Catch Me If You Can (musical)

Catch Me If You Can is a musical drama with a libretto by Terrence McNally and a theatrical score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. It follows the story of a con artist named Frank Abagnale.[1] A majority of the plot is borrowed from the 2002 film of the same name, which in turn was based on the 1980 autobiography of the same name by Abagnale and Stan Redding.

Catch Me If You Can
Official logo
MusicMarc Shaiman
LyricsMarc Shaiman
Scott Wittman
BookTerrence McNally
BasisCatch Me If You Can
by Jeff Nathanson
Catch Me If You Can
by Frank Abagnale Jr.
Stan Redding
PremiereApril 10, 2011 (2011-04-10): Neil Simon Theatre
Productions2009 Seattle tryout
2011 Broadway
2012 Non-Equity tour

After a tryout musical performance in Seattle in 2009, Catch Me If You Can opened at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre in April 2011. The production received four Tony Awards nominations, including one for Best Musical, winning Best Actor in a Musical for Norbert Leo Butz.[2]

Productions Edit

Readings and workshops (2005–2008) Edit

The musical had a reading in 2005, directed by Jack O'Brien, with Nathan Lane, Tom Wopat, Brandon Wardell and Matthew Morrison.[3] In private workshops held in July 2007, O'Brien was director, with Nathan Lane, Christian Borle, Angie Schworer, Tom Wopat and Brandon Wardell.[4][5] Other actors involved in the readings included Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz,[6] Celia Keenan-Bolger, Sara Gettelfinger, Katharine McPhee, Felicia Finley, Autumn Hurlbert,[7] Lauren Ashley Zakrin and Annaleigh Ashford.[8]

Seattle tryout (2009) Edit

Catch Me If You Can at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington.

The musical was originally scheduled to premiere on July 25, 2009, at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, with Jack O'Brien as director and choreography by Jerry Mitchell.[9] The 5th Avenue Theatre previously held the world premiere of the creative team's hit musical Hairspray.[10] The first few days of previews of the show were cancelled due to a tragedy in Norbert Leo Butz's family (Butz played Carl Hanratty).[11] The musical premiered on July 28, 2009, and ended August 16, 2009.[12]

In addition to Butz, the cast included Aaron Tveit as Frank, Tom Wopat as Frank Sr., Kerry Butler as Brenda, Linda Hart as Carol, and Nick Wyman as Roger.[13]

The production received mostly positive reviews from critics.[14]

Broadway (2011) Edit

On March 11, 2011, the musical began preview performances on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, with an official opening date on April 10, 2011. The show featured most of the Seattle cast, with Butz, Tveit, Wopat, and Butler appearing in leading roles. Other Seattle cast members included: Linda Hart, Nick Wyman, Rachel deBenedet, Brandon Wardell, Timothy McCuen Piggee, and Angie Schworer.[15][16] The production had scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, and musical direction by John McDaniel; O'Brien and Mitchell were the director and choreographer, respectively.[17]

The production closed September 4, 2011, after 32 previews and 170 regular performances.[18]

US tour (2012–13) Edit

Catch Me If You Can on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre.

A United States national tour, presented by Troika Entertainment, began performances October 7, 2012, in Providence, Rhode Island. The tour was contracted through July 28, 2013.[19] The production features Stephen Anthony as Frank Abagnale Jr. and Merritt David Janes as Agent Carl Hanratty.[20]

Synopsis Edit

Act I Edit

In the 1960s, Frank Abagnale Jr., a young con man, is cornered at the Miami International Airport by FBI Agent Carl Hanratty and his team. Hanratty asserts that there's no use in running, as his men are trained to shoot. Before his arrest, Frank pleads with Hanratty to allow him to inform the people in the airport why they're beating at him, though Hanratty only wants to know how he passed the bar exam in New Orleans to pose as a lawyer. Frank promises to tell him all his secrets if they allow him to tell his story ("Live in Living Color"). A reluctant Hanratty agrees.

