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"Catch Me If You Can": Live in bright, moving, kind of distracting color
Catch Me If You Can (the current Broadway tour, now on the Orpheum stage until December 16th) was a total jumble of color, emotion, and leotard-clad dancers. The music and script are based around the life of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a remarkable con artist who ran away from home at 16 and forged documents from ID cards to college diplomas. Without ever actually learning a trade other than fraud, he became a commercial airplane pilot, a lawyer, and a doctor. The script and music were excellently written, balanced cleanly between hokey and witty. Unfortunately, the production values weren't quite on par.
The set consisted of several large panels that shifted and moved to become several different locations, a very distracting and ever-changing projector in the background, and an upstage ramp that had a somewhat intimidating tilt to it. The panels were simple, which allowed more attention to be given to the actual plot, but the projector screen did anything but that. It was huge and gaudy, and though there were a few instances where it truly enhanced the acting, there were far more where the theatrical values were overshadowed. The screen often had a graphic that corresponded with the action onstage, and if one was a beat or two ahead of the other, that whole sequence appeared less polished, regardless of how it really was. The ramp in the back provided a good entrance or exit location, but I found it a bit stressful. As someone who has often walked in heels, that angle would've had both my ankles broken in an instant, and there were sometimes more than five dancers in heels moving on the platform at one time! I was almost expecting someone to fall, which made it harder to appreciate the actual dancing and singing. The costumes surprised me. I hadn't had any idea how short a skirt could be or how many ways you could style a leotard until I saw this show. All the female costumes, except for maybe 4 or 5, were various combinations of fans, swimsuits, blazers, and miniskirts, and rarely more than 2 of these at a time. All the men wore suits, except for Frank's letter jacket, and a few male nurses. I thought the women's lack of clothing was out of place in the time period, in the show, and really took away from the legitimacy of the whole thing.
The acting was, for the most part, phenomenal. Frank, played by Stephen Anthony, was the perfect balance. Despite being this manipulative, scheming sleaze, he remained a genuine, likeable character. However, the real star in my eyes was the FBI agent tracking Abagnale, Agent Carl Hanratty (Merritt David Janes). His singing was fantastic, and everything he did had emotion backing it. He was a very 3D character, and had the audience rooting for him from the beginning. Frank's love interest, Brenda Strong (Aubrey Mae Davis) seemed to blend into the background at first. She appeared to be just the blue-eyed, blonde girl next door. She soon burst out of that shell, belting her way through a beautifully emotional "Fly, Fly Away." She did a stellar job, and created one of the highlights of the show.
By overall standards, I'd say this show earned three stars out of five, but because of the few brilliant actors, I'd say four and a half. I'd definitely recommend it if you aren't looking to take anything too seriously, but want to see some flashy dancing and have a few good laughs.
910 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403