KANSAS CITY, Mo —
The con is on at Starlight, thanks to the arrival of the short-lived Broadway musical, “Catch Me If You Can.”
Adapted from the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie which was, in turn, based upon the autobiography of noted con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr., “Catch Me If You Can” is a likable lark that benefits from a strong ensemble and slick production values.
Stephen Anthony leads the non-union acting company as a precocious flimflammer who made over $2 million in the 1960s by forging checks and successfully posing as a Pan Am pilot, an emergency room doctor and a parish prosecutor…all by the age of 19.
To accomodate the transition into a musical, the true story has been cleverly staged as a 1960’s-era TV variety show. When after years of pursuit the FBI finally corners Frank at an airport, our hustling hero turns to the audience and begins, “The Frank Abagnale, Jr. Show,” telling his life story via a series of musical flashbacks.
We learn about his ne’er do well dad (Dominic Fortuna) and his beautiful French mother (Caitlin Maloney), and how their split up led him to become a teenage scammer. Thanks in part to his look of youthful innocence, Frank became a prosperous criminal and the obsession of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Merritt David Janes).
Many of the same folks behind the smash hit musical “Hairspray” are reunited here, including songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, director Jerry Mitchell and choreographer Jack O’Brien. Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally (“Love! Valour! Compassion!”) provided the nimble book.
Shaiman’s score may not be memorable, but it’s certainly apropos. The songs he’s composed cover a number of genres and certainly sound like the tunes one would hear on an old 60s TV show.
Anthony is excellent as the shrewd and daring kid who was always amazed at how gullible people can be. With strong vocal chops, he’s easily able to handle the challenge or Shaiman’s rangy music.
Janes also makes an impression as the middle-aged FBI agent who ultimately comes to admire the slippery sharpie he relentlessly pursues.
David Rockwell’s clever scenic design makes extensive use of rear projection which not only makes for smooth scene transitions but also employs elements that establish a distinctly 60s feel.
While a smart show, “Catch Me If You Can” never quite establishes the pace it strives for. Plus, it’s saddled with a perfunctory ending.
But, like Abagnale’s cons, people will fall for “Catch Me If You Can”…if they really believe they will.
“Catch Me If You Can” runs through June 16th at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo. Information is available by calling 816-363.STAR (7827) or by visiting www.kcstarlight.com.
Click here to receive weekly emails full of FOX 4′s entertainment news!