Catch Me If You Can -- Entertaining Fun

By Karen Isaacs

Catch Me If You Can, the short-lived Broadway musical now at the Bushnell through June 2 provides an entertaining evening, though it never reaches the heights.

The show, with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman (he wrote Hairspray), lyrics by Scott Wittman and book by Terrence McNally is based on the movie of the same name. It tells the story of Frank Abagnale,Jr., who has a teenager begins passing checks and soon moves on to masquerading as an airline pilot, doctor and lawyer among other professions.  It also tells the story of the FBI agent, Carl Hanratty who doggedly pursues him.

The show is presented, at least at times, as 1950s variety show. Sometimes this works very cleverly as when Frank's tools of the trade to make false IDs become the typical dancing "product" girls on TV of the period.

Part of the problem with this show, which had an excellent cast but short run last season on Broadway, is Act 1. It somehow just did not capture the audience or this critic. Part of the problem is that it is hard to identify with a teenager who has no moral compass; sociopaths don't necessarily make good heroes.

But if act one drags, act two is well worth waiting for; the songs seems better and the characters seem more sympathetic.

Stephen Anthony is a talented newcomer who plays Frank with a baby face innocence.  But he seems to look almost too young; it becomes less plausible that people would accept him in his many professional personas. Plus, he doesn't the charm of, let's say, J. Pierpont Finch in How to Succeed¸ a better musical about another manipulator.

The rest of the cast does a serviceable job with Merritt David Janes as Hanratty, Dominic Fortuna as Frank's father and Caitlyn Maloney as his mother and Audrey Mae Davis as the principal love interest.

Is this a great musical?  No though there were some good songs that I would like to hear again. But you will have a fun time at this production of Catch Me If You Can.

Catch Me If You Can is at the Bushnell in Hartford through June 2. Tickets are available at www.bushnell.org.

 

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