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.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail 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

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).

1 comment

  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!

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