In Part 2 of ‘Catch This! McLean High School’s’ Catch Me If You Can Interviews, meet cast members Alex Stone, Jack Posey, and Lily Lord.
Tell me a little bit about your character.
Alex Stone: Frank Abagnale, Jr. is a kid. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, he steals more than two million dollars by passing bad checks and, over that time period, successfully impersonates a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. Sometimes he’s Frank Taylor, William Franklin, and tons of different names! He’s able to pull those things off by looking sharp, acting confident and pretending to know what he’s doing. When you pretend to know what you’re doing, people will think you know what you’re doing.
Jack Posey: I play Carl Hanratty, the FBI agent searching for conman Frank Abagnale, Jr. He’s a man who very much sees the world in black and white and who believes in the importance of following the rules. There’s a big song he sings called, “Don’t Break the Rules” that sums that up really nicely. Deep down though, I think he’s a very sensitive man with a very good heart.
Lily Lord: Brenda Strong is from New Orleans and from a very straight laced family. She loves them very much, but she runs away from home the day of her wedding after realizing she doesn’t love the man she’s about to marry. So, she moves away from her parents and starts in living in Georgia, working as a nurse. That’s where she meets Frank. And falls in love, of course.
What is something that surprised or excited you about Catch Me If You Can?
Alex: Even though it wasn’t terribly a hit on Broadway, it has a lot of interesting ways you can interpret the story and show the connections between the characters. Frank Jr. didn’t have a huge father figure to look up to with Frank Sr. essentially being a washed-up conman. That’s not a terribly awesome father figure to roll with. But, as the story continues, Carl Hanratty becomes essentially a father figure and a friend to Frank, which is in itself interesting.
Oh! Also something that surprised me: the huge amount of singing and dancing that is required in this role. Because it is a lot. I mean A LOT.
Jack: Catch Me If You Can is a really big, fun musical. I love Hairspray, and it’s by the same people that did that show, so that also got me excited. And then, I hadn’t actually known that the movie was being made into a musical, so it was super cool when I found that out.
Lily: Well, there weren’t a lot of surprises about this show since I’ve been following it since before it hit Broadway. A few years ago I was absolutely obsessed with it: I watched the movie, saw the show on Broadway, and listened to the soundtrack in every free moment. So when I found out the McLean Theater Company was doing it, I was really excited.
Gosh. I don’t even think I know how to say how much I love it. The music especially. So yeah, no surprises. I expected a phenomenal show and I got it.
What might surprise your audience?
Alex: The tiny nuances in the acting as every single person changes throughout the show. It’s over a five year time span. That’s a change, as a person, becoming more mature, becoming more of a man and less of a kid, but he still holds some mannerisms and traits constantly throughout his life. Many of these mannerisms and traits also are similar to Frank Sr. because they are related, father and son. So, you should look out for those things during the show.
Jack: There’s going to be amazing technical elements and some really awesome dance from our choreographer Marielle Burt. I think…well, I hope the audience will be taken aback by the high standards that we hold ourselves to.
Lily: The caliber of all of the dancing and singing we’re doing.
Why did you want to play your character, and how do you relate to him/her?
Alex: I personally relate to Frank because he’s, relatively speaking, my age, and a lot of the connections I find are near the beginning of the show when he’s young. Something that happens all through the show is him wanting to get his family happily together again. I love my family, they mean the world to me, and being connected to them is something that’s really important to me. But also, just not really caring about a lot of stuff and going where the wind takes you and just loving it. I like to do that, just go with it, be free, and have no cares. He’s also just a pretty cool dude, and I’ve never truly played the cool dude before.
Jack: I love the character Carl. He has a lot of layers, a lot of things in his past-and his present- that affect what he does and what he wants. I find it really fun to just peel away at his layers and understand him. I relate to him because, when I was a little kid, I was always the “hall monitor” without being told to be one, basically. So, I really do relate to him in the law-abiding sense too.
Lily: I do relate to Brenda very much. She’s very sweet and awkward, not unlike myself, but also very honest and very tough underneath that. Plus, I really love all the songs she sings. And the role doesn’t involve a lot of dancing, which is pretty nice, too (laughs).
What has been most challenging for you in shaping your character and performance?
Alex: I needed to find the differences and nuances between him at age sixteen versus age twenty-one. Where’s the fine line between boy and man? How can that be accentuated and how can the audience perceive that correctly?
Also, singing and dancing at the same time. It’s a very vocally demanding part, but with correct technique, that’s fine. But dancing while you’re doing it…Like the first song, “Live in Living Color,” the very last section is a workout. It will be a challenge to make sure I can successfully pull off the vocals along with the aerobic movement and still create a story for the audience.
Jack: What’s been most challenging for me…I mean, it’s always harder to play someone of a different age and physicality than myself, and I have to really work on that and just my overall presence to make sure I don’t come off as too young.
Also, we do really high octane dances that are coupled with very demanding songs. So, I really have to practice to make sure everything all lines up perfectly to allow myself to put all my energy into the song and not worry about running out of breath or missing a step.