In a home in New Rochelle, New York, Frank lives with his parents Frank Abagnale Sr. and Paula Abagnale. His parents met in Montrichard, France, during World War II. Paula was performing at a diner and noticed Frank Sr. among the soldiers in the audience ("The Pinstripes Are All That They See"), marrying him soon after. Due to money shortages, Frank is unable to attend private school, nonetheless wearing his school jacket to public school. He is taunted there as looking like a substitute teacher, which gives Frank an idea; a few days later, the principal informs his parents that Frank has been teaching French class at the school while their teacher is absent.

One day, Frank walks home from school to find his mother dancing with one of Frank Sr.'s friends. She pleads with him not to tell Frank Sr., but a distraught Frank is soon in court, with Paula and Frank Sr. fighting over custody of him. Frank decides to run away ("Someone Else's Skin"). He soon learns to create fake checks, cashing them at banks across the country and successfully conning millions of dollars.

While entering a New York City hotel, Frank notices several attractive women, all of them stewardesses; he decides to become a pilot. After creating a fake ID card, he finds a co-pilot job at Pan American World Airways. The workers express the joys of a life in the skies ("Jet Set"). Hanratty finds several fake checks on his desk in Washington, D. C. He and Agents Branton, Dollar, and Cod are assigned to track down the writer of these fake checks ("Live in Living Color [Reprise]"). Hanratty gives a word of wisdom to whoever wrote the checks: "Don't Break the Rules."

Frank enjoys his pilot job, remembering how his dad always said that "women love a man in uniform," as "The Pinstripes Are All That They See." Feeling homesick, he visits Frank Sr., upset to find out that he had to close his store to save money. Frank offers him several checks to improve his financial situation, but Frank Sr. declines, believing that Frank should be happy with his success and not worry about him ("Butter Outta Cream"). Meanwhile, Hanratty sorts through leftover items from the hotel Frank had just stayed at, looking for "The Man Inside the Clues." Hanratty tracks Frank to a hotel room in Los Angeles, but Frank escapes after tricking Hanratty into believing that Frank is a Secret Service agent named Barry Allen.

Frank attends a holiday party for the airport staff ("Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year") but ultimately feels lonely, calling Hanratty on a pay phone for comfort. Hanratty, realizing the culprit is just a kid, reveals that he, too, has no one to spend Christmas with ("My Favorite Time of Year").

Act II Edit

Frank comes across another staff party, this time for a hospital. When asked what his job is by one of the doctors, Frank lies that he is a pediatrician at the Death Valley Children's Hospital, working with "snot-nosed kids" and calling himself "Dr. Connors." Feeling sorry for him, the doctor finds him a job at the Atlanta General Hospital, surrounded by nurses who are ready to take the ("Doctor's Orders").

Hanratty is still searching for Frank, going through missing person reports ("Live in Living Color (reprise)"). He eventually finds the house of Paula and her new husband, questioning her on the whereabouts of Frank. She tells him not to worry, as does Frank Sr. Both plead with Frank: ("Don't Be a Stranger"). While talking to Frank Sr. at a bar, Hanratty realizes that both men had overbearing fathers ("Little Boy Be a Man").

Meanwhile, Frank has fallen in love with one of the nurses, Brenda Strong, though she finds him intimidating. He tells her he has seen the "Seven Wonders," but none of them compare to her beauty. Brenda brings Frank to meet her family in New Orleans, where he lies that he's a lawyer, a doctor, and a Lutheran to impress her father. Her father does not believe him but permits him to be with Brenda after Frank admits how much he loves her. Brenda's parents, Carol and Roger Strong, tell Frank that they have a "family sing-along" each night after dinner; they turn on the television to the song "((Our) Family Tree"), after which Frank proposes to Brenda, and she accepts.

Shortly before the engagement ceremony, Frank discovers Hanratty has figured out where he is. He admits the truth to Brenda, telling her his real name: Frank William Abagnale Jr. He promises to return after escaping from Hanratty. Just as he leaves, Hanratty enters, asking Brenda where Frank went. She laments that she loves Frank and would never tell on him ("Fly, Fly Away") but is tricked into doing so shortly thereafter.

