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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 BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh article by Larissa Mount: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/Frank-Abagnale-Jr-Visits-Raleigh-to-Talk-CATCH-ME-IF-YOU-CAN-20121110 and Nov. 8th review by Larissa Mount: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-Reviews-CATCH-ME-IF-YOU-CAN-Flies-Into-Raleigh-20121108; Nov. 9th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Byron Woods (who awards the show 3.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/artery/archives/2012/11/09/catch-me-if-you-can-soars-on-live-jumping-jivebefore-a-bumpy-landing; and Nov. 7th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/11/07/2468285/review-catch-me-if-you-can-is.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Triangle Theater Review’s Nov. 5th preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/11/tony-award-nominee-catch-me-if-you-can-tells-the-story-of-legendary-con-man-frank-abagnale/.)

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).

BOX OFFICE:

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1515546.

SHOW: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/event/catchmeifyoucan-2639 and http://nctheatre.com/shows/catch-me-if-you-can.

VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.youtube.com/catchmethemusical (YouTube channel).

PRESENTERS:

Broadway Series South: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/broadway-series-south.

North Carolina Theatre: http://nctheatre.com/.

VENUE: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/venue/memorial-auditorium.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/directions.

PARKING: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/parking.

NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10th, performance.

OTHER LINKS:

The 1980 Book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch_Me_if_You_Can_(book) (Wikipedia).

The 2002 Film: http://www.dreamworks.com/catchthem/jump2.html (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch_Me_If_You_Can (Wikipedia), and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264464/ (Internet Movie Database).

The 2011 Broadway Musical: http://www.catchmethemusical.com/ (official Broadway website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch_Me_If_You_Can_(musical) (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=488875 (Internet Broadway Database).

The Tour: http://www.CatchMeOnTour.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/catchmethemusical (Facebook).

Frank W. Abagnale, Jr.: http://www.abagnale.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Abagnale (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

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.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.


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1 Responses »

  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!