By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer
If it were funny, you might think it was a parody of cheesy musicals. But it’s not—funny or a parody. It’s just cheesy. Also boring. The touring company at the Academy of Music is generally talentless in the singing and dancing departments. And it’s shocking to learn how many Broadway names are credited with creating Catch Me If You Can: Terrence McNally wrote the book, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote the score, Jerry Mitchell choreographed, William Ivey Long designed the costumes and Jack O’Brien directed.
And they had such good material to start with: a true and astounding story of Frank Abagnale, Jr—a con man and a thief, who, as a teenager, managed to fool the world into believing he was a pilot for Pan Am, and then a doctor and then a lawyer. All the while being chased by an obsessed FBI agent named Hanratty. The entertaining movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio captured the fun of watching a world-class charlatan, a con man who conned the world. And Tom Hanks did the chasing.
So to start with, you need a charmer to be charmed by: DiCaprio, with his boyish grin was perfect. In this musical, the role of Frank is played by the uncharming Stephen Anthony, his smarmy father by Dominic Fortuna, and the FBI agent by Merritt David Janes. There are a bevy (as they used to be called before they became a binder) of women in tiny skirts, often flapping giant feather fans. There’s an onstage big brassy band. The choreography actually makes it all the way to funny, however unintentionally. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, fake snow starts to fall.
Academy of Music, Broad & Locust Sts. Through Jan.20. Tickets $ 20-100. Information: 215-893-1999 or kimmelcenter.org/broadway.