We are so charmed by the singing, dancing a la Busby Berkeley, and the imaginative set design in beautiful Cadillac Palace Theatre”s production of “Catch Me if You Can”, that it is only later that we might ponder if the very subject matter of the story doesn’t quite lend itself to a musical comedy format.
Like the Spielberg film of same name, this is the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., who became one of world history’s most successful con artists and imposters before he was even 21. The real life story has no lack of drama, and perhaps it is the musical format’s inability to capture that real-life drama that leaves us a bit wanting in the end. That said, we are thoroughly entertained by this production and going to see it means afternoon or evening hours well-spent
We hear beautifully performed love songs by Stephen Anthony in the title role and his love interest Brenda played in perfect pitch by Aubrey Mae Davis.
True, we don’t feel the same longing we felt when Guinevere crooned for her Lancelot in Camelot nor certainly the magical pining for Maria in West Side Story. But we do hear good voices putting out a good tune.
Lack of musical talent from this stellar cast is certainly not the issue. Anthony, Janes and the entire ensemble delight us again and again with his perfect comedic timing in execution of lyrics.
Abagnole’s foil and counterpoint, FBI agent, Cart Hanratty played by Merritt David Janes ,does take us into his world of obsession to do his duty and capture Abagnale.
Chicago, no stranger to cops and robbers shows, has never seen as good a vaudevillian turn by the FBI. We laugh at their antics and we marvel at the fluidity of the dancing of the officers whom any Chicagoan could easily imagine loitering at the nearest Dunkin Donuts.
Perhaps most memorable is Stephen Anthony’s soliloquy song near the show’s close, “Goodbye”, where we hear Anthony’s range and resonance relatively undisturbed by the glitz of show girls or action. That competes for top show moment with the almost slapstick shtick of watching the FBI team do song and dance while affecting a film noir stance.
“Catch Me if You Can” is now on the road with a trip itinerary including: East Lansing, MI; Milwaukee, WI; Binghampton, NY; Detroit, MI; Hartford, CT; Utica, NY; Charlotte, NC; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Costa Mesa, CA. For dates and other details see www.catchmeontour.com .
We can only hope that extraordinary care will be taken with the creative and captivatingly simple set.
Imagine a curving bunny slope of the beginning skier providing the entrance point for FBI agents and long-legged chorus girls alike. The jazz band accompanists sit atop and behind the slope, except for the percussionist whom we view through a cutaway hole that sweeps in and out of our forefront view. Add colorful multimedia images with a crafted eye that puts that special touches such as making sure the “A” in the bar sign was faded and blinking to let you know you are on “that” side of town. Then add the artful display of diaphanous drapes at just the right moments to smooth along scene changes and set the tone Consider this creativity especially in light of the multi-million dollar sets we now see on the world’s trendier opera stages. Well done Broadway in Chicago, well done!
Photos by Carol Rosegg