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Bad Boy, Bad Boy: “Catch Me If You Can” Transforms Frank Abagnale’s Crimes into a 1960s Variety Show

Stephen Anthony stars as legendary con man Frank Abagnale — shown here impersonating a Pan Am pilot — in “Catch Me If You Can” on Nov. 6-11 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

Stephen Anthony stars as legendary con man Frank Abagnale — shown here impersonating a Pan Am pilot — in “Catch Me If You Can” on Nov. 6-11 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

Troika Entertainment’s zesty national tour of the 2011 Tony Award nominated Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can — which Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre have jointly brought to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium for eight performances from Nov. 6th to Nov. 11th — is a nimble and lighthearted romp through key episodes from the life and crimes of infamous teenage con man and forger Frank William Abagnale, Jr. – all staged as a 1960s-style television variety show, with a lively script by Terrence McNally and a buoyant score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

The visually striking contributions of scenic designer David Rockwell, lighting designer Kenneth Posner, and costume designer William Ivey Long underscore the variety-show format; and brisk musical staging by director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell heightens the show’s hilarity.

Recent college graduate Stephen Anthony plays Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. as a lovable scamp, who ran away from his divorcing parents’ soon-to-be-broken home at age 16 and commenced a life of crime to keep from being returned to live with one of them. Abagnale started out as a penniless high school kid with the gift of gab, but quickly learned how to lie convincingly. Indeed, Abagnale estimates that he passed more than $2.5 million in bad checks in 26 countries before his arrest and imprisonment in France, Sweden, and the United States, for a total of approximately five years, at age 21.

Stephen Anthony’s personable Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. is the perfect foil for Merritt David Janes, who creates a prickly portrait of FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who is hot on Abagnale’s trail and — in Les Misérables terms — plays the implacable Inspector Javert to Abagnale’s Jean Valjean.

Stephen Anthony stars as legendary con man Frank Abagnale — shown here impersonating a doctor — in “Catch Me If You Can” on Nov. 6-11 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

Aubrey Mae Davis adds a charming characterization of Abagnale’s fiancée, Atlanta, GA nurse Brenda Strong; and D. Scott Withers and Amy Burgmaier hover nervously over the happy couple as Brenda’s aristocratic Old South parents Roger and Carol Strong. Caitlin Maloney and especially Dominic Fortuna add a note of melodrama as Frank’s bickering mother and father Paula Abagnale and the original Smooth Operator, Frank Abagnale, Sr.; and Travis Mitchell, Ben Laxton, and Derrick Parks are amusing as stumbling, bumbling, fumbling FBI Agents Branton, Dollar, and Cod. Crime has never been so much fun.

SECOND OPINION: Nov. 10th Raleigh, NC Raleigh article by Larissa Mount: and Nov. 8th review by Larissa Mount:; Nov. 9th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Byron Woods (who awards the show 3.5 of 5 stars):; and Nov. 7th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Triangle Theater Review’s Nov. 5th preview by Robert W. McDowell, click

Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre present CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 and 11 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $30.10-$89.35 (including fees).


Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

SHOW: and

VIDEO PREVIEWS: (YouTube channel).


Broadway Series South:

North Carolina Theatre:




NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh ( will audio describe the 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10th, performance.


The 1980 Book: (Wikipedia).

The 2002 Film: (official website), (Wikipedia), and (Internet Movie Database).

The 2011 Broadway Musical: (official Broadway website), (Wikipedia), and (Internet Broadway Database).

The Tour: (official website) and (Facebook).

Frank W. Abagnale, Jr.: (official website) and (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews

1 Response

  1. Saw the last show tonight and it was phenomenal! Best show yet. While I agree with critics that the first half was better, the music, singing and much of the dancing and choreography was great!