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'Catch Me if You Can': Bland on the run

The road tour of the Broadway musical "Catch Me if You Can" arrives at the Kravis Center with quite the pedigree.

Terrence McNally ("Love! Valour! Compassion!," "Ragtime") wrote the book. The tune-team of Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman ("Hairspray") wrote the score. In fact, much of the creative team from the mega-hit musical "Hairspray" returned for this splash-and-dash version of the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie, including the designers and choreographer — each and every one of them a Tony Award magnet, so there is nothing aleatory about it.

And their work is so slick that as the cast members take their well-deserved bows, and you glance at the time, you are a little surprised that two hours and 30 minutes have passed. Really? Yeah, yeah … But you just can't shake the feeling that in that amount of time, a musical comedy should have made you tap your foot a little more and laugh a lot more. "Catch" needs less cool and more crazy.

If you saw the film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, then you know the plot is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a teenage con artist in the Swingin' '60s who charms his way into jobs as a teacher, pilot, doctor and lawyer. His foil is dry, by-the-book FBI agent Carl Hanratty, a huffing and puffing Javert to Frank's lean, sheen Jean Valjean.

Early on, the cat-and-mouse game is framed as a 1960s-era variety TV show — think "Hullabaloo," "Shindig" and "Hollywood Palace," complete with leggy dancers twisting, jerking and ponying their hearts out. But all that seems to slip away five or six songs in, leaving a more-traditional book.


You can't blame Stephen Anthony as Frank. The Miamian conducts himself with polish, ramps up nicely for the emotional climax and sings with a Bobby Darin-like swing. Similarly, Merritt David Janes as Hanratty is great at the slow simmer and comes as close as anyone to stopping the show with his explosive "Don't Break the Rules" number. They are both supported by a nail-it-to-the-floor cast, especially Dominic Fortuna as Frank's father and Aubrey Mae Davis as Brenda, the criminally underwritten love interest for Frank.

Even though the chorus dances with plenty of pep, and the sets slip and slide with fluidity into place (the show makes clever use of projected scenery), the musical comes off a bit static in a strangely fast-paced way. It may be the script, which tries to do too much from family dysfunction and criminal forgery to "Mad Men" cultural vibes and budding bromance.

This cute show — and that is the word for it — just never quite builds up enough fun, frenzy and fizz to spill over the footlights and into the audience.

Catch Me if You Can

When: Through Nov. 18; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. matinee Sunday

Where: Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

Cost: Tickets start at $25.

Contact: 561-832-7469 or

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