The story returns to the opening scene, where Frank is cornered in the airport. The agents escort passengers out of the area as Frank threatens to run. Hanratty states that he doesn't want to use force but would have to if Frank ran. Hanratty informs Frank that his father is dead; a drunken Frank Sr. had fallen downstairs at the bar, breaking his neck. Realizing he has nobody, Frank gives in to Hanratty ("Goodbye").

Although sentenced to fifteen years in prison, Frank is released after seven. Shortly after his release, he is hired by Hanratty and the FBI to track down others who committed crimes like his. Hanratty and Frank embrace, noting that their partnership is "Strange But True." Hanratty then makes Frank keep his promise, telling him how he passed the New Orleans bar exam. Frank tells a surprised Hanratty that he didn't cheat: "I studied."

Musical numbers Edit

†Not on Broadway cast album.
††Titled "Stuck Together (Strange But True)" on cast album.
†††Titled "Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year" on cast album.
††††Released in full on the 2011 Broadway Cares benefit album "Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols For a Cure 13".

  • "Fifty Checks"- Frank Sr. is a cut song featured on the Original Broadway Cast Album

Original casts Edit

Character Seattle
US Tour
Frank Abagnale Jr. Aaron Tveit Stephen Anthony Yuzuru Kurenai Thomas Bradford Karol Drozd / Marcin Franc / Maciej Marcin Tomaszewski
Carl Hanratty Norbert Leo Butz Merritt David Janes Hiroki Nanami Stuart Dodge Krzysztof Cybiński / Jarosław Oberbek
Frank Abagnale Sr. Tom Wopat Dominic Fortuna You Natsumi Richard Perdriau Paweł Erdman / Janusz Kruciński
Paula Abagnale Rachel de Benedet Caitlin Maloney Anru Yumeki Bianca Giorgetti Anna Gigiel / Emilia Klimczak
Brenda Strong Kerry Butler Aubrey Mae Davis Airi Kisaki Rachel Rai Anna Federowicz / Joanna Gorzała
Carol Strong Linda Hart Amy Burgmaier Yui Marino Serenity Harbour Agnieszka Gabrysiak / Aleksandra Janiszewska
Roger Strong Nick Wyman D. Scott Withers Rin Yuuma Stephen McMahon Piotr Płuska / Andrzej Orechwo
FBI Agent Johnny Dollar Brandon Wardell Ben Laxton Yuria Seo James Robertson Michał Domagała / Natan Nogaj

Reception Edit

The Broadway production received mixed reviews.[22] The most positive review came from Michael Giltz of the Huffington Post: "Catch Me If You Can is a sheer delight from the poignant and brilliant book by Terrence McNally to the sexy but character-driven choreography by Jerry Mitchell to the perfect sets by David Rockwell to the spot-on costumes by William Ivey Long to Kenneth Posner's marvelous lighting. It's all tied together by the superlative direction of Jack O'Brien which is seamless in weaving together drama, comedy, dance, acting, genuine scenes of pathos and casual banter with the audience and orchestra."[23]

Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote, "With 'Hairspray' Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Wittman lucratively mined another vein of the 1960s – Motown-style pop – so taking on 'Catch Me' seemed a natural. But this time they're doing pastiches of music from television variety shows – of both the Mitch Miller and Dean Martin kinds – a form that is dangerously close to lounge and elevator music. 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."[24]

Thorm Geier of Entertainment Weekly gave the show a "B−" and said, "Part of the problem with Catch Me If You Can is Terrence McNally's book, which is oddly paced and curiously structured. When Abagnale is arrested by the feds in the opening scene, he takes the opportunity to tell his own story from the beginning in the style of a '60s TV show. Why a TV show and not a Broadway play? I have no idea. Perhaps composer Marc Shaiman is just accustomed to the idiom since '60s TV factored so largely in his Tony-winning hit Hairspray. Shaiman has also conceived the music as a pastiche of early '60s musical styles, all of them curiously pre-rock. Unfortunately, this makes the score seem even more old-fashioned than some of the musicals genuinely from that era (like the current hit revival How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying). Under the direction of Jack O'Brien, though, Catch Me If You Can moves mostly in fits and starts. But the creators of Catch Me If You Can 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."[25]

