Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: Catch Me, I Got Scammed

I spent the evening before my ten out of twelve at the Neil Simon theater. I decided it was finally time to see Catch Me If You Can. For what seems like the first year in ages, I didn't catch the season's Tony nominees before the awards so I needed to do some make up work. Hence my attendance. The Tony Awards were slaughtered by the behemoth that is The Book of Mormon, but Norbert Leo Butz stole a Tony Award away from both Mormon boys, and the well deserving Tony Sheldon. The hype for his win was there, so I was expecting this brilliant show stealing performance. And boy was I in for a shock! Not only did Butz steal the David Hyde Pierce Award (a reference to David Hyde Pierce's win for Curtains over the much acclaimed Raul Esparza in Company), but his character is nowhere near a lead compared to the brilliant performance by Aaron Tveit. Not only should Tveit have been nominated, he would have given Tony Sheldon a run for his money. Tveit is the new Broadway golden boy. A triple threat to say the least. He was charming and sexy in all the right places. And his voice can hit the notes the average man should not with perfection. I wanted Tveit's Frank Abagnale Jr. to beat Butz's Carl Hanratty, but since it's based on a real story, we all know that's not the case.
As far as the production goes as a whole, it's not the best. The conceit to turn Abagnale's story into a "TV Special" for the audience seemed odd. The opening number "Live in Living Color" and Tveit's 11 o'clock stopping "Goodbye" were both crowd-pleasing hits, but they may have been better suited for a different musical. The female chorus, lead by my favorite ensemble dancer on Broadway Rachelle Rak, were long-legged goddesses who danced up a storm and used their sex appeal to distract us away from the meat of the story. The story is really about the cat and mouse chase between Abagnale and Hanratty, and keeping with the TV show theme of the show, with supporting characters who popped in along the way. With barely a handful of scenes among them, Tom Wopat, Kerry Butler, and the scene stealing Linda Hart seemed like they were just plucked off the street and asked to come on stage to make the audience clap. They are lost and forgotten in the Tveit and Butz vehicle. And I will say, the production could have saved a ton of money if the band platform remained stationary. It was a gimmick of "oh look what we can do" that was beyond unnecessary. So how did I feel after leaving the theater? The music is catchy and the dancing is top notch, but in the age of movies being turned into musicals, I've seen better.

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