‘Catch Me if You Can’ playfully nostalgic
By Hedy Weiss Theater Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org April 3, 2013 5:38PM
"Catch Me If You Can" the stage musical. | Photo By Carol Rosegg
‘CATCH ME IF YOU CAN’
When: Through April 14
Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph
Info: (800) 775-2000; www.BroadwayIn
Run time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission
Updated: May 5, 2013 1:56PM
Most bright guys between the ages of 16 and 21 spend their time getting through high school, college or a first job and finding a girlfriend. But Frank Abagnale Jr. enjoyed a whirlwind life that could only be imagined in the movies, or on Broadway.
Abagnale lived it all for real — spending his salad days as the most hapless but successful of confidence tricksters, check forgers, counterfeiters, impostors and escape artists. And though caught by a dogged FBI agent, after serving seven years of a 15-year prison sentence he eventually emerged as the head of his own business, advising many, including the F.B.I., on fraud issues.
It was only decades later that his story got the big screen treatment by Stephen Spielberg, and subsequently was musicalized with a swinging score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (of “Hairspray” fame), and a book by Terrence McNally that gently massages the facts.
“Catch Me If You Can” is now on stage at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in a high-energy, enjoyable, non-Equity national touring production. And here’s the good news: Not only is there the rare solid attempt at old-fashioned male-female relationships, but beyond that there is a big, brassy orchestra on stage to play the jazzy score — a pastiche of 1950s and early ’60s supper club and variety show styles. There is a “child of divorce,” father-and-son story that explains many things. And there is a deliciously quirky case of mentoring, too. (Think of Javert embracing Jean Valjean in “Les Mis.”)
Abagnale’s story is set in motion at the moment of his capture. After blithely eluding authorities, amassing $2 million, and posing as an airline pilot, doctor and lawyer, the gig is up. But Frank (Stephen Anthony, a wiry, boyish-looking actor with a sensational voice and easeful acting chops) is innately theatrical and wants to explain his exploits with sound up, and a line of shapely chorus girls and other characters.
There is his dad (Dominic Fortuna, who looks like an extra in “The Sopranos”), who passes on his own scamming impulses to a son who finds he can both run and hide. There also is a chic French mom (Caitlin Maloney), who strays.
But most crucially there is Carl Hanratty (Merritt David Janes), a plodding but determined and totally unhip F.B.I. agent who wants to catch the youthful Frank alive. Janes, sweet and goofy, does a fine job with his big number, “Don’t Break the Rules,” and is an oddly winning surrogate dad to Frank. As for Frank’s love interest, she’s a nurse (big-voiced Aubrey Mae Davis), who may be jilted, but retains a soft spot for the guy.
The show’s ramped set is a mix of panels, curtains and projections. The best costumes are the pale blue suits worn by Pan Am stewardesses — almost enough to make you nostalgic for old-fashioned scams and identity theft.