BWW Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

BWW Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

Arizona Broadway Theatre's production of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, directed and choreographed by Stephen Casey, makes for good summer fare. It's cool, innocuous, and passably entertaining. The problem is that ~ whether due to Terence McNally's superficial writing or the director's emphasis on glitz, kicks, and shticks ~ the nuanced story of the remarkable teenage impostor, Frank Abagnale, and his exploits gets lost in the crack lines.

What the 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks was able to capture ~ Frank's manic pursuit of an identity (multiple identities, to be sure!) to compensate for the one he lost in the throes of a troubled home life; his beleaguered relationship with his father; the begrudging respect of his Javert-like FBI pursuer, Agent Carl Hanratty; the psychology that drives the whole affair ~ the musical loses in the name of flash and fancy.

For whatever number of Tony nominations the show received in 2011, its attraction may lie more in the sequence of colorful kickass numbers than in the telling of the tale.

Sal Pavia ages down a bit to portray the young man on the run, the con man extraordinaire who poses as a substitute teacher, Pan Am pilot, and pediatrician. Pavia is a top-flight song and dance man, imbuing his role as Frank with exuberance and periodic flashes of emotion.

Matthew Mello is an equally adroit performer whose role as Hanratty doesn't fully blossom until the end of the show in a moving moment of connection between pursuer and pursued. Until then, he's the befuddled leader of an FBI team that is portrayed as a clueless cluster of inept buffoons, continually foiled by the wily and elusive impostor, skittering across the stage like Keystone Kops. With all the tomfoolery that has preceded their big hug (Stuck Together), we have nothing to lean on that makes the embrace credible. Nevertheless, at that point, Mello's Hanratty becomes more a sympathetic character than a cartoon.

What the show may lack in depth of character development is offset to an extent by the glamour of the production: Lottie Dixon's spectacular costumes; Jim Hunter's colorful set design, accentuated by a fashionable double staircase at the top of which Adam Berger's band reigns supreme.

And, a word about the band: Dazzling! From atop Hunter's high platform, and under Berger's baton, emanate the rich and full sounds of Liz Spencer's keyboard, Darren Cueva and Evan Pardi's bass, Mark Stolper's drums, John Eth's trombone, Erik Ketcherside's trombone, Kevin Blatchford's reeds, and Matthew Ventre's guitar.

There are too these special and noteworthy turns: the soulful crooning of Megan Moylan (as Brenda, Frank's true love interest) in Fly,Fly Away; Amy Burgmeier's flair as Brenda's mother in Our Family Tree; and Pavia and Moylan's tender duet in Seven Wonders.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN runs through August 12th at ABT's grand dinner theatre venue in Peoria, AZ.

Photo credit to Shari Corbett

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From This Author Herbert Paine

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