BWW Review: You Have GOT To Catch CATCH ME IF YOU CAN At Greenville Theatre
I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to see Greenville Theatre's production of the musical Catch Me If You Can. I certainly didn't expect to be completely blown away.
Like me, you might remember the broad strokes of the movie (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg). Catch Me If You Can relates the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., who runs away from home at age 16 and manages to pass himself off as a pilot and a surgeon and an attorney for several years, all while passing bad checks and evading the dogged FBI agent on his trail. So what could turning it into a musical possibly add? Two words: razzle dazzle.
The musical version of this tale immediately presents itself as a glitzy, self-aware entertainment. The opening scene shows Frank (Andrew Anderson) finally being confronted by FBI Agent Hanratty (Evan Harris). But before allowing himself to be captured, Frank asks if we want to hear his story, to see his story, and "Live In Living Color," he presents it to us.
Director Suzanne McCalla put together an amazing cast and keeps the whole thing moving at a perfect clip. It's fun, funny, tuneful, and impeccably well-performed. And that extends to Kimberlee Ferreira's choreography, which pops and sparkles and never fails to impress, pulled off with precision by the entire company.
Andrew Anderson brings a winning charm and strong voice to the role of Frank. You can see why he's able to pull off his impersonations, and you can also see the conflict that bubbles underneath. Much of that conflict stems from his relationship with his father, Frank, Sr., brought to life by Rick Connor in a masterfully nuanced performance. These songs sit right in Connor's sweet spot, and he brings a lounge-singer touch to his numbers without ever venturing into caricature. It's one of the best things I've seen Connor do.
Similarly, Evan Harris impresses with a relaxed, unmannered performance as Agent Hanratty. His songs also sit in a great vocal spot for Harris, and he's able to almost talk-sing some of it to shining effect. I've seen Harris in a lot of shows over the years, and this is probably my very favorite of his performances.
Other highlights include Mary Freeman's floozy turn as Frank's mother - she has a great time in the duet (with Rick Connor) "Don't Be A Stranger" - and Claire Clauson's warm and bright-eyed ingunue, Brenda, whose "Fly, Fly Away," brought down the house. Also, you will never forget Austin Smith's teeth and Kristi Parker Byers' laughter.
All of these performances are enhanced by the dynamite ensemble, chock full of energetic dancers, constantly on the move. Michael Cherry, Loren Clark, Jamie Reidy, Helen Brock - well, I could just keep going. This is a show that could benefit from multiple viewings, there's so much going on in and around the dance numbers. It's just astonishing.
The rest of the tech crew also are at the top of their game, with music director Tim St. Clair II coaxing the gorgeous vocals, well balanced by Cory Granner's sound and beautifully lit by Graham Shaffer's lights on a fantastic set credited to The Brainiacs. They even managed to get some authentic Pan Am bags. It's all there. And icing on the cake is Thomas Brooks' gorgeous costumes that range from airline uniforms to showgirl glitz to some outstanding early-sixties suits.
On opening weekend, the real Frank Abagnale, Jr., who lives in Charleston with his wife, came to see the show. I wish I'd been there to see the joy on his face, because if it was anywhere near the joy that I felt, that would've been something really special to catch.
The show runs through June 23 at Greenville Theatre in Greenville, SC. Don't miss it.
Photo: Wallace Krebs