Next on stage at the Montgomery Playhouse is the thriller “Catch Me If You can.”
Oh, you’d say, but you’d be wrong … This isn’t the Spielberg movie starring Leonardo di Caprio as the master con artist/impersonator/turned prized FBI employee Frank Abagnale based on his book.
The offering at the Playhouse is a comedy-mystery that came to Broadway briefly in 1965 starring Dan Dailey and Tom Bosley. Robert Thomas wrote the play, which Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert adapted from the French.
Ed Starr directs at the Playhouse.
The protagonist, Daniel Corban, is in his honeymoon cabin, awaiting word of his wife, Elizabeth, who has been missing for three days. He finds Inspector Levine, who is assigned to the case, to be inept and distracted. A woman arrives identifying herself as Elizabeth Corban. Only, Daniel doesn’t agree, though a priest backs up her story.
Also enter a local cop, deli owner, a blonde and even Daniel’s boss, who lent the newlyweds his cabin.
Anne Vandercook, who plays Elizabeth, said she was drawn to the play because “It’s a challenge and different from what I am used to. Elizabeth, too, is a challenge, but super-fun.”
Usually, the actor said, she is cast in “over-the-top funny roles, and Elizabeth has a bit of an edge.”
Chris Penick is her frustrated husband.
Vandercook is “reluctant,” she said, to expand on her remarks because it “would give too much away.” She will say there are “a lot of fun twists and turns.”
That’s the kind of show Montgomery Playhouse likes to present, according to Loretto McNally, board president
“The Playhouse likes to do a good whodunit, and this one does have a really interesting cast of characters,” she said. “It’s great fun to speculate who’s telling the truth. It keeps you involved till the end.”
Vandercook she did a murder mystery with a Taste for Murder productions last year, but this is closest she’s come to a full-fledged mystery.
“I’m usually cast in comedy farce,” she said. “So this is a bit different. I’m super excited.”
“Catch Me If You Can” also marks the opportunity to work again with Ed Starr, who directed her first production at Montgomery Playhouse — “Fuddy Meers,” in 2012.
“I’ve worked on many shows since then, but haven’t been in a mainstage show at the Arts Barn in a few years, so I’m super-excited about that as well,” the actor said. “The cast is great, and we are having a fun time. It is always satisfying to work with people who are talented and fun.”
Starr has been ubiquitous on the DC-area theater scene, having directed more than 50 plays for more than two decades, including at Chevy Chase Players and Silver Spring Stage in the County. In addition to “Fuddy Meers,” he staged “God’s Favorite” at Montgomery Playhouse.
Of “Catch Me,” Starr said: “It was the script that captured my imagination. It seems to have been written by Alfred Hitchcock and Neil Simon — a fast-paced, complicated mystery that had moments of good comedy.”
Plus, he said, “Montgomery Playhouse has a very good sense of their audiences.”
When they say in theater that death is hard, comedy is harder, Starr agrees that “comedy is a very delicate thing.”
“In ‘Catch’ the comedy comes from the characters,” he said. “The actors must make ‘funny’ part of their overall behavior and not an ‘add-on’ to be done with a wink and a nod.”
Other cast members are Stan Rosen, Mark Schullenberger, Marc Rehr, David Robinson, and Kelly Wilburn.
“Catch Me If You Can” runs Jan. 4-23 at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, 311 Kent Square Road. www.montgomeryplayhouse.org.