Lily: (straight-faced) It’s really challenging to pretend to be in love Alex Stone (pauses, then laughs). No, no, I’m joking, of course. Alex is great; I love working with him. We actually are headed to the International Thespians Conference this summer as Cathy and Jamie in The Last 5 Years.
But anyway, I think that Brenda’s still kind of delicate from being disowned by her parents after not going through with an earlier marriage and running away, but at the same time she tries really hard to put up this a strong front. It’s kind of hard to balance the two.
What are your solos in the show and what does the audience learn about your character while you are singing them?
Alex: I start the show with “Live in Living Color”. I also have a song about leaving home when my parents get divorced called “Someone Else’s Skin” as Frank decides to begin impersonating all these different people.
I also sing a song called “Seven Wonders” with my love interest Brenda Strong, played by Lily Lord who has a great voice – amazing talent. That’s their love song. Then, I sing a solo right before the Finale, “Goodbye,” where Frank just wants to let go of this crazy, extravagant life because he’s tired of it. By the end of the show, he’s a wanted man on every continent, and he just wants to escape from it, be free and done. But that’s not how the system works. He has to pay his dues. But he’s still just a child inside.
Jack: Hanratty has a big show-stopper number in the first act, “Don’t Break the Rules,” which is very much a big, bold…almost caricature of his personal motivations and his personal beliefs. He says this: “Don’t break the rules/or else we’re living in the wild, wild west/ and God’s keeping score/ you don’t wanna fail that test.”
But then, there are actually some songs in which he interacts with Frank and his parents where you really get to see the intelligence side of Hanratty and the side of him that cares about other people a little bit more. Also, you get to see a little more of his backstory in a song called “Man Inside the Clues.” There are really moments of introspection of those that greatly contrast with the big, showy “Don’t Break the Rules”.
Lily: I sing this song called “Fly Fly Away” and it’s kind of…sad at the beginning, I suppose, but it grows into a real power ballad by the end. I think it shows her deep and true love for Frank, despite his past, and it shows her depth as a character for being able to look past of it. It’s an extremely challenging song, but nailing it feels awesome.
What is the best advice Director Amy Poe or and Music Director Bobby McCoy have given you on playing and singing your role?
Alex: Ms. Poe asks me the meaning of each song as a first question and, from there, from that answer, she just asks me why. You have to find the reasoning behind whatever the first answer is, whatever the character is doing. Even if the story gives you the character’s backstory, it still gives you the opportunity to think about your character and what they do and analyze why they do these things. That’s something I will definitely remember as I continue in the theatre.
Bobby McCoy…he’s so chill. He just lets you go. He teaches you exactly what to do and exactly when to do it, but after you get the hang of it, he lets you go with it. You can match up with him, he’ll match up with you, and you’re just partners. You’re just rolling and chilling. He makes all the crazy, belty, high notes so easy. I know that’s not terribly descriptive, but he just takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.
Jack: Oh, gosh, Ms. Poe and Bobby are amazing.
Ms. Poe, she knows how to get her actors to work, to rearrange what they’re doing to just let their creativity flow. She just makes very light suggestions to help guide us in the right direction; she doesn’t micromanage us, but she surely does what a director is supposed to and directs us…you know, in the right direction! But, at the same time, she gives us the freedom to try different things and explore and play, which is the essence of good theatre.
Bobby knows how to work with his musicians very well to get them to nail their parts. He doesn’t leave anything up to chance…nothing “fly, flies away,” he always wants to get down every last note, every last rhythm.
Lily: Ms. Poe has worked a lot with me this year on using facial expressions that convey emotions and messages to the audience. She, Bobby, and our choreographer Marielle Burt have really helped me feel more confident on stage during the process of this show. I’ve learned a lot from them, and we all feel so extremely lucky to have such an amazing creative team.
What makes this production of Catch Me If You Can special?
Alex: Aside from the fact that it’s the metro DC area premiere, the show, from the get-go, just grabs you. The acting that Ms. Poe has taught me and Jack and everyone else will just immediately pull you in from the beginning. Not to mention the dancing, of course. Also, it’s a large piece of work that we’re doing with significant tech running from staging to projections and effects.
The story itself is also really interesting because Jack and I along with Matt [Lucero, playing Frank Sr.] and Lily have analyzed this show and figured out our characters. We want to show the subtlest nuances in our relationships and the events that make everything easier to perceive by the audience.
Jack: This production is special because I feel like everyone is just putting 110% of themselves into this show. It’s going to be a big, big spectacle while also showcasing the great qualities of our company: all of our different creativities and talents.
Lily: Because the cast is working really hard! People stay after late every day for rehearsals; it’s definitely been a lot more strenuous than any other production we’ve done here at McLean. And, even more importantly, we all just love this show and we’re having a blast with it- and it shows during our performances. We’ve fallen in love with the characters and the music and the story and the dancing. We just have a great time, and I think it’ll be a great time for everyone in the audience too.
Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 1: Director Amy Poe.