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Monday, February 18, 2013

Catch Me If You Can at the Music Hall at Fair Park

The truth is I didn't know what to expect. Musicals created from movies can really go either way. And even with a good book and a good score, the wrong cast, designers, choreographer, costumer, and/or director and you've got a guaranteed flop.

Lucky for Catch Me If You Can, none of that is a problem. The book is very cute and the music fun, although you won't necessarily leave singing. The story, of course, is based on the film by the same name, which is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a fraud and con artist who managed to work as a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and a college teaching assistant. He was also known for kiting and forging checks.

It's a serious subject. But both the film and the musical take a mostly light-hearted view. Although the musical does have its dark moments as well.

The show begins at the end with Abagnale being caught and asking to be allowed to tell his story. The arresting officer says he won't allow Abagnale to put on a show, which of course, ends up being exactly what he does. Literally.

The show is great fun from the costumes, of which there are many, especially for the supporting cast, to the set and lighting design, which allows the stage to become everything from a police station to a hospital to an airport.

But what makes this show really tick is the cast. Both Stephen Anthony as Frank Abagnale, Jr. and Merritt David Janes as Carl Hanratty are nothing short of stellar. Anthony's singing voice will literally knock your socks off and Janes is impeccably convincing as the tough cop with a heart.

And the ensemble is amazing. They have more costume changes and dances to perform than seems possible. But they do it. And it's hard not to smile when they do. And the choreography is delightful to watch. Although it does make it a little tough to sit still!

It's equally tough not to be sad when Abagnale, Jr. is caught at the end. It's funny how a show can make you root for the "bad" guy. This is a clever, witty, light show that is definitely worth seeing. Word to the wise: it is a little bawdy for the younger set. But I sat next to a precocious sixth grader who loved it.

Just as an aside, the orchestra, which is also pitch perfect, is on-stage throughout the show. So, it's possible to get seats in the pit. Do it if you can. I thought it would be too close. But it was actually an amazing POV from which to watch the show.

An excellent start to the Dallas Summer Musicals season. Looking forward to what's to come!

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