Rushing to the Neil Simon Theatre to see Catch Me If You Can before it closes on Broadway next month is a quintessential must!!!! As I sat counting down the minutes to the start of this performance, an anxious build kept escalating till the moment the curtains rise. I was eager to compare the movie to this adaption and get a firsthand account of why Norbert Leo Butz won the Tony Award. I also wanted to know what the fuss was about Aaron Tveit’s delivery while being transported through this story by the music and the lights.Based on a 1980 autobiography, Catch Me You Can was launched in 2002 as an American Biographical comedy-drama based on the life of Frank W. Abagnale Jr., who before his nineteenth birthday successfully executed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan American World Airways Pilot, a Georgia Doctor and a Louisiana Parish Prosecutor. Stephen Spielberg didn’t want to immortalize Abagnale for what he did 40 years ago as a teenager. He chose instead to celebrate him on film because of what he has done for his country as a leading authority for his more than 30 years with the FBI in secure documents, fraud and embezzlement. The film was a critical and financial success, and assuredly, every aspect of this musical adaptation was just as clever and riveting. The book is by Terrence McNally, music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and lyrics also by Scott Whitman. Though the majority of the plot for Catch Me You Can the Musical is borrowed from the film, the musical was simply a phenomenal Broadway experience.
As Frank Abagnale Jr, Aaron Tveit delivered a stellar performance. I first experienced his gift in Next To Normal. I was nervous because I was certain he couldn’t do better than that magnanimous performance but I was wrong. His vocals were mesmerizing and his innocence was exceedingly more captivating that Leonardo DiCaprio’s film rendition. I however must take this opportunity to lay the cards down about why Norbert Leo Butz won that Tony. Despite the fact that everyone held their own, he was the one who stole the show. His voice, comedic timing, moves, charisma and masterful portrayal of Agent Carl Hanratty were sheer genius. ‘Don’t Break The Rules’ is testament as to why he is and will always exist as a standard in my mind.
Tom Wopat as Frank Abagnale Sr and Rachel De Benedet as Paula were tré magnifique. Tom’s vocals and sinister appeal together with Pauls’s fluid sensuality won me every time they took the stage. And what would the show be without the comedic extravaganza of Nick Wyman as Roger Strong and Linda Hart as Carol Strong? However it was the performance of the Strong’s daughter Brenda, the love interest of Frank Anagnale Jr’s played chastely by Kerry Butler, that ripped everyone’s heart with her compelling rendition of ‘Fly Fly Away’.
Jerry Mitchell’s seamless choreography never looked grander and had me at the edge of my seat. The quality of the music was instrumental in setting the tone for this decadent era of intrigue. The orchestrations spoke to the soul with variations of jazz, big band music and resounded harmoniously from elaborate set pieces. In fact, the superb lighting created a beautiful balance for an ensemble that was pure perfection. The men were strong and the women spellbinding. Every move was brilliantly executed. And though it was difficult to focus on one person special mentions must be made to the exhilarating and unforgettable Kearann Giovanni and the luminous Grasan Kingsberry.
This masterpiece that Jack O’Brien has created with Catch Me If You Can will undoubtedly be heralded as supreme in the legacy of Broadway Directors for generations. I strongly urge to Catch it before the final curtain at the Neil Simon Theatre on September 4th, 2011.