In Steven Suskin's review of the show in Variety, he wrote, "Tuner has fine credentials, with the lead producer, songwriters, director, choreographer, designers and two featured actresses from the 2002 megahit "Hairspray" returning to the Neil Simon. "Catch" shares the time period with the former hit as well, but the high quotient of irrepressibly sly fun is missing. Noticeably absent is the typical creative inventiveness of director Jack O'Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. The score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman is more ambitious than their work on "Hairspray," but they are hamstrung by all those production numbers for sexy stewardesses and sexy nurses. Newcomer to the writing team is librettist Terrence McNally, with reportedly extensive ghostwriting by Brian Yorkey ("Next to Normal"). The problem, though, doesn't seem to be the book but the source material. If there is a musical to be made from this tale of a bumbling FBI agent chasing a naively innocent charmer, the creators haven't found it."[26]

Elysa Gardner of USA Today said, "Boasting a score by the famously witty team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and a book by Terrence McNally, Catch Me is too ambitious and stylish in its efforts to entertain and move us to induce boredom. The musical is structured so that we see our mischievous finagler crafting his own story, introducing some numbers and then literally trying to sing and dance his way out of trouble. It's a canny conceit, but one that only emphasizes the character's disingenuousness. There are other elegant and frisky flourishes, from William Ivey Long's eye-candy costumes to Jerry Mitchell's vampish choreography – both of which draw attention to the leggy, voluptuous figures in the female ensemble. 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."[27]

Awards and nominations Edit

Original Broadway production Edit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref
2011 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated [2]
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Norbert Leo Butz Won
Best Sound Design Steve Canyon Kennedy Nominated
Best Orchestrations Marc Shaiman and Larry Blank Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Norbert Leo Butz Won [29]
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Tom Wopat Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Kerry Butler Nominated
Outstanding Music Marc Shaiman Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Marc Shaiman and Larry Blank Nominated

Recordings Edit

An original Broadway cast recording was released digitally on May 23, 2011, by Ghostlight Records, prior to a June 28 release in stores. The recording features a bonus track sung by Tom Wopat, "Fifty Checks", which was cut from the musical after the Seattle tryout.[30]

International productions Edit

South Korea Edit

Starring Um Ki-joon, Kim Jeong-hoon, Park Gwang-hyun, Kyuhyun of Super Junior and Key of Shinee rotating as Frank Abagnale Jr., the musical ran from March 28 to June 10, 2012, at the Blue Square, Samsung Card Hall, in Hannam-dong, Seoul.[31]

Japan Edit

Presented by the all-female Takarazuka Revue, the production was performed by Star Troupe, starring Yuzuru Kurenai as Frank Abagnale Jr, Airi Kisaki as Brenda Strong and Hiroki Nanami as Carl Hanratty. The musical ran from June 17 to 23, 2015 at Akasaka ACT Theater in Tokyo and June 29 to July 6, 2015, at Umeda Arts Theater Theater Drama City in Osaka.[32]

Australia (2016) Edit

The Australian premiere production as presented by Williamstown Musical Theatre Company opened in Melbourne on May 6 and ran for a limited season from May 6–21 at Williamstown Mechanics Institute.

New Zealand (2023) Edit

Catch Me If You Can will debut in Auckland, New Zealand for a limited season from February 17th to 25th, hosted by DeBase Music Centre. [1].

Poland (2023) Edit

The Polish production had its premiere on March 18 at the Musical Theater in Łódź.

