BWW Reviews: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Flies Into Raleigh
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by Larissa Mount
Prepare for takeoff – the national touring company of Catch Me if You Can is currently playing at the NC Theatre, in the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. Despite a few minutes fixing a technical snafu during opening night, the show is off and running, and audiences are enjoying the upbeat tale of running from the law.
Catch Me if You Can tells the true-life story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. and his exploits as a con-man, which escalated from passing bad checks to successfully posing as a pilot, doctor, and lawyer. The premise of the musical is that, when he is finally caught by the FBI at an airport, Frank decides to tell his story as if it were a 1960s TV variety show. There are back-up dancers and big musical numbers, along with a splash of romance, all entwined in a crime drama. The variety show backdrop meshes well with the style of the music.
The score, penned by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (the pair behind Hairspray, TV's Smash, and more), is a lively 60's pop-tastic affair. Some of the musical numbers clearly stand out as fantastic, including Carl Hanratty's (Merritt David Janes) anthem for all the good guys, "Don't Break the Rules," his nemesis Frank Abagnale, Jr.'s (Stephen Anthony) "Good-Bye," and Brenda Strong's (Aubrey Mae Davis) eleven o'clock belty ballad, "Fly, Fly Away."
The lively choreography by Jerry Mitchell keeps the show moving along, and the ensemble is incredibly hardworking. From jet-setting around the world with PanAm to working the night shift in an Atlanta hospital, the dancing ensemble is at the core of the show. It certainly doesn't hurt that they are working with two incredibly talented leads. Merritt David James is spot-on as Carl Hanratty, the likeable loser who wants to prove that good guys win, and up-and-comer Stephen Anthony is charismatic and energetic as the young con-artist Frank Abagnale, Jr.
The show sticks very closely to the Broadway staging, with only a few noticeable changes, namely a re-designed set fit for a show on the go, and a squeaky-clean, clothes-on rendition of the romantic ballad "Seven Wonders."
Catch Me if You Can is one of those shows which reminds us why we love theater – it's a feel-good show with real-world implications and a sparkly sport coat or two. Catch Me if You Can runs through November 11. For tickets and more information, visit www.nctheatre.com.