Catch it if you can
Catch Me If You Can
If you want to see what a genuine stage star looks like, go see Catch Me If You Can at Runaway Stage. Alex Greenlee is handsome, talented and perfectly in tune with the magical reality/unreality of this well-mounted show. He has a voice that was made for musical theater.
Director Bob Baxter latches onto the fantasy of the musical, keeping a light but tight hand on the story and the large cast. Based on the movie of the same name, Catch Me If You Can has a book by Terrence McNally (Master Class, The Full Monty, Ragtime), music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray). This play, about the real-life teenage con man Frank Abagnale Jr., isn’t up to the (very) high standards of those plays, but the acting, singing and dancing—lots of dancing—elevate it a great deal.
Greenlee plays the young Abagnale with the kind of ease and confidence that makes you believe he really could get away with stealing millions of dollars masquerading as an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. Greenlee sings and dances his way through the life of a young man to whom everything comes easily, except for that one thing he most desires: the security of a family. Constantly on Abagnale’s trail, like Javert on Jean Valjean’s, is FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Darryl Strohl-De Herrera, who also choreographed). Hanratty is a stiffish, by-the-book fed, outrun by the check-kiting imposter until the end. It is interesting to watch Strohl-De Herrera, who choreographed such authentic-looking and energetic dancing for the show, make the moves he gave himself appear to not quite fit.
Since it’s set in the ’60s, when feminism was not yet in vogue, the play is peopled with women in short skirts as stewardesses, nurses, dancers and the like. It must be said they look right for the time and spirit of this romp (costumes by Hal DuBiel) and their Hullabaloo-ish moves are spot on. There’s some energetic Motown-inspired music, too (Glenn Disney conducts the orchestra) and Matt Lozada’s fine scenic design works as airport terminal, hospital hallway, hotel and Southern home equally well.