Catch Me If You Can
by Terrence McNally
Catch Me If You Can is a musical adapted from the 2002 film of the same name, with a book by Terrence McNally and a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The musical opened on Broadway in 2011 after a 2009 Seattle tryout. Frank Abagnale, Jr., a young con man, is cornered in an airport by FBI Agent Carl Hanratty and his team. Hanratty asserts that there’s use in running, as his men are trained to shoot.
Type & Version
Apr 10, 2011 – Sept 4,2011
Musical, Original, Broadway
Neil Simon Theatre, NY, USA
Frank Abagnale, Jr., a young con man, is cornered in an airport by FBI Agent Carl Hanratty and his team. Hanratty asserts that there’s use in running, as his men are trained to shoot. Before his arrest, Frank pleads Hanratty to allow him to inform the people in the aiport why they’re shooting at him, though Hanratty only wants to know how he passed the bar exam in New Orleans to pose as a lawyer. Frank promises he will tell him all his secrets if they allow him to tell his story “Live in Living Color”. A reluctant Hanratty agrees.
In a home in New Rochelle, New York, Frank lived with his parents Frank Abagnale, Sr., and Paula Abagnale. He explains that his parents met in Paris, France, during World War II. Paula was performing at a dinner, and noticed Frank, Sr. among the soldiers in the audience (“The Pinstripes Are All That They See”), marrying him soon after. Due to money shortages, Frank is unable to attend private school, nonetheless wearing his school jacket to public school. He is taunted there as looking like a substitute teacher; in a few days, the prinipcal informs his parents that Frank has been teaching French class at the school while their teacher is absent.
One day, Frank walks home from school to find his mother dancing with one of Frank, Sr.’s friends. She pleads him not to tell Frank, Sr., but a distraught Frank is soon in court, with Paula and Frank, Sr. fighting over custody of him. Frank decides to run away (“Someone Else’s Skin”). He soon learns how to create fake checks, cashing them at banks across the country and successfully conning millions of dollars.
While entering a New York City hotel, Frank notices several women, all of them stewardesses; he decides to become a pilot. After creating a fake ID card, he finds a co-pilot job at Pan American World Airways. The workers express the joys of a life in the skies (“Jet Set”). Hanratty finds several fake checks on his desk in Washington, D. C., with him and Agents Branton, Dollar, and Cod assigned to track down the writer of these fake checks (“Live in Living Color (reprise)”). Hanratty gives a word of wisdom to whoever wrote the checks: “Don’t Break the Rules”.
Frank is enjoying his pilot job, remembering how his dad always said that “women love a man in uniform”, as “The Pinstripes Are All That They See”. Feeling homesick, he goes to visit Frank, Sr., upset to find out that he had to close his store to save money. Frank offers him several checks to improve his financial situation, but frank, Sr. disagrees, believing that Frank should be happy with his success and not worry about him (“Butter Outta Cream”). Meanwhile, Hanratty finds leftover items from the hotel Frank had just stayed at, looking for “The Man inside the Clues”.
Frank attends a holiday party for the airport staff (“Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year”), but ultimately feels lonely, calling Hanratty on a pay phone for comfort. Hanratty, realizing the culprit is just a kid, reveals that he, two, has no one to spend Christmas with (“My Favorite Time of Year”).
Frank comes across another staff party, this time for a hospital. When asked what his job is by one of the doctors, Frank lies that he is a pediatrician at the Death Valley Children’s Hospital, working with “snot-nosed kids” and calling himself “Dr. Connors”. Feeling sorry for him, the doctor finds him a job, surrounded by nurses who are ready to take the “Doctor’s Orders”.
Hanratty is still searching for Frank, going through missing person reports (“Live in Living Color (reprise)”). He eventually finds the house of Paula and her new husband, questioning them on the whereabouts of Frank. She tells him not to worry, as does Frank, Sr., as both plead Frank, “Don’t Be a Stranger”. While talking to Frank, Sr. at a bar, Hanratty realizes they both had overbearing fathers (“Little Boy Be a Man”).
