ROBIN'S SHOW RECOMMENDATION: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, tells the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a world-class con artist who passed himself off as a doctor, a lawyer and a jet pilot all before the age of 21. With straight-arrow FBI agent Carl Hanratty on Frank's trail, it's a jet-setting, cat-and-mouse chase as a jazzy, swinging-sixties score keeps this adventure in constant motion. In the end, Agent Hanratty learns he and Frank aren't so different after all, and Frank finds out what happens when love catches up to a man on the run.
Based on the book and hit 2002 DreamWorks film of the same name directed by Stephen Spielberg with screenplay by Jeff Nathanson and book by Frank Abagnale, Jr., CATCH ME IF YOU CAN has some truly standout performances.
Fast-rising Broadway headliner AARON TVEIT (Next to Normal, Wicked) stars as Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who runs away from home in search of the glamorous life. With nothing more than a boyish charm, a big imagination, strapping good looks and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank lives the high life and wins the heart of nurse Brenda Strong, the girl of his dreams (played by Tony® nominee KERRY BUTLER (Xanadu, Hairspray). Tony winner and Broadway fave NORBERT LEO BUTZ (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Wicked) plays Carl Hanratty, the dogged FBI agent who chases Frank to the end and finds something he never expected. And Tony nominee TOM WOPAT (Annie Get Your Gun, Chicago) returns to Broadway as Frank, Sr., who sees his dreams of making it big lived out in his son's fantastic adventures.
The cast of showgirls and others includes Joe Cassidy, Timothy McCuen Piggee, Brandon Wardell, Jennifer Frankel, Lisa Gajda, Bob Gaynor, Kearran Giovanni, Nick Kenkel, Grasan Kingsberry, Aleks Pevec, Kristin Piro, Rachelle Rak (a knockout who I've long enjoyed in various shows), Joe Aaron Reid, Angie Schworer, Sabrina Sloan, Sarrah Strimel and Katie Webber.
This was the first Broadway musical we took my son (age 8) to see, and it was a treat to experience it through his eyes. It was right up his alley, given his love of everything rescue or security-related, including an intrigue with the FBI. He was especially interested to hear that this is a true story and that Abagnale Jr. went on to work for the FBI and the very man who arrested him. He would have loved a car chase or two, but enjoyed the gun shooting action and aisle chases.
Butz is one of my favorite Broadway performers, and he delivers in CATCH ME. In "Don't Break the Rules," he transforms his stellar voice and mannerisms to reflect a weather-beaten guy FBI agent, and it's a showstopper. He's such a talent, and if you're not familiar with his work, this is an excellent opportunity to see him in rare form, though I would have liked more.
ACT II was great. Linda Hart as Carol Strong (Brenda's mother) offered winning comic relief when Frank meets Brenda's parents, and Kerry Butler blew it out of the park with "Fly, Fly, Away." I would have welcomed more of her as well. "Our Family Tree" was delightful, and Tveit showed off his pipes to their utmost with "Good-Bye."
I wasn't enamored with the orchestra being visible at times on the stage, though the concept of Abagnale Jr.'s life being one big show had validity. It just felt like I was watching two shows in one, and my preference was the less glammed up version.
CATCH ME features a Tony Award-winning team with a book by TERRENCE McNALLY (The Full Monty, Ragtime), a score by MARC SHAIMAN and SCOTT WITTMAN (Hairspray), choreography by JERRY MITCHELL (Hairspray, Legally Blonde) and direction by JACK O'BRIEN (Hairspray, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).
Scenic design is by David Rockwell (Hairspray), costume design is by five-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long (The Producers), lighting design is by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner (Wicked) and sound design is by Drama Desk winner Steve Kennedy (Jersey Boys).
The set and staging were well done, and overall, it's an enjoyable theatre experience. I look forward to sharing future Broadway shows with my son, and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN got us off to a good start.
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