Catch Me if You Can
5th Avenue Theatre
July 23rd-August 16th
Tickets and Information
There’s something special about the opening night of a new show. Neither the waiting audience nor the frantic theater employees quite know what will happen. They bustle around in anticipation of the night’s surprises; hoping and dreaming about the possibilities. Tonight, the 5th Ave brought us this energy outside and inside the theater with the world premiere of Catch Me if You Can.
This new musical takes its story from the true life accounts of one Frank Abagnale Jr. who by the age of 21 had swindled over $2 million by impersonating a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. After his parents’ divorce, Frank runs away from home in the hopes of finding the resources to reunite his family. In the process of pretending to be someone else he ends up discovering love, acceptance, and purpose. This show puts a new spin on a plot that has been told in Abagnale’s own words and a movie of the same name.
The whole production is built around the idea that the world is Frank’s own personal variety show. All the theatrical elements recreate the essence of the classic, all-out productions that peppered television in the 1960s and 70s. Though accurate in its homage to that era, the production never lost connection to its modern audience. David Rockwell’s cleverly simplistic set seamlessly propelled the audience along with Frank on his adventures. Bob Mackie, being a legend in himself, created costumes with flair and pizzazz. Holding it all together onstage, the band, under the direction of John McDaniel, becomes a supporting character in its own right.
The entire ensemble electrifies. It doesn’t matter if steps are missed or lines are lost due to microphone malfunctions; the energy vibrated through the theater. Aaron Tveit plays a captivating and honest Frank Jr., effectively balancing both the charismatic and troubled sides of a complicated teenager. As FBI agent Carl Hanratty, Norbert Leo Butz breathes charm and life into the character that brings reality to Frank’s fantasy. Kerry Butler shines as the sweet young nurse who finally slows Frank down long enough to see what is really important in his life.
Under the skilled direction of Jack O’Brien, the show dazzles and entertains while still maintaining a purposeful focus on Frank’s story. Jerry Mitchell’s inventive choreography shapes many of the memorable moments of the show. The artistic styling of both the directing and choreography, along with all other production elements, works cohesively to enhance the night’s experience.
In short, Catch Me if You Can is one of the best shows you will see all year. Buy your ticket now, and “catch” this premiere event in Seattle before it flies away to Broadway.
Review by Kacey Shiflet and Andrew Swanson