Germany (2023) Edit

The musical will be performed for a limited time from June 16th to July 9th 2023 as an Open Air Musical in Magdeburg.[33]

References Edit

  1. ^ Haun, Harry. "Making Bountiful Music Together". Playbill, March 19, 2011, pgs 10-11, accessed March 20, 2011.
  2. ^ a b 2011 Tony Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Earns 14 Nominations Archived September 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Jerry Mitchell on Board to Choreograph McNally-Shaiman-Wittman Catch Me If You Can" Archived December 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine,, October 20, 2005
  4. ^ "Lane and Borle Will Play Catch Me If You Can for New Musical's Workshop" Archived April 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine,, July 10, 2007
  5. ^ "Catch Me If You Can Reading Set for 2008" Archived April 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, December 3, 2007
  6. ^ Nondorf, Tom."THE LEADING MEN: Tveit, Sutton and Caruso" Archived November 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, September 3, 2008,
  7. ^ July 24, 2008
  8. ^ Henderson, Kathy."Fresh Face: Annaleigh Ashford", June 21, 2007
  9. ^ Berson, Misha."5th Avenue season's unique "Catch": a musical based on Spielberg film", Archived March 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine The Seattle Times, March 1, 2009
  10. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Live in Living Color": 'Catch Me If You Can' Lands on Broadway March 11" Archived October 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, March 11, 2011
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Catch Me If You Can Previews Cancelled Through July 26,", July 22, 2009
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam.Broadway-Aimed "Catch Me If You Can Ends Seattle Premiere Run Aug. 16" Archived August 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, August 16, 2009
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew."Butz, Tveit, Wopat, Butler, Hart, deBenedet to Star in Catch Me If You Can Premiere" Archived March 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,, March 12, 2009
  14. ^ "Musical looking like Broadway 'Catch'"
  15. ^ Staff."Sneak Peek Meet the Cast of 'Catch Me If You Can'", January 24, 2011
  16. ^ Staff."'Catch Me If You Can'", January 31, 2011
  17. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Catch Me If You Can Books Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre" Archived September 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, September 29, 2010
  18. ^ "Catch Me If You Can Will End Broadway Run in September; Tour Will Launch in 2012". Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  19. ^ "Catch Me If You Can Will Take Off On National Tour in Fall 2012". Archived from the original on May 28, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  20. ^ BWW News Desk. "Stephen Anthony and Merritt David Janes Lead CATCH ME IF YOU CAN National Tour, Opening in RI Today, 10/7". Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  21. ^ "Catch Me If You Can" playbill, March 2011
  22. ^ "Broadway Review Roundup: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN". April 10, 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  23. ^ Giltz, Michael.Theater: "Catch Me If You Can" Dazzles Broadway, April 10, 2011
  24. ^ Brantley, Ben.Theater Review 'Catch Me if You Can' Scamming as Fast as He Can The New York Times, April 10, 2011
  25. ^ Geier, Thorm."Stage Review:'Catch Me If You Can'" Entertainment Weekly, April 11, 2011
  26. ^ Suskin, Steven."'Catch Me If You Can' Variety Review" Variety, April 11, 2011
  27. ^ Gardner, Elysa."'Catch Me' doesn't capture art of the con" USAToday, April 11, 2011
  28. ^ Jones, Kenneth "War Horse, Book of Mormon, Anything Goes, Normal Heart Win 2011 Tony Awards" Archived June 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, June 12, 2011
  29. ^ "Drama Desk Awards Go to Book of Mormon, Normal Heart, War Horse, Sutton Foster, Norbert Leo Butz". Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  30. ^ Hetrick, Adam (May 11, 2011). "Catch Me If You Can Cast Album to Arrive May 23". Archived from the original on May 30, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  31. ^ Sunwoo, Carla "Three join ‘Catch Me if You Can’"[Usurped!] Joongang Daily. February 2, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012
  32. ^ "星組公演 『キャッチ・ミー・イフ・ユー・キャン』 - 宝塚歌劇公式ホームページ" (in Japanese). Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  33. ^ "Catch Me If You Can - Theater Magdeburg". Retrieved July 3, 2022.

External links Edit