The opening show in CATCO's 30th anniversary season is one long con.

The opening show in CATCO's 30th anniversary season is one long con.

Which is to say that, yes, the stage musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is based on the classic comedy film of the same name starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, and CATCO will present it through Aug. 10 in the Riffe Center Studio One Theatre.

"(The musical) is very similar to the film," CATCO producing director Steven C. Anderson said.

"You've got these two very different con-men -- one vulgar and the other the classic gentleman. And it becomes this constant one-upmanship."

Joe Bishara and Matt Clemens play Freddy and Lawrence, respectively, two hucksters working the French Riviera. Soon after they meet and strike up a competitive friendship, the cons encounter a millionaire heiress and devise a contest to determine which of the two is the better con man.

But they're not "bad" guys.

"We love these rogues," Anderson said.

"They're sort of like Harold Hill in The Music Man. They're lovable and intriguing, although we still want to see if they get their comeuppance in the end."

The CATCO production does not attempt to match the scope of the Broadway or current London's West End production, but rather, as Anderson explained, strips away the Broadway pomp and circumstance to focus on the story and the terrific David Yazbek score.

"It's such a lush, romantic score, and the songs are terrific. They are, like the rest of the show, very tongue-in-cheek."

Anderson said he knew he had the right pair in casting Bishara and Clemens for the lead roles, working with Liz Wheeler as Christine Colgate. The cast also includes Susan Bunsold Wilson (Muriel) and Todd Covert (Andre), who Anderson said form "such an intriguing second-banana couple."

Rounding out the cast are Beth Conley, Annie Huckaba, Andrew Protopapas and Alexa Joy Rybynski.

For video featuring Matt Clemens from the cast of CATCO's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, plus a quick peek of the show, check out The Beat online at ThisWeekNEWS. com/thebeat.