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Theatre review - Broadway edition: Catch Me If You Can 
27th-Jul-2011 09:21 am
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The Hairspray team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman go to another movie for inspiration for the follow-up, Catch Me If You Can, with a book by Terrence McNally. Loosely based on the true story of a notorious con-man, the '60s swing-flavoured tunes are recognisably from the Hairspray composers, but apart from the finale "Strange But True" which reminded me of "You're Timeless To Me," they're not too similar. Aaron Tveit plays Frank Abagnale Jr, who narrates his life story in the style of a Saturday night TV variety show, which is the theme David Rockwell has designed the set around.

I have to agree with Neil Patrick Harris (whose tweet was part of the reason I chose this show) that Tveit was robbed of a Tony nomination, and not just because he's hot. But he is hot. As the poster quotes say, "he sings and dances like a dream" - you may infer that it's of the wet variety. He's utterly charming as the fraudster and strips to his boxers twice, what more can you ask?

The Best Actor in a Musical Tony did go to the unfortunately-named Norbert Leo Butz, who shares top billing as Carl Hanratty, the anal FBI agent obsessed with tracking Frank down. He's very funny although I couldn't get over how similar his voice sounds to Tom Hanks', who originated Hanrarrty in the Spielberg film. Butz and Tveit work well together, the show music-hall structure giving them a couple more chances to interact than the story on its own would allow. They're well supported by Tom Wopat and Rachel de Benedet as Frank's parents, while Nick Wyman has a funny cameo as his prospective father-in-law. As love interest Brenda, Kerry Butler doesn't really get much to work with until quite late, but does get to belt out "Fly, Fly Away" near the end to make up for it.

Probably the best praise I can give, what with it being a musical, is that by halfway through the first act I was already looking forward to sticking some of the songs on my iPod. It's not quite as good as Hairspray but I did find it a bit more consistent, without the occasional dull patches of the earlier show. I'd probably see it again if it comes to London, especially if Tveit comes with it.

Catch Me If You Can by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman and Terrence McNally is booking until the 20th of November at the Neil Simon Theatre, New York.
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