by CHRISTINE SARKES SASSEVILLE
The Orpheum Theatre’s glitzy, new musical offering, Catch Me If You Can, tells the true-life con man “coming of age story” of Frank Abagnale, Jr., who posed as a doctor, lawyer and Pan Am pilot all before age 21. The Tony-nominated musical, set in the 1960s with a rat pack meets Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In vibe, features the Tony Award-winning creative team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray), with choreography by Jerry Mitchell and direction by Jack O’Brien. The show stars a charming, baby-faced Stephen Anthony as Frank Jr. and an engaging Merritt David Janes, as his FBI pursuer, confidante and erstwhile father figure. The musical is based on Frank Abagnale’s autobiography and the 2002 film by Steven Spielberg, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio in the featured role.
The story begins with the teenage Frank Jr. dealing with break-up of his New York suburban family. His father, a larger-than-life ne’er-do-well, who in the signature song of the musical, tries unsuccessfully to make “Butter Outta Cream” and his French war-bride mother are unable to overcome a string of business failures and dashed dreams. Frank runs away and learns to forge and pass bad checks, while living the jet-set life his father dreamed he would live. The story is told with help from a bevy of chorus line beauties, a fabulous on-stage orchestra under the musical direction of Matthew Smedal, and splashy, often distracting, video displays. Stand out numbers include Merritt David Janes’ “Don’t Break the Rules,” Anthony’s final “Good-Bye” and Aubrey Mae Davis as Brenda, the abandoned fiance, singing “Fly, Fly Away.” The musical offers light entertainment, an engaging cast of actors, singers and dancers and an interesting back story.
In real life, after Frank Abagnale was captured and imprisoned for his crimes, he ultimately began working, consulting and teaching with the FBI. Frank Abagnale, Jr. was on hand at the Orpheum Theatre after the opening night performance to answer questions from the audience about his FBI career and life as a con artist.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is based on a book by Terrence McNally, music by Marc Shaiman with Scott Wittman, directed by Jack O’Brien at the Orpheum Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Thu., 7 p.m. Fri., 2 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun, 910 Hennepin Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Tickets $34-$79 at 1-800-982-2787 or online at http://www.hennepintheatretrust.org