Theater Review: Catch Me If You Can

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TPAC’s Broadway Series presents:
Catch Me If You Can (Jan. 22 – 27; Ages 12 and older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 • tpac.org
Showtimes: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 and 8 p.m., Sun 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15 – $60

The recent trend of classic TV programs and Hollywood movies turning into Broadway shows is a tricky thing. There have been surefire hits and misses along the way, and the most recent one playing at TPAC this week — Catch Me If You Can — falls into the category of a misguided musical.

Most of the plot is based on the 2002 Steven Spielberg film of the same name that starred Leonardo DiCaprio, which in turn was based on the the real life story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a con artist who beginning at 16 years old spent two years cashing phony checks around the globe while pretending to be an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer.

Stephen Anthony plays the leading role, and the setup of the show itself is Frank Jr. telling his story as if he was the star of a TV variety show that features an on-stage orchestra, show girls and dance numbers. While Anthony, for the most part, has a solid singing voice, one of the show’s biggest misfires is the music itself. The songs don’t add much to the show due to the fact that they basically repeat what’s already been said in the dialogue. The mark of a really strong musical is one that leaves you with at least a couple of memorable tunes stuck in your head. Unfortunately for Catch Me If You Can, the music is mostly forgettable, which is a bit shocking considering Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman — the creators of the outstanding musical, Hairspray — are the ones behind it. Considering this, the show would have been better served as a straight play.

The execution of Jerry Mitchell’s choreography by the cast throughout the show is off and out of sync on several occasions (including an awkward kick line), but there are a few spots where smooth moves are evident.

The orchestra plays without a hitch, and including the musicians on stage versus having them play in the pit adds a lot to David Rockwell’s scenic design that also includes a giant screen at the back of the stage with vivid video animations, city skylines and other elements that visually enhance each scene. Overall, the set is actually the best part of the show.

Although Catch Me If You Can doesn’t resonate with me, there were some folks in the audience (mostly of an older generation) who seemingly enjoyed it … but the movie is much better.

 

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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