Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

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.

Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

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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.  

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About this blog
Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer. She also is a contributing writer for Variety and American Theatre magazine. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of four books about four playwrights (Rabe, McNally, Miller, Albee), and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). Her 'weekend' job as a travel writer provides adventure: dogsledding in the Yukon, ziplining in Belize, walking coast-to-coast across England, and cowboying in the Australian Outback.


Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.


Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.


Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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