Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flying on Broadway...not Spider-Man

Aaron Tvieit as Frank Abagnale, Jr.
When I heard they were making Catch Me If You Can into a musical, I will admit...I had not seen the movie. So a few months ago, I watched it. I remember thinking the movie felt long as we followed the true life tale of this young con man. Then my next thought was "how the heck are they going to put this on stage?" Knowing the musical team behind Hairspray was at the helm, I then thought with sarcasm "great, they are hitting the 60s again with this musical." Well, one should not go into a musical with so many preconceived notions. I was instantly pulled into this (yet another musical based on movie) by the way that Terrence McNally (whom I love as a playwright) chose to tell the story. Frank acts as the narrator of his own life - much the way Will Rogers did in The Will Rogers Follies. Only instead of a follies, we have a TV type variety show that really 'works' for this theater-goer. The music never reminded me of Hairspray, yet fit the style of the show very well. I will admit there are some songs that could probably go and no one would miss them, but the show moved along quickly - so it didn't bother me. Knowing it is necessary to build some tension in a show and give us characters to care about, the creative team has built up the role of the FBI agent (played brilliantly by Norbert Leo Butz) and created a parallel between him and Frank (Aaron Tveit who was wonderful in Next to Normal). 
Leonardo Dicaprio in the movie version
While driving home, I thought about the show - still believing I had been entertained (for my discount ticket price), but believed something was missing in the main character. Not from Tveit's performance as his voice, stamina, and acting were all top notch. But somehow the character isn't fleshed out enough to be giving different levels to play until the very end. I wish they would have re-thought that to let the audience in sooner on more of his heart and less of his smile. That said (and though critics didn't rave this past Sunday when it opened & it personally didn't thrill me as much as Mormon or Priscilla), I believe it's a welcome addition to Broadway and will keep audiences very entertained. (If you get a chance: listen to two of the songs "Fly, Fly Away" and "Goodbye." Nice!)   

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