Frank Abagnale, Jr., became a household name when Stephen Spielberg directed the 2002 movie, “Catch Me If You Can,” which told the incredible, true story of the young con man who, not yet even 20 years old, had amassed millions of dollars in fraudulent money by passing phony checks and posing as an airline pilot for Pan Am, a doctor, and a state prosecutor, before the FBI finally caught up with him.
In March 2011, Abagnale, Jr., who, ironically, now works for the FBI, was again in the spotlight, as the Broadway musical version of “Catch Me If You Can” debuted at the Neil Simon Theatre. Despite a strong opening and a 2011 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical to Norbert Leo Butz, who plays FBI Agent Carl Hanratty, the show is closing on September 4. WGINY had the opportunity to catch a recent performance, and I am sad to see this show go.
“Catch me If You Can” is a light, colorful rock-and-roll romp through Abagnale’s cons and Hanratty’s pursuit of him. The show is also full of beautiful young female actresses and dancers with perfect hair and bodies, which is fitting as the character of Abagnale Jr., played by fresh-faced actor, Aaron Tveit, tells us that he first began his life of crime for women. “I like girls!,” Tveit, as Abignale, exclaims.
Tveit is joined by Tom Wopat, who plays Abagnale’s father, Frank Abagnale, Sr., and the two make a splendid father-son pair on stage. Both also impress with their classically Broadway voices.
Of course, the other exquisite pair in the show is Tveit and Butz, who, although they rarely appear on stage together, create a wonderful intrigue in the relationship between the characters they portray. After seeing Butz perform “Don’t Break the Rules,” (third video down) on the Tony Awards in June 2011, I had been highly anticipating the live show, and Butz’s energy, quirkiness and talent did not disappoint. Butz, who creates a commanding character as Agent Hanratty, also comes off as an unintentional comedian.
In fact, “Don’t Break the Rules” is one of my favorite songs from the show. Although a large part of the rest of the repertoire seems rather forgettable, the songs are light, pop-y and colorful, and you may dance in your seat, just a little bit, even if, subsequently, you don’t remember what you were dancing to.
The show’s choreography is also spot-on. Choreographer Jerry Mitchell has created sexy, vibrant dance numbers that perfectly complement the show’s upbeat style. You may forget that you are at a Broadway show and think that you are watching The Rockettes. Don’t discount Butz, either. Although he may not have long, lascivious legs, he is a star dancer, and even won the 2011 Astaire Award for best Broadway dancer for his moves in “Catch Me If You Can.” He tends to steal some of the show with his gruff voice and fancy footwork.
Overall, “Catch Me If You Can” is a delightful way to spend a few hours on Broadway, especially if you can find tickets at a discounted price. You can also purchase full-price tickets here, or, if you are a student with ID, you can purchase up to 2 tickets for $27 on the day of a performance (limited quantity available). Be sure to see it before it flies away on September 4.