I think this is turning out to be a great season for Broadway hits! Last night I the new musical "CATCH ME IF YOU CAN" at the Neil Simon Theatre! It has all the makings of what a Broadway musical should be: a great story, catchy songs, and an exceptionally dynamic cast!
If the title sounds familiar its because Steven Spielberg made a film version of the book by Frank W. Abagnale Jr. in 2002. If you don't know the story of Frank W. Abagnale Jr., its a fantastic true tale of a teenager who, by the age of 21, was a self-made millionaire. It was his way of making the money that makes the story all the more interesting: he forged millions of dollars of rubber checks. It was his illegal actions that led to the overhaul of how the banking industry now regulates the checking process. Along the way he successfully impersonates an airline pilot with PanAm, a doctor in an emergency room, and a legal processor. The FBI are hot on his trail when he evades capture by impersonating yet another government official! It isn't really that hard to believe that this is a true story! The story begins in 1964 when writing checks was a whole lot different than we do today. Doesn't anybody remember when it took 5 to 7 business days for an out-of-state check to clear?
Another reason why I LOVED this show was because the book (by Terrence McNally) totally flows cohesively with great tunes by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. I actually found myself singing along (to myself) to several of the songs while the performers sang them! It's a good feeling when you can walk out of a musical humming the tunes that you have just enjoyed on stage. They stay with you for a long time (and in a good way too)!
But what is a show without great performances? This one had TONS! Mostly broadway vets that, if you have seen Hairspray, Next to Normal or Wicked, are not hard to forget! The stand-out performance goes to Aaron Tveit as the very charismatic Frank Abagnale Jr.(played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film) What a VOICE this kid has on him! I wished I had seen him in Next to Normal when he was in it! Added to the mix are Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz as Agent
Carl Hanratty (played by Tom Hanks in the film), the still hot after all these years - Tom Wopat as Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken in film), and the always talented Kerry Butler as Frank's girlfriend, Brenda Strong (played by Amy Adams in the film). Great direction by Jack O'Brien and fantastic choreography by Jerry Mitchell! Dude, I really LOVED this show!
With the exception of "Shindler's List", "The Color Purple", "Jaws" and the Indiana Jones films - I'm not a super big fan of Spielberg movies. His film version of "Catch Me If You Can" isn't even in my video library. I can honestly say that this new musical adaptation is exponentially better than the film! It takes you on a journey that you can never forget!
If you want to see a great old-fashion musical, treat yourself to CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!
Be warned however: the Neil Simon theatre is an old Broadway theatre. Old, as in, when they put the seats in there originally, theater-goers were are lot smaller than we are today! But if you are like me, it's a pleasurable pain being squeezed for 2 1/2 hours!