Photo Courtesy of Siggi Ragnar
Set your phones to “Airplane Mode” and travel back to the 1960s, a time of flashy pilots and stylish doctors.
“Catch Me If You Can” follows the true tale of Frank W. Abagnale Jr., who conned his way into the high positions of a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer before the age of 21. The musical, based on the movie of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, debuted on Broadway in 2011.
April 11 marked the opening night of the musical at the Woodlawn Theatre in San Antonio.
The first song, “Live in Living Color,” begins with the theme of color television where Frank moves away from the black-and-white of his life to a vibrant adventure. Continuing this theme, Frank presents his story to the audience as if he’s part of a ‘60s television variety show.
Frank’s story, visualized in the movie, is packed into the first few songs of Act I. He runs away from home, leaving his mother and father as their marriage deteriorates. After witnessing the way flight attendants swarm pilots, Frank researches Pan Am, the top airline of the day, and manages to secure a position as co-pilot.
“Jet Set” showcased the “Go-Go Dancers,” dressed as flight attendants. Each girl sang a solo, and the song ended with a line dance applauded by the audience. Although the “Go-Go Dancers” and the male ensemble were highlights of the musical, the synchronicity of their dance moves was off during many songs.
Frank attains great wealth by using forged checks but gains the attention of FBI Bank Fraud Agent Carl Hanratty. The musical deters a bit from the movie in making Hanratty’s character, played by David Blazer, comical and foolish in his obsession to catch Frank.
In Act II, Frank falls in love with a nurse, Brenda Strong, after pretending to be a doctor. He proposes to Brenda and vows to settle down and stop lying. However, with Hanratty on his tail, Frank is forced to ask Brenda to run away with him.
After Frank makes his getaway, Brenda (Reagan Wilson) sings “Fly, Fly Away,” displaying her vocal talents.
The second-to-last song, “Goodbye,” represented both the end of the musical and the end of Frank’s dishonesty. Afterward, Frank’s happy ending after serving a shortened sentence in prison and becoming an authority on forgery and embezzlement is sung in “Stuck Together (Strange But True).”
Costume designs included flashy outfits for the pilots, flight attendants and nurses, and true detective clothes for the FBI agents. The “Go-Go Dancer” costumes captured the mod-style of the ‘60s.
The set design was simple and converted easily from an airport to a hospital. The band, directed by Jane Haas, took the stage dressed in white tuxedos that captured the jazzy eloquence of the period.
Brian Hodges, in the lead role of Frank Abagnale Jr., personified the slick charm of the character. Hodges brought the songs to life with his great vocals and attained a strong presence onstage.
Other standout performances included Rebecca Trinidad who shined as Paula Abagnale, Melissa Barrera Gonzalez as the garrulous Carol Strong and Alyssa Lopez as a Go-Go Dancer.
“Catch Me If You Can” worked well as a musical with numerous catchy songs throughout the acts. Although the first couple of songs and the last song were a bit too heavy-loaded with information, each song picked up the pace in order to get the audience interested in the story.
“Catch Me If You Can” will be at the Woodlawn Theatre until May 11. Admission ranges from $15 to $23. For more information, visit woodlawntheatre.com.