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Theater review: 'Catch Me If You Can,' 2 stars

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can
2 stars

"Catch Me If You Can," the eagerly anticipated Broadway musical based on the breezy 2002 Leonardo DiCaprio film, is a product of essentially the same creative team behind the mega-hit "Hairspray." It's even playing in the same theater as "Hairspray" and shares an early 1960s setting.

But in spite of so much promise, "Catch Me If You Can" is so disappointing that it will leave you wishing you could travel back in time and watch "Hairspray" again.

As in the film, teenager Frank Abagnale Jr. (Aaron Tveit) escapes from suburbia, financing himself by writing bad checks. Meanwhile, determined FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Norbert Leo Butz) chases Abagnale around the country.

Frank manages to pass himself off as a pilot, doctor and lawyer. But his jet-setting lifestyle hits a speed bump when he becomes engaged to a nurse and tries to settle down.

The writers make the corny choice of framing the show as a confessional flashback. It begins with the FBI capturing Frank, who then proceeds to narrate his story to the audience, treating it as if it were a television variety show. This results in choppy storytelling that trades the film's fun for never-ending exposition.

The score has a swinging '60s flavor but is irritating and devoid of melody. On a similar note, Jerry Mitchell's go-go choreography is energetic but generic.

The modelesque Tveit, who carries the entire show on his shoulders, should be praised for his sheer physical stamina and chameleon-like ability to pull off Frank's disguises. However, his performance is inferior to the dark and thrilling one he gave in "Next to Normal."

Butz and Butler, both major Broadway talents, suffer from their poor material. Only Tom Wopat manages to make a strong impression as Frank's father, who slowly disintegrates into a drunken and broken man. The chorus of leggy showgirls also makes for nice eye candy.


On stage: "Catch Me If You Can" plays an open run at the Neil Simon Theatre. 250 W. 52nd St., 877-250-2929, catchmethemusical.com./p>

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