Catch Me If You Can: The Musical

Frankston Arts Centre

PLOS Musical Productions

Frankston Arts Centre
December 31, 2023 – 07 Jan
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Frank Abignale Junior was a con man par excellence. In short, he rewrote the rule book on how to impersonate and swindle. Born on 27th April 1948, by the age of 21 he had stolen two and half million US dollars. His story resulted in the Steven Spielberg-directed 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. That, in turn, informed this musical production, which features a series of compelling numbers that help propel the narrative. The book is by Terrence McNally, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittmann and Marc Shaiman. Musical direction of the 18-piece orchestra is by conductor Malcolm Huddle.

Photos by Norrington Media

Frank Abignale Junior was but a teenage when his white-collar crime-spree started. He carried himself off as an older man with a young face. His father, Frank Abignale Senior, was a GI when he met and later married his French mother, Paula. His dad was always an anti-government, big talker, but financially he was in strife. His mother cheated on his father and they separated. Forced to choose between them, Frank Abignale Junior went his own way. Among his many ruses was assuming the guise of a lawyer, pilot and doctor. He even printed his own cheques. Frank Abignale Junior led the FBI on a merry chase. He infuriated Special Agent Carl Hanratty, who was nothing if not persistent, confident that in time Frank would receive his comeuppance. The musical unfolds as a television program, with Frank being the star attraction, after Hanratty corners him at Miami International Airport.

PLOS’s is a slick and stellar offering, magnificently realised, befitting of a major CBD production. Among the many standouts are the lead performances. Jordan Poyser has an alluring presence and enchanting tone as Frank Abignale Junior. The timbre in Aidan Niarros’ voice and his dynamic showmanship ensure that he is a revelation as Carl Hanratty. Gravelly voiced Peter Noble brings to life Frank Senior, while Emily McKenzie charms her way into our hearts as Paula. Emilie Toby makes a huge splash as Frank Junior’s love interest, nurse Brenda Strong. Her sweet voiced and powerful rendition of Fly, Fly Away towards the tail end of Act II is one of the show’s umpteen highlights. I was also impressed by Guada Banez as one of the three FBI agents working with Hanratty. They are ably supported by the ensemble (in a total cast of 24), who sing and dance up a storm.

The choreography by Mark McKenzie and Michael Mitchell is instantly appealing. The staging, with scenic concept by director Danny Gisberg, is simply spectacular. Three large video screens are used to maximum effect, with a brilliant and evocative choice of graphics representatives of the era. Props are seamlessly wheeled on and off stage, while the colourful array of costuming by Brett Wingfield helps set the up-tempo tone. Lighting designer Daniel Jow and sound designer Marcello Lo Ricco ensure Catch Me If You Can: The Musical is a truly memorable spectacle. PLOS Musical Productions has given us a phenomenal, top-class rendition of an extraordinary true story. It played at Frankston Arts Centre from 31st December 2023 to 7th January 2024. Please note that a fine, detailed program was the icing on the cake

Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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