Monday, June 6, 2011

Catch Me If You Can

On Wednesdays , at the Times Square Visitor Center, Seth Rudetsky records his weekly radio show for Sirius/XM On Broadway. He has different Broadway starts and others connected with theatre come in and he will interview them and sometimes you can hear previews of music from new cast recordings.

The Wednesday of my trip to the city, Seth had Aaron Tveit, lead in Catch Me If You Can, along with the two creators, Terrence McNally and Marc Shaiman on his show. And I was there. To be honest, although
Catch Me was on my radar, I didn’t have it in my plans to go see. Time and money were both issues, and this show had taken a backseat to others.

At the Wednesday recording of Seth’s show my opinion changed drastically. Aaron sang two songs from the show, “Seven Wonders” and “Goodbye”. After hearing Aaron sing these songs I had to see this show. Even after seeing the show, these songs are two of my favorites from the production.

If you know the movie Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, you pretty much know the plot line of this musical. In case you don’t, it is based on the true story of con-man Frank Abagnale, Jr. who ran away from home at the age of 16 and had written bad checks of over $2.5 million, as well as impersonated a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer by the time he was 21 years old.

I saw the movie when it first came out, and I had been following the development of the musical version since
I had seen Tveit in Next to Normal a few years ago. I was interested to see him on stage again and I knew I loved the movie. A musical version made me slightly wary, though.

The musical basically followed the same story as the movie version. However, there was lots of song, dance and color. Which I count as a wonderful thing. My seats at the show were amazing. With a discount ticket code, we got front row Mezzanine seats. Once again, the theatre was small enough that we were extremely close to the stage. I loved it.

The story starts out with Frank Abagnale being captured by Agent Carl Hanratty. It leads into the first number called “Live in Living Color” and it is every bit as colorful as its name. Throughout the show Tveit breaks the fourth wall and actually talks to the audience. Some people might find that disturbing, but I find it like a breath of fresh air. Frank Abagnale just wants to tell his story to the audience… live in living color. :)

The show immediately jumps back in time to his childhood home where you are introduced to his parents, Frank Sr, played with great gusto by Tom Wopat and Paula Abagnale. Paula was played by Rachel de Benedet, and in my opinion was the most graceful and beautiful dancer in the entire show. As the show progresses, you see the influence that Frank Jr’s father has on him, and the devastation he feels when his parents divorce, leading to his running away and subsequent fall into a life of swindling and impersonating.

When we’re introduced to Norbert Leo Butz’s character, Agent Hanratty, he let’s us in on his personality with the number “Don’t Break the Rules.” It’s fun, cute, and there are dancing men in FBI standard issued black suits. You can’t help but smile. Butz does a great job with becoming Hanratty. You like him, just as much as Abagnale likes him. When Abagnale called Hanratty just to have someone to talk on Christmas day, you knew there would be an interesting relationship between the tow.

I also have to point out that Kerry Butler, as Brenda, had a horrible, but brilliantly dealt with “moment” on stage during the number “Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year.” She has no lines and only had to walk across the stage at that point in the show. But her shoe got stuck in a crack in the stage. From where I was sitting you could see her jerk her foot a couple of times to try to get it lose and then seen the realization that she was going to have to do something run all over her face. She ended up leaving the shoe and continuing her walk with only one shoe. Luckily, right after that number the curtain came down for intermission. Otherwise, I don’t know what would have happened to that poor shoe.

Coming back from intermission shows Abagnale and Brenda meeting and eventually falling in love, while he is posing as a doctor. This is where the number “Seven Wonders” is in the show. And even as a duet between Brenda and Frank (instead of solo, as I heard Tveit sing it earlier in the week), the song was adorably sweet. Of course, after meeting her family under an assumed name, Hanratty catches up with Abagnale, forcing him to go on the run, and eventually be caught.

Another of my favorite numbers in the show is “Goodbye”, which Abagnale sings toward the end of the show, after he’s captured. It’s a great song that talks about how it is sometimes easier to tell your story YOUR way, instead of the whole truth. Sometimes, it’s just easier to leave the bad parts out.

Overall, my only complaint about the whole show was Kerry Butler’s (Brenda) solo song, “Fly, Fly Away.” She did a fantastic job singing it, the song itself was just a little underwhelming, in my opinion. This show was full of fun and fluff. Not the deepest show you’ll ever see, but if you’re looking for fun and lots of color, dancing, and singing, you can’t miss with this one.

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