Meanwhile, Frank has fallen in love with one of the nurses, Brenda Strong, though she finds him intimidating. He tells her that he has seen the “Seven Wonders”, but that none of them compare to her beauty. Brenda brings Frank to meet her family, where he lies that he’s a lawyer, doctor, and a Lutheran to impress her father. Her father does not beleive him, but gives him permission to be with Brenda after Frank says how much he loves her. Brenda’s parents, Carol and Roger Strong, tell Frank that they have a “family sing-along” each night after dinner; they turn on the television to the song “(Our) Family Tree”, after which Frank proposes to Brenda and she accepts.
Shortly before the engagement ceremony, Frank discovers that Hanratty has figured out where he is, telling Brenda his real name: “Frank William Abagnale, Jr.” He promises to return after escaping from Hanratty. Just as he leaves, Hanratty enters, asking Brenda where Frank went. She laments that she loves Frank and would never tell him (“Fly, Fly Away”), but is tricked into doing so shortly thereafter.
The story returns to the opening scene, where Frank is cornered in an airport. The agents escort passengers out of the area, as Frank threatens to run. Hanratty states that he doesn’t want to use force, but would have to if Frank ran. Hanratty informs Frank that his father died; a drunken Frank, Sr. had fallen down stairs at the bar, breaking his neck. Realizing he has nobody, Frank gives in to Hanratty (“Good-Bye”). Although sentenced to fifty-five years in prison, Frank is released after seven. Shortly after his release, he is hired by Hanratty and the FBI to track down others who commited his crime. Hanratty and Frank embrace, noting that their partnership is “Strange But True”. Before the curtain closes, Hanratty makes Frank keep his primise, telling him how he passed the New Orleans bar exam. Frank tells a surprised Hanratty that he didn’t cheat: “I studied.”
Readings and workshops The musical had a reading in 2005, directed by Jack O’Brien, with Nathan Lane, Tom Wopat, and Matthew Morrison. In private workshops held in July 2007, O’Brien was director, with Nathan Lane and Christian Borle. Other actors involved in the readings have included Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz, Brandon Wardell, Autumn Hurlbert, Lauren Ashley Zakrin and Annaleigh Ashford.
The musical was originally scheduled to premiere on July 25, 2009 at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, with Jack O’Brien as director and choreography by Jerry Mitchell. The 5th Avenue Theatre previously held the world premiere of the creative team’s hit musical Hairspray. The first week of previews of the show were cancelled due to a tragedy in Norbert Leo Butz’s family (Butz played Carl Hanratty). The musical premiered on July 28, 2009 and ended August 16, 2009.
In addition to Butz, the cast included Aaron Tveit as Frank, Tom Wopat as Frank Sr., Kerry Butler as Brenda, Linda Hart as Carol, and Nick Wyman as Roger.
The production received mostly positive reviews from critics.
Broadway Production The musical opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, (where Hairspray also had its Broadway run) in previews on March 11, 2011, with the opening scheduled for April 10, 2011. The show features most of the Seattle cast, with Butz, Tveit, Wopat, and Butler appearing in leading roles. Other Seattle cast members include: Linda Hart, Nick Wyman, Rachel DeBenedet, Brandon Wardell, Timothy McCuen Piggee, and Angie Schworer. The production has scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by William Ivey Long, and lighting design by Kenneth Posner; O’Brien and Mitchell are the director and choreographer, respectively.
The Broadway production received mixed reviews. The most positive review came from Michael Giltz of the Huffington Post: “Catch Me If You Can is a sheer delight from the poignant and brilliant book by Terrence McNally to the sexy but character-driven choreography by Jerry Mitchell to the perfect sets by David Rockwell to the spot-on costumes by William Ivey Long to Kenneth Posner’s marvelous lighting. It’s all tied together by the superlative direction of Jack O’Brien which is seamless in weaving together drama, comedy, dance, acting, genuine scenes of pathos and casual banter with the audience and orchestra.”
