Catch Me If You Can June 20-23; Thursday-Sunday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 2 p.m.; $24-$129. Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall, 749-2000.
Catch Me If You Can, the musical based on the movie of the same name, is a candy-colored true-crime story, telling the remarkable rise and fall of con man Frank Abagnale, Jr., who walked away with nearly $2 million in a couple of short years in the 1960s. Unfortunately, while flashy, this musical didn’t steal my heart.
The musical is structured as one long flashback, with Frank, Jr. (played by Stephen Anthony) telling FBI Agent Hanratty (Merritt David Janes) why he lied and stole as he did. Spoiler alert: It’s because he had a bad childhood. Any further elaboration on this theme fails to deepen it, so it ends up feeling like a cheap rationalization, undermining any emotional payoff of the growing bond between Frank, Jr. and Hanratty.
Which is not to say this show doesn’t have its pleasures. Anthony is irrepressible as Frank, Jr. Gawky yet smooth, Anthony is a grand emcee of his own life, energetic in his attempts and surprised at all his successes, finally culminating in the frantic number “Goodbye.” Anthony’s performance is impressive but can only go so deep with the material. His foil Janes was in great voice but lacked a certain anarchic spark. As the love interest Brenda, Aubrey Mae Davis is absolutely adorable and carries the funny bits well—but since her final torch song (while well-sung) is just two ticks away from camp I simply couldn’t take it seriously.
Matt Lenz has recreated director Jack O’Brien’s beautiful stage pictures, particularly when showcasing the duality of some of the characters. He is helped in this with gorgeous lighting from Kenneth Posner and David Rockwell’s stylized set, a simple swooping curve that works well to hold the show’s supper-club styled band. Bob Bonniol’s video design is gorgeous, mod, lush or glam as the show requires. Choreographer Jerry Mitchell showcases a variety of styles throughout, with a sharp kickline in “Jet Set” or a glamorous partner dance in “Don’t Be a Stranger.” But still, in the end, the show didn’t offer enough for me to try and chase it down.