All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘comedy’
If one were to rank the films of Steven Spielberg in order of likelihood to be adapted into a Broadway musical, I suppose the list would begin with E.T. and end with Schindler’s List. I think you’d find his 2002 film Catch Me If You Can closer to the bottom of that list than the top, but by golly playwright Terrance McNally (The Full Monty) and composer Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) did just that with their musical adaptation of the strange but somewhat true story of a youthful master impostor/con man. The Spreckels Theatre Company has mounted a production of it and it’s running now at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park through May 25.
Catch Me If You Can is the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a young man who doesn’t come from the best of homes, where the father is a failing businessman slipping into alcoholism and the mother is stepping out on her husband. Frank Jr. begins his young life of crime at age 16 by impersonating a teacher and committing minor credit card fraud. He finds he has a talent for impersonation and soon finds himself talking his way into careers as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, all the while cashing fraudulent checks in excess of two million dollars.
Dogged career FBI man Carl Hanratty, who occupies one of the lower rungs on the FBI ladder, latches onto the case and won’t let go. The pursuit makes up the bulk of the show, with occasional stops off at airports, hospitals, and the Deep South.
Doesn’t exactly sound like the basis for a happy, peppy, finger-snapping, toe-tapping kind of a show, does it? Well, it isn’t. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most melancholy of musicals I’ve seen of late. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s nowhere near as depressing as a certain other uber-manipulative musical that ends with students massacred on barricades and the suicide of an upstanding law enforcement agent. It’s just an attempt to get you to not expect Hello, Dolly! when taking your seat.
So the material is based on one of Spielberg’s lesser films, and the mood is often grey – just what does this show have going for it? Absolutely committed performances and terrific voices, that’s what. In his first starring role, Zack Howard takes absolute command of the stage as Frank Jr. in such a manner that belies having just two years’ acting experience, and this young man can sing. North Bay stage veteran David Yen brings a weariness to the role of Hanratty which adds to the sense of melancholy but gives some depth to the relationship between him and Abagnale. Garet Waterhouse and Betsy Glincher do good work as Frank’s flawed and ultimately unhappy parents. Light comic relief is provided courtesy Pam Koppel and Tim Setzer as the parents of the girl with whom Frank Jr. eventually falls in love. As Brenda, the girl who ultimately gets Frank to start thinking about changing his ways, Kelly Brandeburg does the most with a small role and practically stops the show with her heart wrenching delivery of the show’s most powerful number, “Fly, Fly Away”.
For every melancholy moment, there’s an offsetting, somewhat more energetic number, usually accompanied by a bevy of male and female dancers in provocative costumes (stewardesses, nurses) courtesy of Pam Enz and performed by a solid ensemble of local actors and dancers. Award-winning choreographer Michella Snider once again works her magic on the Spreckels stage.
Continuing with the trend of local houses taking the orchestra out of the pit and integrating them into the set, the six piece orchestra (under the direction of Janis Wilson) is elevated (literally) to center stage giving the whole show a sense of “lounge act”-iness. Yes, I made that word up, but it seems to be an appropriate description for much of the score. Not particularly memorable, but well-played and entertaining enough to satisfy an audience and actually bring them to their feet with a couple of really powerful ballads.
Director Gene Abravaya puts the Spreckels Paradyne Projection System to good use as the play has 35 different locations. Projections on the seven screens of various sizes enhance the minimalistic set and provide a better sense of time and place to the goings on.
With material based on a premier filmmaker’s minor work and a lesser score by a composer known more for his film and television work than theatrical musicals, Spreckels’ Catch Me If You Can is a textbook example of a group of artists coming together to rise above their material. Catch it if you can.
Catch Me If You Can
May 9 – 25
Fri/Sat @ 8pm
plusThurs 5/22 @ 7:30pm and Sat 5/17, 5/24 @ 2pm
Spreckels Performing Arts Center
5409 Snyder Lane
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Photos by Eric Chazankin