Review: ‘Catch Me If You Can’ at McLean High School

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McLean High School’s production of the Regional debut of Catch Me If You Can-a musical with a libretto by Terrence McNally and a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, of Hairspray fame, spins a wild tale of an FBI agent in pursuit of a clever criminal. It’s based on the autobiographical 2002 film (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks) about Frank Abagnale, a con-artist takes on the identity of many professions and swindles people out of millions of dollars with forged checks.

Frank Abagnale Jr. and the Jet Set (Alex Stone and friends). Photo by Karen Perry.
Frank Abagnale Jr. and the Jet Set (Alex Stone and friends). Photo by Karen Perry.

From the first musical number, “Live and In Living Color,’ with glitzy, sequined costumes, I was blown away by MTC’s production of Catch Me if You Can. Director Amy Poe and her team deliver a smash hit, all the more amazing since the rights to this show only recently became available. It started off with a bang and ended in the clouds.

The stunning two-level set designed by Marielle Burt, made of psychedelic colors and geometric patterns, transported us back into the 1960s. The creative choreography also by Marielle Burt was enhanced by the trick of dancers appearing from special hidden entrances using the set beautifully. Each part of the set was not only visually interesting but extremely functional and versatile. The black and white sofa, sliding exit doors, colorful luggage, swanky studded white bar, and especially the circular draped part of the set that allowed for projections-all created great visual variety and staging for the numbers. The transitions in this show were cleverly thought out and beautifully executed with scenes changing quickly, seamlessly, and with continuing action.

Although there were minor issues with the microphones, kudos go out to a member of the running crew who crawled onto the balcony to fix the body microphone of Carl Hanratty (Jack Posey) during the musical number “Little Boy Be a Man” when Hanratty’s mic failed. Posey gets credit for not moving an inch, dropping character, or skipping a beat. When the mic failed to work, suddenly a handheld mic appeared in Agent Carl’s hand, and the number seamlessly commenced. Kudos to the tech running crew for this flawless fix.

The swinging 60’s score is extremely interesting, with so much variety that it keeps you guessing. There are many different musical styles in this show – like Jazz (“Don’t Break the Rules”), Big Band (“Strange But True”), Blues and Dixieland (“Family Tree”) and one song with a Gospel feel (“Fly, Fly Away”). The thirteen musicians performing in the band, led by Musical Director Walter “Bobby” McCoy, did a phenomenal job of changing from one musical style to another effortlessly and kept the tempos perfectly in synch for the singers and dancers. The choreography echoed the music and matched the mood perfectly.

The role of con-man Frank Abagnale, Jr. was played by 16 year-old Alex Stone with confidence, charisma, and charm. Stone was a chameleon that shifted through his many personas with ease. Frank, Jr. starts as a loveable and charismatic naïve school boy, and transforms into a highly proficient con artist that masquerades as a substitute French teacher, a Pan Am co-pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. His pure tenor voice and superb dancing conjured images of Elvis Presley. His power ballad “Good Bye” was truly riveting and emotional, and showed his exceptional vocal chops. I could not have imagined it being performed any better.

Another phenomenal voice in the production was Jack Posey, playing FBI agent Carl Hanratty. At times, Posey’s singing reminded me of Harry Connick, Jr. Posey portrayed the loneliness of Hanratty extremely well, and was the polar opposite of Stone’s Abagnale. Their chemistry was strong, and the bonding they displayed in the closing song “Strange But True” was genuine.

The love interest for Frank Jr. was prominent in the second act and boy was she worth the wait! Adorable and endearing soon-to-be fiancée Brenda, played by Lily Lord, won our hearts with the eleven o’clock show stopping number “Fly Fly Away.” It was staged to perfection and embellished by technical choices that framed and enabled Lord’s dynamic, crystal clear warm resonant vocals to soar.

Hanratty’s sidekicks, FBI Agents Branton (Thomas Kelty), Cod (Marshall Downing) and Dollar (Christophe Jelinkski) were highly comical, with distinct characters that together formed a tight Marx Brothers-like trio. Strong performances also came from Matt Lucero and Nicole Sheehan as Frank’s parents, and Will Stockton as Brenda’s father. Nancy Pruett was a “firecracker” as Brenda’s mother Carol Strong. Anchoring the production, the ensemble dancers were in perfect synch while performing challenging combinations. A particular favorite was the rapidly-moving and syncopated musical number “Don’t Break the Rules.”

If you didn’t catch this performance, you missed out. This is was a ‘professional’ looking and directed and performed production. With such  strong performances from non-seniors, the future is bright at McLean High School Theater Company.

Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

Catch Me If You Can opens tonight  and plays through this Sunday, April 27, 2013 at McLean High School -1633 Davidson Road, in McLean, VA.
For tickets, purchase them online, or at the door.

Catch Me Banner for DCMTA

INTERVIEWS

Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 1: Director Amy Poe.

Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 2: Alex Stone, Jack Posey, and Lily Lord.

Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 3: Musical Director Walter (Bobby) McCoy.

Catch This! McLean High School’s’ Catch Me If You Can InterviewsPart 4: Choreographer Marielle Burt.

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Annie Bradley Ermlick
Annie Bradley Ermlick a member of SAG-AFTRA is an experienced actress, director, artistic director, technical director, choreographer, and a newly published songwriter. Someone who lives to support the arts, Annie was an Applied Voice Major at the Eastman School of Music and then went on to the Musical Theatre Program at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. At AMDA, Annie got her first professional break in an Off Broadway Show “Give My Regards to Broadway” and that 286-performance run led her to a successful and prosperous professional career as an actress. In addition to her professional musical theatre and play career in NYC, she has also performed in various Dinner Theatres and in Summer Stock. Annie feels fortunate to have been part of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, a Soprano Soloists Winner of the Pavarotti Vocal Competition, and to have toured through Europe. After recently joining community theatre in the DC Metro Area, Annie has cherished becoming a part of this network of local theatre families. Annie is proud to have been part of the WATCH judging program and holds a 2011 Nominee from WATCH in Directing, and a 2012 and 2013 Nominee for Supporting Actress in a Musical. Whether on stage, on production team, or writing about a show, Annie likes to help bring a story to life and ensure each show’s message is told and experienced by the audiences. Annie faces each new challenge head on and invests 100% of herself into each project. Her mission is to continue to grow as an actress, to support the arts, to give back to the community, and to help educate the next generation of actors. Annie feels writing for the DC Metro Theater Arts gives her a voice to support other artists, theatre companies and productions, and will bring more awareness to local residents of the quality of theatre in their own back yards. She enjoys giving feedback to help artists improve their craft and participating in promoting shows and, hopefully, expanding theatre companies growth throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

1 COMMENT

  1. Due to popular demand, the McLean High School Theatre Company (MTC) has added one encore performance of the musical Catch Me If You Can, May 3rd, 7 pm.

    With McLean’s Burks Auditorium again hosting this special encore presentation, info and advance tickets available at http://www.mcleandrama.com.

    Thanks DCMetroTheaterArts.com for covering this DC area premiere!

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