Alex Stone has returned to the stage to play one of his favorite roles: the con man: Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can at Montgomery College’s Summer Dinner Theatre, which ends its run this weekend.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on our local stages and what roles you have played.
Alex: I’m Alex Stone. I graduated from McLean High School and will be going into my second year at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Locally, I’ve played Edward Bloom in Big Fish at McLean Theatre Company, Tony in West Side Story with Young Artists of America, and Frankie in Parade at Theatre Lab.
How did you get the role of Frank Abagnale Jr. for Montgomery College’s Summer Dinner Theatre Production?
I saw the event on Facebook, auditioned, and was fortunate enough to get the role.
You have played the role before and won a Cappie Award for your performance. Tell us about that?
Yes, I played this role during my junior year in high school. Funny story, my good friend, Jack Posey, and I auditioned knowing in our hearts that he was going to get Frank Jr. and I would get Hanratty, the FBI agent chasing Frank Jr. throughout the show. So you can imagine our surprise when we got completely flipped on roles.
In the end, that production was fantastic and Jack and I fell perfectly into the roles we were cast as. I won a Cappie Award for Lead Actor in a Musical that year and was fortunate enough to sing it for Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman at the International Thespian Conference in Nebraska.
What is it about this character that you enjoy the most about playing him? Is there anything redeeming about this con artist? Has your opinion of Frank Jr. changed over the years?
The thing I like about Catch Me is the show itself is virtually all inside Frank’s head. The entire flashback of the show is shown through Frank’s memories or how he saw them. It’s safe to assume that not every flight attendant and nurse was a sexually icon or people on the street start breaking out into song and dance, but perhaps Frank’s saw what he wanted to see. And since it’s his image, his world, he can utterly bend it into whatever he wants as he leads, which feels a lot like the Lead Player in Pippin. So all in all, it’s both fantastic and a marathon to play on stage.
On the redeeming side of Frank, he is still just a kid. The sense of youthfulness and innocence isn’t lost in the script when he follows his impulses without think too far ahead or when orders milk and reads comic books. In real life, Frank swindled, conned and fooled so many people in simple easy ways. I still think he is a genius to get away with all that money that easily. What’s still more amazing is he did it from 16 to 20, just becoming a young adult. I’m 19 and I almost know how to fill out a W-2 without asking for help.
How much of yourself is in this character and the way you play him?
I’m not nearly as smart as he was at my age. But Frank is a family man, which I something I can level on. Through the show, the goal for him is to get his family back to the way it was. It’s an admirable goal and one I’d follow if I was in his shoes.
Now that you have a different director working with you on this production- how is this production and the direction similar and different since you performed the show and role at McLean High School?
The set and costumes differ for the most part, but the specific direction I was given as Frank was quite similar. Both my previous mentor, Amy Poe, and recent director, Patrick Pearson, understood Frank’s personality and intentions to the nail. They gave lots to work with but also immense amounts of freedom.
How has your performance changed and/or evolved?
Absolutely! Doing the same show twice will never have to same performances, but I believe college has changed me more than that. Sharpening my skills and practicing every day around those as committed as I am diffidently ups my game. My dancing has significantly improved, my voice is stronger and my acting has more intense training behind it.
What do we learn about Frank Jr. during your ‘big’ solos?
Most of the songs in the show are solos for Frank. But more specifically it’s a self-aware show, so most of the time he knows he is singing verse not being able to express his emotions through speaking anymore.
“Goodbye” is a bitch to sing. Is it easier vocally to sing it now since you first sang it at Mclean? Has your voice changed since the first production and has the meaning of the song changed for you?
Oh indeed it is! At training to sing as a high tenor for a year at CCM, yes my voice is strong enough to push through it show after show after show. The meaning, however, stays the same. He is still saying goodbye to his life of crime and the whole charade of the show.
How would you describe Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s score and which song that you do not sing is your favorite and why?
Flashy, loud and proud. They are some of the greats and this music is no exceptions to their fame. My favorite song I don’t sing is Don’t Break the Rules because it sounds fantastically jazzy, it probably the best song in the show and I dream that someday I will play Hanratty.
You had an amazing experience singing “Goodbye” for Marc and Scott that lead to you performing with them in several concerts. Tell our readers about that and update us on what’s happening now regarding performing your relationship with them.
Again, I sang for them at the International Thespian Conference in Nebraska. After that, they asked me to perform with them on PBS American Songbook. It was extremely humbling and insanely awesome. Today we stay in touch and I tell him about what I am up to know and then. Very long distance friends.
What do you admire about your fellow cast members and Director Patrick Pearson, and the way he has directed you?
Everyone in the cast rolls with whatever is thrown at them, either from Patrick on the director side or myself during a run. Sometimes I’ll take some dialogue in a scene a completely different direction and they have to follow me and they do a great job and keeping cool and rolling with the punches. Patrick has a fantastic way of knowing exactly how a scene looks, how to assemble it and what the actors need to create it. He gives so much to use of stage that no matter which option I choose, it will always feel great on stage.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Catch Me If You Can?
This is a very cotton candy show – lots of fun and enjoyment, no huge meaningful moral to learn. I want to my audience to just have fun, be lost in the show for a bit, and have a nice night in the theater.
Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 2: Alex Stone, Jack Posey, and Lily Lord by Joel Markowitz.
Review of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ by Annie Bradley Ermlick.
Catch Me If You Can continues its run tomorrow, Friday, July 29th at 6 PM (Dinner) and 7:30 PM (Show), Saturday, July 30th at 6 PM (Dinner) and 7:30 PM (Show), and Sunday, July 31st at 12:30 PM (Lunch Buffet) and 2 PM (Show) at Montgomery College’s Summer Dinner Theatre – 51 Mannakee Street, in Rockville, MD. Purchase tickets online.