BWW Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN at Candlelight Theatre
Based on the hit film and the improbable true story, Candlelight's CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the high-flying musical comedy about chasing your dreams and not getting caught. The show's maxim, "If you're gonna fake, fake til you make it"!
Seeking fame and fortune, precocious teenager, Frank Abagnale, Jr., (the charming Joe Canuso) runs away from home to begin an unforgettable adventure. (Let's face it, Director/Choreographer Dann Dunn's first thought in casting was charisma. Without the charm of a Travolta, a Cary Grant or, hmmm, a Leo DiCaprio, the audience would not believe anything this grifter says to his myriad of 'marks').
With nothing more than his boyish charm, a Brobdignagian imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer - living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams.
Frank's fraud and serial forgeries catch the attention of FBI agent, Carl Hanratty (Andy Spinoza, playing a convincing serious-minded stoical nerd; a far cry and half way round the world from his last role in SOUTH PACIFIC). Carl pursues the elusive Frank relentlessly across the country and makes it his mission to capture this consummate con man.
Dunn was the perfect choice for the production. He is adept not only in production numbers, the rocking opening "Live In Living Color", the high-kicking chorus line in "Jet Set" but also the more soul-searching, father-son duet of reconciliation in "Butter Outa Cream". His inventive and energizing choreography is a great pleasure to watch and the enthusiasm of his dancers is expressed in the gleeful joy on their faces. Among the variety of dances, methinks I witnessed a 'frug' tossed in for good measure. Page Nancy Sinatra! Aisle Say does not think there is a better choreographer in the tri-state region.
The ensemble of dancers was also employed as a Greek Chorus, moving the plot along and aiding in the development of Frank Jr's and Carl Hanratty characters.
When Frank Jr leaves home after his parent's divorce he laments "Our father's screw us up and then we grow up and do it all again". Upon hearing that line, I mused over how many men in the audience felt similarly. There are several dynamics of the fraught relationships between father and son, including the bar room duet between Frank Sr (Paul McElwee) and Spinoza's Hanratty. McElwee was persuasive and forceful in his character's drunken stupor soliloquy on his misbegotten life
The bewigged (don't know why) Paula Abagnale (Sophie Jones) displayed a lilting, French accent, as precise and definitive as Macron's take on Trump. Her voice rang out in all her numbers. Jones has irrefutable stage presence.
Carol Strong (Lindsay Mauck) was her usual entertaining self in leading the production number, "(Our) Family Tree".
Brenda Strong (Hannah Mehl), making her Candlelight debut along with sister Natalie, soared in "Fly, Fly Away". It touched the audience as a mini-version of "I Tell You I'm Not Going" from DREAMGIRLS. Canuso was equally commanding in "Good-Bye", Abagnale's epiphany on giving up the life of deception, the names he did not own and finally coming to peace with himself.
The white on white costumes of the dancers by Costumer Timothy Lamont Cannon were exciting. One would wish the upper backs of the dancers could be veiled to hide the mics. Otherwise, costuming was charmingly 60's period, especially the airline 'stews'.
Set Design by Jeff Reim was sheeny and sumptuous and accented beautifully by the Co-Lighting Designers Mathew Kator and Chris Miller and projections by Planet 10.
Wigs were great by Clayton Stacey. I question why Candlelight must do across the board wigs with every show.
The plot is set in the 60's. One of the detectives in Hanratty's detail had a fake Glock pistol. The Glock was created in 1982.
Through October 20
Candlelight Theatre 302.475.2313
Next Up: The 50th Anniversary of Candlelight on November 22. Alum from those many years (including moi) will be attending from around the states.
Christmas by Candlelight - November 16 - December 22