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High energy musical coming to Sterling College
Sterling College Theatre students Dylan Werth (standing) from Hays and Nilo Reynoso from Compton, Calif., play the father and son duo Frank Abagnale Jr. and Sr. in the musical “Catch Me If You Can.” Here they rehearse their big duet, “Butter Outta Cream.”

STERLING — When it comes to musicals, Sterling College Theatre seems to believe in the adage: bigger is better. Even in this pandemic year Sterling’s music and theater departments have combined to present two big cast musicals. After presenting “Carousel” in January, the directors, students and designers are hard at work for “Catch Me If You Can,” which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 25. 

Based on the popular movie of the same name, “Catch Me If You Can” tells the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr. who traveled the globe posing as an airline pilot, surgeon and lawyer before being caught by the FBI. The score is by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the team behind the popular musical “Hairspray.”

“The songs just kind of weave in and out between scenes, so everything moves really quickly,” Marisa Callan, the show’s music director said. She described the music as, “modern, rock and roll, fun, a little bit jazzy, too, kind of crooner style.” 

Callan said the music is particularly challenging for the three leading men who play Frank Jr., his father Frank Sr., and the detective Carl Hanratty. The Sterling College students in those roles are Dylan Werth, Nilo Reynoso, and Will Dutton. “The three lead guys sing a lot, and they sing hard stuff, things that are really extensive vocal ranges,” she said. “They have to train, work up endurance, to be able to sustain a show like that.” 

After the three lead men, Callan said, the ensemble has the most challenging part in the show. With choreography, in addition to the difficult music, “they have a lot to learn,” Callan said. She’s confident they can do it. 

“We have a good core group in the music and theater department who really enjoy a challenge and kind of thrive on that,” Callan said.

Big also describes the show’s costume needs. Many of the show’s female ensemble will have five costume changes. The “Catch Me If You Can” set has been a big challenge, too. It is being designed and constructed with the help of Michael Downs, a creative designer from Wichita. Downs has designed concert spaces and lighting designs for performers such as Snoop Dogg, Fifth Harmony and Rihanna. He has also worked for four different Olympics, designing the medals pavilion for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. “Catch Me If You Can” marks the 994th theater set Downs has designed. 

Theater professor Sasha Hildebrand said she told Michael, “Create me a stage that looks kind of like a 1960s or ‘70s variety show TV show set. Give me different levels to play with.” 

Downs did just that, creating a set that will feel like a rock concert or a Vegas show, complete with light up elements. 

Since the show is set in the mid-1960s when color TVs were first becoming common, and the first song in the show is entitled “Live in Living Color,” the show’s set design includes four large TV shaped platforms, which will be used for dance numbers and other elements of the show. 

Callan said “Catch Me If You Can” was selected as the spring musical because it is a high energy, colorful, bright show. 

All performances of “Catch Me If You Can” will take place in Culbertson Auditorium on the Sterling College campus. Social distancing and masks for audience members will be required. Tickets are available at the door or online through Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.