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FOR LOTS OF LAUGHS, CATCH HALE COMEDY IF YOU CAN

SHARE FOR LOTS OF LAUGHS, CATCH HALE COMEDY IF YOU CAN

Mix together the suspense of Alfred Hitchcock, a little Blake Edwards-style humor and a plot with more than a few soap opera-style twists and turns and you have a slight inkling of what "Catch Me If You Can" is all about.

It's a very funny comedy, with plenty of hilarious dialogue and situations. But there are some darkly dramatic moments as well.Like "I Do! I Do!", which opened the same weekend (and is reviewed today on this page), this humorous whodunit starts off with a honeymoon.

But it doesn't appear that Daniel and Elizabeth Corban will be celebrating 50 years down the road. Even the Labor Day weekend honeymoon is off to a fairly rocky start.

Corban has barely settled into his boss' summer cabin in the Catskills when he has a major problem on his hands.

Mrs. Corban has disappeared.

Or has she?

First, Corban calls the local police to file a missing persons report. The next morning, in strolls a very beautiful and passionate woman who claims to be his bride. She has all the credentials. But she's a blonde. Wasn't Dan's attractive young wife a redhead?

Well, without divulging the plot (the butler didn't do it - because there is no butler to begin with), we can tell you that Daniel Corban's life quickly escalates into pandemonium.

There are more interesting twists and turns in this caper than you'd find on Highway 1 through Big Sur country.

When "Catch Me If You Can" played on Broadway (early in 1965 at the Morosco - a theater that was later razed to make way for the 47-story Marriott Marquis Hotel) it only ran for 96 performances. Not what you'd call "smash hit" figures. (Similarly, "The Curious Savage," another comedy that's become an enormous hit in regional theaters across the country, only played for 31 performances on Broadway.)

Maybe regional audiences are more in tune with light comedy than those folks back East.

Anyway, "Catch Me If You Can" is the kind of comedy that the Hale Center Theater does best.

Director Ron Jewett's two casts are working with a script that's a lot of fun. (The show was written by Jack Weinstock and Willie Herbert, who later won a Pulitzer Prize for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.")

Stephen C. Miner's 1960-ish set is stylish and functional. All of the action (which is fast-paced and exciting) takes place in the living room. But this is a murder mystery and Miner has left sufficient room for the bodies.

Sometimes the corpses are there and sometimes they're not. There's a sort of "now you see them, now you don't" aspect to this that just adds to the suspense.

Like all HCT plays, the roles in "Catch Me If You Can" are double-cast. But both casts feature several familiar performers - Bob Bedore, Mike Westenskow, Jack Kenison, Sharon Lynn Kenison, Gordon Johnson, Rocky A. Revels and Bob Walkingshaw, to name just a few.

Audiences are undoubtedly aware of the Hale Center Theater's dedication to professionalism, so it's really a toss-up as to which of the two alternating casts you see.

If you're lucky enough to get a seat (HCT is always selling out), just be prepared to sit on the edge of it, especially during the last five minutes.

But if you tell the ending, that's probably grounds for being eliminated on the spot.