“Catch Me If You Can” soars at the Marcus
An authentic '60s musical vibe cribbed from "Hairspray" supports a strong cast, vibrant sets and high-kicking choreography.
Tuesday, the Marcus Center hosted Catch Me If You Can, the unbelievable true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a world-class con man who embezzled millions while passing himself off alternately as a pilot, doctor and lawyer – all before his 21st birthday. Abagnale’s story has already been a bestselling autobiography and award-winning film, but its latest incarnation is a Broadway musical on its first-ever national tour – a re-invention that perfectly captures its ’60s vibe and features strong performances from its cast.
The musical’s songs suit its time period down to the last note, a mix of jazzy swing music and upbeat ensemble numbers. Not each is as catchy as they should be, but Catch Me If You Can hits its stride in the second act, with powerful solos like “Fly, Fly, Fly” and “Good-Bye” and harmonies pieces like “Little Boy, Be a Man” and “Don’t Be A Stranger.” A full orchestra is seen onstage in most scenes, featuring smooth saxophone and oboe solos for the slower jazz numbers, and a raging drum and trumpet for the faster, upbeat dance numbers.
More than anything, the score resembles that of Hairspray, which many members of the production team, including the music and lyrics team of Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and director Jack O’Brien, previously worked together on. But while the high-energy, nostalgic score is a clear influence on the new musical, a film noir sensibility is at play as well.
Part of the success of Catch Me If You Can is in the way it looks as much as the way it sounds. The choreography is tailor-made for each song and character, with Hanratty’s moves reflecting his straitlaced persona and Frank Jr.’s more emblematic of his wily nature, and a chorus line of male and female dancers often join the lead cast for fast-paced dance moves. The lighting, scene changes, and backdrop animation were effective as well, making quick, seamless scene changes seem to last a blink of the eye. This mastered art of scene progression made the two and a half hour musical fly by, taking audiences on a funny, high-kicking chase across the globe.
Catch Me If You Can runs at the Marcus Center through April 28. Ticket prices start at $30 and can be purchased at (414) 273-7106 or online.