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Review: Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can, the musical, is an exciting ride!

I enjoyed Steven Speilberg's DreamWorks movie, Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, and I like musicals. That was enough to propel me to the Pantages Theater to see Catch Me If You Can, the musical.

Like the movie and the book by the same name, the musical version of Catch Me If You Can tells the unbelievable-but-true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. In the musical, we meet Frank as a young man staring down the barrel of a gun. Rather than continue the story from there, Frank takes us back in time, telling the audience and his captor how he got there, in the tone of a 60’s variety show.

We flash back to meet Frank as a teenager whose happy life quickly begins to crumble around him. Rather than become a victim, Frank takes his world into his own hands and uses some of the skills that his well-meaning father taught him, along with his own ingenuity, to start a new life for himself. He runs away from home with two dollars in his pocket and turns that money into millions as a con man. Incredibly, Frank is able to pose as a pilot and a doctor along the way, but, rather than being motivated by the thrill of flying an airplane or the fascinating world of medicine, Frank seems predominately driven by one thing: women.

For me, the show was an engaging collection of three interwoven love stories: between a father and a son, a man and a woman, and, as unlikely as it sounds, an FBI agent and a con artist. Each “couple” gets their own wonderfully touching song or two among the lively songs that make up the rest of the score. The score is by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who also worked on the Broadway musical, Hairspray.

In the role of Frank Abagnale, Jr., Stephen Anthony bursts with charisma and charm. Even though Frank is technically a bad guy, I couldn’t help rooting for him. And Anthony can really move! He was an absolute joy to watch.

I also grew to like Agent Carl Hanratty, played with depth by Merritt David Janes, and Frank Abagnale, Sr. (Dominic Fortuna), whose love for his son was palpable, especially during the song “Butter Outta Cream.” Aubrey Mae Davis, who played the role of Brenda Strong, won me over when she belted out her love for Frank in “Fly, Fly Away.”

Some of the smaller supporting roles felt more like cartoon characters than real people, and the show certainly didn’t accurately portray what it’s like to be a pilot or a doctor in the real world, but that fits perfectly with a story where the main character is a young adult who loves comic books.

The entire orchestra for Catch Me If You Can was seated right on the stage, which felt appropriate to the 60’s variety show theme. Likely because the orchestra filled much of the stage, the sets were minimal. Beautiful projections on a large screen behind the orchestra effectively set the tone for the scenes and smaller set pieces were moved on and off the stage as they were needed.

Catch Me If You Can audience members who have seen the movie, read the book, or heard the story, will have a pretty good idea how the musical version ends, but with Catch Me If You Can, the musical, the ride is so delightful that already knowing the ending really doesn’t matter at all. In fact, watching Catch Me If You Can, the musical, was the most fun that I’ve had in the theater in a long time.

Jen (California,USA)*

* As a member of the press, Jen received two complimentary tickets to Catch Me If You Can.
Catch Me If You Can ran at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles from March 12th through March 24th, 2013.

Tickets to current and upcoming shows at the Pantages Theatre are available:

Online: HollywoodPantages.com or Ticketmaster.com
By Phone: 1-800-982-2787
In Person: Pantages Box Office, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (opens daily at 10am, except for holidays) and Ticketmaster Outlets