman’s tricky antics drive Danny batty — admittedly, furthering her plans. Phony Liz is easy to dislike. “Didn’t you like my performance? I thought I carried it off,” she said with an evil grin when first taunting Danny. She boasts how she will get him out of the picture – for money. A bonus payoff emerges.
She counters Danny’s persistent efforts to out her aa a fraud to Inspector Levine. Levine prophetically assures Danny “There is no perfect plan. Every gem has a flaw.”
Phony Liz’s elder ally Buddy poses as a Father Kelleher. FRP veteran Peter Thomason turns Buddy from pious to nefarious and boldly menacing.
Patrick Halley also excels. He drastically veers the plot, as wise-cracking sandwich caterer Sidney. Danny’s boss Parker unexpectedly shows up. Will he get Danny out of trouble? Parker brings his mistress. FRP Producing Artistic Director Lisa Kanoy Bryant depicting her quite well.
The lodge’s open living room is another Dennis Mauldin masterpiece set. It has quality woodworking, period furnishings and an iconic stuffed moose head.
This play’s subject and script totally differ from Steven Spielberg’s film of the same name about prankster-imposter Frank Abagnale, Jr.
“Catch Me if You Can” runs through May 14. Nightly showtimes are 7:30 p.m. (Wed., Thur.) or 8 p.m. (Fri., Sat.). Matiness are 2 p.m. (Wed.-Th.-Sat.-Sun.). Tickets cost $35-$55.
Next up at FRP is “Million Dollar Quartet” May 20-June 19. The hit musical is about Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins together in latter part of 1956. Showy pianist Nat Zegree reprises his fireball role as daffy Lewis. Tickets are $45-$65 for this must-see show.
“Music of the Eagles” is also back. The outdoor tribute concert is June 18, at “West Henderson’s Johnson Field.” Tickets are $40-$60, less for those aged 17 or younger.
Upcoming Leiman Mainstage productions include “West Side Story” (July 1-30), Zegree in “Mozart to Pop Chart” (Aug. 6-13) and “Mama Mia” (Oct. 21-Nov. 13).
FRP is expanding its audience base by no longer requiring proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test. Mask-wearing is now optional.
Yet the state theater continues daily, thorough sanitizing. An electrostatic sprayer coats surfaces in the theater, to kill coronavirus and other germs. A cold plasma generator in air ducts neutralizes viruses and removes pollen and other allergens. Restrooms and the lobby are also disinfected. There are hand sanitizer stations.
For tickets to FRP shows, call the box office at (828) 693-0731 or check: flatrockplayhouse.org.