Ben Brantley of the New York Times wrote, “With “Hairspray” Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Wittman lucratively mined another vein of the 1960s — Motown-style pop — so taking on “Catch Me” seemed a natural. But this time they’re doing pastiches of music from television variety shows — of both the Mitch Miller and Dean Martin kinds — a form that is dangerously close to lounge and elevator music. The flashy musical numbers definitely emerge from the plot, just as they are supposed to do in your basic organic musical, but they sometimes have the chalky flavor of audio-visual aids.”
Thorm Geier of Entertainment Weekly gave the show a “B-” and said, “Part of the problem with Catch Me If You Can is Terrence McNally’s book, which is oddly paced and curiously structured. When Abagnale is arrested by the feds in the opening scene, he takes the opportunity to tell his own story from the beginning in the style of a ’60s TV show. Why a TV show and not a Broadway play? I have no idea. Perhaps composer Marc Shaiman is just accustomed to the idiom since ’60s TV factored so largely in his Tony-winning hit Hairspray. Shaiman has also conceived the music as a pastiche of early ’60s musical styles, all of them curiously pre-rock. Unfortunately, this makes the score seem even more old-fashioned than some of the musicals genuinely from that era (like the current hit revival How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying). Under the direction of Jack O’Brien, though, Catch Me If You Can moves mostly in fits and starts. But the creators of Catch Me If You Can have rigged the game against them. What should have been a fun lark of a story seems almost stodgy, like your grandmother’s idea of a good time.”
In Steven Suskin’s review of the show in Variety, he wrote, “Tuner has fine credentials, with the lead producer, songwriters, director, choreographer, designers and two featured actresses from the 2002 megahit “Hairspray” returning to the Neil Simon. “Catch” shares the time period with the former hit as well, but the high quotient of irrepressibly sly fun is missing. Noticeably absent is the typical creative inventiveness of director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. The score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman is more ambitious than their work on “Hairspray,” but they are hamstrung by all those production numbers for sexy stewardesses and sexy nurses. Newcomer to the writing team is librettist Terrence McNally, with reportedly extensive ghostwriting by Brian Yorkey (“Next to Normal”). The problem, though, doesn’t seem to be the book but the source material. If there is a musical to be made from this tale of a bumbling FBI agent chasing a naively innocent charmer, the creators haven’t found it.”
Elysa Gardner of USA Today said, “Boasting a score by the famously witty team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and a book by Terrence McNally, Catch Me is too ambitious and stylish in its efforts to entertain and move us to induce boredom. The musical is structured so that we see our mischievous finagler crafting his own story, introducing some numbers and then literally trying to sing and dance his way out of trouble. It’s a canny conceit, but one that only emphasizes the character’s disingenuousness. There are other elegant and frisky flourishes, from William Ivey Long’s eye-candy costumes to Jerry Mitchell’s vampish choreography — both of which draw attention to the leggy, voluptuous figures in the female ensemble. Still, in failing to deliver a youthful protagonist you can really cheer for, this Catch Me If You Can may leave you feeling a bit cheated.”
“Live in Living Color” – Frank Jr. and Company
“The Pinstripes Are All That They See” – Frank Sr., Frank Jr, and Ladies
“Someone Else’s Skin” – Frank Jr. and Company
“Jet Set” – Frank Jr. and Company
“Live in Living Color (Reprise)” – Frank Jr.
“Don’t Break the Rules” – Hanratty and Company
“The Pinstripes Are All That They See (Reprise)” – The Ladies
“Butter Outta Cream” – Frank Jr. and Frank Sr.
“The Man inside the Clues” – Hanratty
“Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year” – Partygoers
“My Favorite Time of Year” – Hanratty, Frank Jr., Frank Sr., and Paula
“Doctor’s Orders” – Nurses
“Live in Living Color (Reprise)” – Frank Jr.
“Don’t Be a Stranger” – Paula and Frank Sr.
“Little Boy Be a Man” – Frank Sr. and Hanratty
“Seven Wonders” – Frank Jr. and Brenda
“(Our) Family Tree” – Carol, Roger, Brenda, Frank Jr., and Strong Family Singers
“Fly, Fly Away” – Brenda
“Goodbye” – Frank Jr.
