New in 2011 From the creative team behind the long-running Broadway hit "Hairspray," a new musical based on the 2002 film starring Aaron Tveit as a world-class con man and Norbert Leo Butz (who won a Tony for his performance) as the FBI agent who tracks him down. Closes September 4th.
The Broadway production of Catch Me If You Can closed September 4, 2011. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
According to the producers, the musical "captures the astonishing true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a world-class con artist who passed himself off as a doctor, a lawyer, and a jet pilot — all before the age of 21. With straight-arrow FBI agent Carl Hanratty on Frank's trail, we're off on a jet-setting, cat-and-mouse chase, as a jazzy, swinging-sixties score keeps this adventure in constant motion. In the end, Agent Hanratty learns he and Frank aren't so very different after all, and Frank finds out what happens when love catches up to a man on the run."
An earlier iteration of this musical opened in Seattle in 2009 to supportive but mixed reviews. The four lead actors from Seattle (Tony-winner Norbert Leo Butz, Aaron Tveit and Tony-nominees Tom Wopat and Kerry Butler) will reprise their roles on Broadway, and the creative team remains intact.
Here's a video from the show's open rehearsal for the press:
The show has wonderful moments, but issues abound. McNally's overstuffed story jockeys unsteadily between hijinks and serious drama. Shaiman and Wittman's score shows polish and style. Jerry Mitchell's polished choreography showcases willowy chorus girls and wiry guys. The concept of having the orchestra onstage works well enough, and O'Brien makes clever use of David Rockwell's sleek set. The show's biggest plus is a cast so great you see beyond the shortfalls. "Catch Me If You Can" aims for the clouds but only occasionally gets there.
The musical has all the ingredients for a hit...And yet there's something here that just isn't connecting, that smacks a bit of a color-by-numbers musical. Pretty and blessed with a wonderful voice, Tveit [as Abagnale] nevertheless struggles to convey genuineness. Tveit's supporting cast is top-notch, especially Norbert Leo Butz. It's hard to exactly nail down why, at the end, it doesn't leave an emotional mark. It's not the creative team, who try to deliver a sweet and moving show. It's not the dancing or the sets or the singing. It might be that the character based on [Abagnale] happens to be written in a way that leaves no impression.
"Catch Me If You Can," a shiny and well-acted, but ineffectual, musical that, for most of the evening, goes every which way but forward...great, groaning effort is made to tell the story in a "theatrical" way. There's also a lopsided emphasis on [Abagnale's] interpersonal relationships, which are not that interesting. The musical [is] directed by O'Brien without his usual panache. The songs aren't up to the heavy lifting. The show has that unmistakable quality of being pieced together rather than conceived as an organic whole. Leaving the theater, you feel "Catch Me" actually had the material for a good musical; the mistake was taking it in the wrong direction.
There's plenty to admire and even a little to love about the stolid new musical "Catch Me If You Can." Shaiman and Wittman are very adept at writing and arranging pop songs that fly by effortlessly without leaving much of an impression. They're played by a sensational onstage swing band. When the songs get serious, the score veers into the maudlin. Terrence McNally's book follows a straight-and-narrow narrative route, leaving not much to the imagination.
The artists behind the diverting but undercooked musical version of "Catch Me if You Can" don't quite pull off the big score. Part of the problem is McNally's book, which is oddly paced and curiously structured. The entire cast seems to be working very hard to put over the material. Under the direction of Jack O'Brien, though, [the show] moves mostly in fits and starts. The creators of have rigged the game against them. What should have been a fun lark of a story seems almost stodgy, like your grandmother's idea of a good time.
New York Magazine
"Catch Me", a natty little boutonniere of ear-tickling pastiche and ersatz Rat Pack swagger, won't win any awards for originality: It's the story of a Great American Fake, told in the fakest performance mode conceivable, scored by the most gifted Silly Puttyist working in the theater today. (I mean that as a compliment.) But these encrusted layers of artifice don't trouble "Catch Me's" swinging soul in the slightest. [Abagnale's] musical disclosure is backed by a creamy onstage orchestra poppin' enough to knock Sinatra's ghost off his barstool a few doors down at the Russian Samovar. Nobody's going for a long con here. They're all just looking to get you through the night, and this they achieve with flying colors and a few bonus miles left over.
New York Post
The orchestra sits onstage, which limits the options of director O'Brien and choreographer Mitchell. The latter's style feels particularly cramped. It's hard to build momentum anyway, because every time Shaiman's playful pop score threatens to take off, a character starts blathering on. McNally clumsily strings together disparate scenes just to set up songs. Tveit is handsome and sings well, but overuses his Colgate smile and lacks the pizazz necessary to sell the snake oil. Butz, on the other hand, has charisma to spare - he creates a fully rounded character, and displays unfailing musical-comedy flair.
New York Times
Though the real-life story that inspired this show is full of elaborate deceptions and corkscrew twists, you will never at any point be confused by its theatrical incarnation. Or roused or touched or more than mildly entertained, for about 90 percent of the time. A tale that follows a continent-spanning pursuit of a chameleon criminal should have, above all things, momentum. And "Catch Me" mostly just seems to stand in one place, explaining itself. The flashy musical numbers definitely emerge from the plot, just as they are supposed to do in your basic organic musical, but they sometimes have the chalky flavor of audio-visual aids.
Catch Me is too ambitious and stylish in its efforts to entertain and move us to induce boredom. The main problem with this production is that only one of the two leading men is consistently compelling. Norbert Leo Butz is predictably marvelous as Hanratty - Butz walks away with the show. Butz also handles the musical numbers with an ease that often trumps Tveit's more aggressive virtuosity. Still, in failing to deliver a youthful protagonist you can really cheer for, this "Catch Me If You Can" may leave you feeling a bit cheated.
In "Catch Me If You Can," teenaged conman Frank Abagnale Jr. recounts his daring escapades in the format of a 1960s TV spectacular; each step in crime is shown as a perky-but-flat variety-show production number. That's the conceit of the new tuner, and the problem as well. Impressive star performances from Norbert Leo Butz and Aaron Tveit, a lively production, the best sounding new music currently on Broadway - all built around a succession of glossily frenetic, non-compelling production numbers.
Wall Street Journal
A glossy stage version of Spielberg's movie that is musically unmemorable and emotionally dead...the songs are period pastiches so anonymous as to actively resist recollection. On the credit side is an unusually fine piece of acting by Norbert Leo Butz. Tom Wopat shows off his ever-reliable pipes, and Mr. Tveit is thoroughly likable as Frank. The most that can be said about O'Brien's staging, alas, is that it's efficient, while Mitchell's choreography is as facelessly derivative as the songs. Best of all is Kerry Butler. Ms. Butler has somehow contrived to give a performance glowing with truth in a show that's devoid of it.