Bad Boy, Bad Boy: “Catch Me If You Can” Transforms Frank Abagnale’s Crimes into a 1960s Variety Show
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.
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).
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1515546.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.youtube.com/catchmethemusical (YouTube channel).
Broadway Series South: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/broadway-series-south.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10th, performance.
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).
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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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/.