|Aaron Tveit (center)|
|Norbert Leo Butz|
(all production photos: Joan Marcus)
Originally directed on film by Steven Spielberg and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, “Catch Me If You Can” would hardly seem like a subject matter begging for a stage musical treatment.
But with the talents that brought the megahit “Hairprsay” to Broadway working together again on another film-to-stage adaptation set in the same time period, it would appear that lighting would strike twice. That team includes composer Marc Shaiman and lyricist Scott Wittman, director Jack O’Brien, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and the same designers (David Rockwell, sets; William Ivey Long, costumes; Kenneth Postner, lighting). New to the party is Tony Award winning book writer Terrence McNally (“Ragtime,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman”). The new musical is even taking up residence at the the Neil Simon Theatre where “Hairspray” triumphed for over six years.
Previewing the show with a digital copy of the cast recording, the score by Shaiman and Wittman is less infectious than “Hairspray” but the songs in “Catch Me” do have a certain ease about them. Writing within the constraints that could have easily fallen prey to sound like Harry Connick, Jr. CD filler, the opening song “Live In Living Color” is a bouncy opening production number for the ensemble and leading man Tveit and makes for a promising start to the show. Other highlights include “Butter Outta Cream” which is a fun duet for Frank Junior and Senior (Tom Wopat) and “Seven Wonders” a plaintive love song between Frank, Jr and candy-striper Brenda Strong (Kerry Butler).
|Aaron Tveit and Tom Wopat|
|Aaron Tveit and Kerry Butler|
|Rachel de Benedet|
Staged to resemble a television variety show, Frank, Jr. narrates as host to his own story. The show could have been called scenes from “Catch Me If You Can” as the musical jumps to each musical highlight rather than building the story and characters. Also one point of fun in the movie was scene after scene of Frank, Jr swindling his way through another scam. In this musical these scams carry far less dramatic weight. It is a shame because elements in the show give a hint of a musical that could have worked better under a different storytelling device. The show is intriguing if underwhelming.
|Norbert Leo Butz|
|Candice Marie Woods and Aaron Tveit|
Tveit actually has very little to work with as shades and development of his character are built mainly through his narration. But at least he always looks smart, smooth and sharp throughout the evening. One thing about Tveit is he has one of the better pop voices on Broadway and works wonders with his songs and is especially strong in “Goodbye” and “Someone Else’s Skin”.
“Goodbye” is one of the best songs in the score should have been the number to end the show. Though “Stuck Together” is a fine jazzy and showy duet for the two leads and which is the show's actual final number, “Goodbye” would have made for a far more dramatic and defiant ending.
|Aaron Tveit (center)|
Mitchell’s choreography is built into several major ensemble numbers but though “Doctor’s Orders” and “Jet Set” are fun, they detract from the colorful characters and actors populating the show. Rockwell’s big band set is the main backdrop of the show with scenes telescoped on to prop pieces sliding in to set time and place and all displayed in an appropriate 1960's color palette.
The musical will definitely have a life beyond Broadway. The recognizable title and economic staging will make the property attractive to theatre companies across the country when the rights become available. Make no mistake -- I do not dislike this musical. Just the variety show device. Good songs are there and good performances keep the show entertaining. But this musical could have been something great.
|Aaron Tveit (left) and members of the cast.|
- Website: catchmethemusical.com
- Where: Neil Simon Theatre
- Location: 250 West 52nd Street, New York City
- When: Tue & Thu 7pm; Wed, Fri & Sat 8pm; Wed & Sat 2pm; Sun 3pm
- Running Time: 2 hrs 30 min
- Ticket Prices: $62-$137
- Opening: Apr 10, 2011 (previews from Mar 11, 2011)
- Closing: Open Run*
- Book Online: ticketmaster.com
- Book by Phone: 1-800-755-4000
- Cast Recording: Catch Me If You Can - Original Broadway Cast Recording
*08/09/2011 Update: Producers announced the musical will close on Sep 4, 2011 having played 170 regular performances and 32 previews.
|Norbert Leo Butz among the FBI agents.|
|Tom Wopat and Norbert Leo Butz|