Friday, November 16, 2012

Kravis Center: Catch Me If You Can (reviews)

The national tour of Catch Me If You Can; The Musical opened at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on November 16, 2012.
Based on the hit DreamWorks film and the incredible true story that inspired it, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the high-flying, splashy new Broadway musical that tells the story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who runs away from home in search of the glamorous life. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big 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.
Mat Lenz recreates Jack O'Brien's direction, with a cast that included Stephen Anthony, Merritt David Janes, and Dominic Fortuna.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Who knows what initially made these folks think this was a property that begged to be musicalized – besides the potential fiscal rewards of a show set in the hot Mad Men era and the pre-sold buzz based on the film title. 

But there is something askew and ultimately unsatisfying despite Marc Shaiman’s breezy pastiche of a score, the off-and-on wit of the lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the wry recreation of the period’s choreography by Jerry Mitchell, a book by Terrence McNally that layers a bit of emotional depth, and a winning lead performance by the young Miamian Stephen Anthony.
The blame likely lies with the artistic premise nursed by director Jack O’Brien that doesn’t take its story seriously.... The entire show also feels like McNally and company are sketching out plot and character points from an outline.
One of this production’s several virtues is Anthony (not to be confused by the local actor Steve G. Anthony who is old enough to be this one’s father). ...his energy made him stand out among an equally impressive corps of 24 actors, dancers and singers.
Merritt David Janes is appropriately straight-arrow nerd as Hanratty, whose devotion to his unsexy area of crime expertise has cost him a wife and much of an outside life.
Dominic Fortuna, with his mellow baritone, may be the most effective actor on stage with his portrayal of Frank”s father...
Special credit is due Music Director Matthew Smedal and a razor sharp on-stage band in snappy tuxedos who handle Shaiman’s eclectic score from swing to blues with the skill of a veteran bartender mixing a fine martini. producers Troika Entertainment for spending some cash on the splashy look of the show as well as a large cast. (We’ll guess the weekly payroll is made feasible by non-Equity contracts).

In the end, Catch Me If You Can is an eminently likeable, finger-snapping evening that will please you while you’re in the audience, but won’t stick in your brain or heart longer than it’ll take you to drive out of the parking garage.
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach Artspaper:
The concept musical was an invention of the 1970s, typified by Chicago, which couched a tale of murders in Cook County as a series of vaudeville turns. When it works, the results are dazzling. When it doesn’t, you have a dull misfire like Catch Me If You Can, currently on view at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
The idea seemed to have promise, but the show’s creative team ― almost all of whom turned Hairspray into Broadway gold ― paints itself into a corner.
Matt Lenz recreates Jack O’Brien’s staging and while his cast is mostly new to national tours, they certainly have the vocal and acting skills to put the material across. The same goes for Nick Kenkel’s recreation of Jerry Mitchell’s choreography, primarily setting in motion a chorus of leggy chorines, shades of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers
Recent FSU grad Stephen Anthony takes the show’s reins as Frank Jr., radiating sufficient charisma to endear himself to the audience, despite the character’s larcenous ways. Stopping him from running away, and running away with the production, is Merritt David Janes as Hanratty, also a source of theatergoer sympathies is hard to deny that a team of Broadway veterans like this show has should have come up with something that packs more theatrical wallop. The cast is fine, the electronic design is a wonder. The only catch is Catch Me If You Can really isn’t good enough to bother with.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for The Palm Beach Daily News:
Stephen Anthony’s skill in communicating Abagnale’s innocent playfulness is the grease that makes the wheels spin in this flashy high-spirited musical...
Dominic Fortuna nails Frank’s smarmy father and his baritone voice glows in Butter Outta Cream and The Pinstripes are All That They See...
The ingenious set design is almost a character in itself. A screen at the back of the stage displays eye-popping three-dimensional projections that establish the technicolor world where Frank skips through his crimes. Hanratty’s crime-fighting universe is painted in claustrophobic black and white.
With its strong casting and outside-the-box presentation, Catch Me If You Can gets the Kravis’ Broadway series off to a running start.
Catch Me If You Can ends its brief engagement at the Kravis Center on November 18, 2012.

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