Saturday, October 15, 2011

Catch Me if You can (Musical Review)

Last but not least was the musical based on a true story about Frank Abignale, Jr. If you watched the 2002 movie adaptation, staring Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Hanks (which I hope to watch and review soon!), you know I am talking about none other than: Catch Me If You Can!

The theatre which this musical adaptation was shown was the Neil Simon Theatre. This was a theatre I passed a few times on my explorations of the city. In fact, the first day I was in the “Big Apple”, I ate dinner with my parents (who were also with me on the trip) at a good restaurant right across from Neil Simon, so I knew exactly where it was located. The inside of the theatre had an older feel to it, which seemed appropriate given the time period of the musical. The style of the architecture seemed to have either Roman or Greek (not sure which), though that doesn’t seem important.

Just like the three performances before this one, our seats were wonderful! I can say that my seat (row F seat 14) was really close to the stage as tt was in the sixth row. No complaints what-so-ever! 

Photo Caption: this was the second best curtain. it looks like clouds...was some sort of projection...

Frank Abagnale Jr. (played here by Aaron Tveit) was a con man. Under the guise of a Pan Am pilot, supervising resident doctor and a lawyer, he cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks. I point out that he had no flying, medical, or law experience and did not even finish high school. On his adventures around the world, he was chased by several world agencies including the FBI and did I mention he was under 21?
Along the way, he romances tones of stewardess, nurses, and so many other women. One woman (played Kerry Butler), of course, would be his down fall. However, I won’t say anything more as that would roughen all the fun! 

Needless to say, this is a very intense funny musical. Think of it like a real life version of Oceans 11, except this time there was more than one con and more than one focus of the con. I am really surprised all that Abigdale did while being in his teenage years and without going through high school.

Aaron Tveit (aka Frank Abagnale Jr.) was great. He had this wonderful voice and was charming. At several points in the musical, he broke the fourth wall and became the narrator of the show. This was very entertaining! I think Mr. Tveit will go far…

The FBI agent who was chasing Frank, Carl Hanratty, was portrayed that night by Nick Kenkel. This was actually his first time playing this part, because he was standing in for Norbert Leo Butz (who had been in the role for the tonys and also most of the other productions). Mr. Kenkel was previously just one of the agents, but that night he had his big break. For his first time as that role, he did a really good job! Very cool!

The whole cast was actually really good and should be congratulated for their excellence.

Cultural References
Being a musical based on a real life event (if changed slightly), there are references to real life culture icons. For example, there are many references to the DC comic character known as the Flash. In a scene where Frank is shown as being around sixteen or so, he joyfully reads Flash #1, which was a real comic published in 1959, which is 4 years before the more recent scenes in the musical takes place (which makes sense as these are within a childhood flashback). Later on, he even uses the alias of Barry Allen, who is the alter ego of the Flash.

This is the comic I was talking about


One interesting thing about this musical was the set.  We’ve seen four different sets on our trip, but this was unique in a few ways. Sure, it wasn’t dark and spooky like Addams Family, or comic book-esque like Spiderman, or even flashy like How to Succeed, but it was colorful. Its vibrant colors gave the show sort of an air of fantasy and magic to the story, while continuing to be based on reality. Even the costumes were flashy and over the top, truly “taking [us] for a spin” (to barrow from the first song).

Another fascinating thing about this production was where the orquestra was located. In the other performances we’ve seen reviewed here, the orcastra was in the orquestra pit right in front of the stage. This performance’s orcastra, however, was different in that it was on the stage it self. The part I could see reminded me of a normal band you see in the movies at one of those older night clubs. They were on this pink flout-like stand. I know that doesn’t really describe what it was, but its really hard to explain. On one end was the Orquesta and the other, there were tables for some of the actors could sit in the background. So, basically, the orquestra was a backdrop, the music maker and part of the action at some points.

Another interesting thing which made this different was what happened afterward. After the performance, there was a question and answer session with Aaron Tveit. Very insightful. He talked about past works and how the current work is doing. Basically, there was the usual questions you would expect to hear at this sort of thing (even the will you marry me question, which I want to say I did not ask). So, here goes the Ponsonby Britt Report’s first exclusive thanks to my notes:

 What is this role like?
  • tiring but worth it
How did you prepare for this role?
  • read book, talked with real Frank W. Abagnale Jr.
Will you marry me?
  • I’m pretty busy right now
How is acting in a professional  way like?
  • loves what he does
  • never gets old, never gets stale
  • “they want to see you agiant, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke” (referring to casting directors)
  • long hours
After that, we went outside and got that same actor to sign my play bill. Also, we got the assistant director to sign. He was so thrilled when we asked after we had chatted for a little bit about the actors work and such. Made his day! Or rather night!

Photo caption: Aaron is signing and the assistant Director is behind him
Permanent Marker is Aaron, Pen is Assist. Director
This was a very fun musical. It was sort of like a modern version of Music Man plus a little more reality to it.  This musical really was a great way to end my trip to broadway and I’m glad I went and saw it! It was a great show and it really made my day when I saw it! I’m not sure what one is my favorite. They have all been great and I look forward to memorized songs and singing these songs.

Once again, I don’t own Catch Me If You Can, and at the moment I don’t know who does…I guess Frank Abignale…but I’m not sure.

 The following was from the Tony Award proformence which has two great songs:

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