Theater: Catch

I have seen my share of Broadway shows and I’ve seen all of The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Broadway-bound, made-from-a-movie incubator musicals, some fantastic (Hairspray!) and some not so much (The Wedding Singer).

Last night I saw Catch Me if you Can, the 5th Ave’s latest such show about the true-life young con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr., and I will go out on a limb here and think come Tony Awards time, we are going to see a lot of people from this show picking up statuettes. Here’s why:

• Catch Me is from the same hit-making team who created Hairspray (Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Jack O’Brien, Jerry Mitchell, David Rockwell, Ken Posner, Terrence McNally and of course, our very own David Armstrong). If you saw that show, ’nough said. If not, expect lots of color, energy, great dance numbers and big, big characters.

• Costumes: Bob Mackie does stewardess chic in this production--lots of bedazzled bikinis under slinky wrap dresses. Stewardess uniforms pop with color. Fabulously drab grey FBI agent suits. The 60s/70s were made for theatrical costume designers. Loved the flip wigs, too.

• The sets are cutting edge. Most of the scenery was projected on a scrim on the back wall of the theater and I am guessing, created electronically. 3-D props like beds and desks were rolled out as needed. The orchestra was on stage—the audience gets a profile view of them on a graduated platform (picture a high heeled shoe, and the drummer was tucked in the arch of the shoe) the entire show.

• Wow, wow, wow, what an incredible, consistently talented cast. I don't remember much of the movie, save for that Leonardo Dicaprio was in it and his character masqueraded as a pilot and a doctor whilst scamming people out of millions of dollars, so I wasn’t constantly doing mental comparisons to the movie all night. Aaron Tveit is brilliant in the he-can-sing/dance/charm-old-school-Broadway-star way as Frank Abagnale, Jr. (the Leo role). You will not want to be taking a bathroom break come time for his number, “Goodbye”. Norbert Leo Butz plays Carl Hanratty, the FBI agent (a co-worker reminded me today that he was played by Tom Hanks in the movie) who is obsessed with catching Frank Jr., and totally engaging and sympathetic in a menschy schleppy sort of way. Kerry Butler plays Frank’s fiancé, Brenda, and she sort of comes out of nowhere to bring down the house with her big number, “Fly, Fly Away”. Oh yes, and Tom Wopat of the Dukes of Hazzard fame plays Frank’s dad. He’s got a great singing voice but, well, here’s the deal: I am from Wisconsin and couldn’t get the fact that he looks like former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson doing a Frank Sinatra impression. Just couldn’t shake that image. But he’s fine. Really.

• The show is, surprisingly, about family values and the importance of being supported, guided and even disciplined by your parents--but this is definitely not a family friendly show. The Mad Men influence is evident and there is plenty of swearing, sexual innuendo and characters making plenty of “bad choices,” as we say in our household, all around. I would bring my kids (7 and 4) to H