“Strange But True” – Frank Jr. and Hantratty
Catch Me If You Can Broadway Best Price Now
Catch Me If You Can [Cast Recording] Aaron Tveit, Norbert Leo Butz, Kerry Butler, Tom Wopat, Linda Hart
Original Broadway Cast
Frank Abagnale, Jr. — Aaron Tveit
Carl Hanratty — Norbert Leo Butz
Frank Abagnale, Sr. — Tom Wopat
Paula Abagnale — Rachel de Benedet
Brenda Strong — Kerry Butler
Carol Strong — Linda Hart
Roger Strong — Nick Wyman
FBI Agent Johnny Dollar — Brandon Wardell
FBI Agent Todd Branton — Joe Cassidy
FBI Agent Bill Cod — Timothy McCuen Piggee
Awards and Nominations
|2011||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Norbert Leo Butz||Won|
|Best Sound Design||Steve Canyon Kennedy||Nominated|
|Best Orchestrations||Marc Shaiman and Larry Blank||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Norbert Leo Butz||Won|||
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Tom Wopat||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Kerry Butler||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Marc Shaiman||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lyrics||Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman||Nominated|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Marc Shaiman and Larry Blank||Nominated|
1. Haun, Harry. “Making Bountiful Music Together”. Playbill, March 19, 2011, pgs 10-11, accessed 20 March 2011.
2. “Jerry Mitchell on Board to Choreograph McNally-Shaiman-Wittman Catch Me If You Can”, playbill.com, October 20, 2005
3. “Lane and Borle Will Play Catch Me If You Can for New Musical’s Workshop”, playbill.com, July 10, 2007
4. “Catch Me If You Can Reading Set for 2008” playbill.com, December 3, 2007
5. Nondorf, Tom.”THE LEADING MEN: Tveit, Sutton and Caruso” playbill.com, September 3, 2008,
6. July 24, 2008 autumnhurlbert.com
7. Henderson, Kathy.”Fresh Face: Annaleigh Ashford” broadway.com, June 21, 2007
8. Berson, Misha.”5th Avenue season’s unique “Catch”: a musical based on Spielberg film”, The Seattle Times, March 1, 2009
9. Hetrick, Adam.”Live in Living Color”: ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Lands on Broadway March 11″ Playbill.com, March 11, 2011
10.^ Hetrick, Adam.”Catch Me If You Can Previews Cancelled Through July 26,” playbill.com, July 22, 2009
11.Hetrick, Adam.Broadway-Aimed “Catch Me If You Can Ends Seattle Premiere Run Aug. 16” playbill.com, August 16, 2009
12. Gans, Andrew.”Butz, Tveit, Wopat, Butler, Hart, deBenedet to Star in Catch Me If You Can Premiere”, playbill.com, March 12, 2009
13. “Musical looking like Broadway ‘Catch’” variety.com
14. Staff.”Sneak Peak Meet the Cast of ‘Catch Me If You Can’” broadwayworld.com, January 24, 2011
15. Staff.”‘Catch Me If You Can’” broadwayworld.com, January 31, 2011
16. Hetrick, Adam.”Catch Me If You Can Books Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre” Playbill.com, September 29, 2010
17. “Catch Me If You Can” playbill, March 2011
22. “Broadway Review Roundup: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN”. BroadwayWorld.com. April 10, 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
23. Giltz, Michael.Theater: “Catch Me If You Can” Dazzles Broadway huffingtonpost.com, April 10, 2011
24. Brantley, Ben.Theater Review ‘Catch Me if You Can’ Scamming as Fast as He Can The New York Times, April 10, 2011
25. Geier, Thorm.“Stage Review:’Catch Me If You Can’” Entertainment Weekly, April 11, 2011
26. Suskin, Steven.“‘Catch Me If You Can’ Variety Review” Variety, April 11, 2011
27. Gardner, Elysa.“‘Catch Me’ doesn’t capture art of the con” USAToday, April 11, 2011
28. Jones, Kenneth“War Horse, Book of Mormon, Anything Goes, Normal Heart Win 2011 Tony Awards” playbill.com, June 12, 2011
30 Hetrick, Adam (May 11, 2011). “Catch Me If You Can Cast Album to Arrive May 23”. Playbill.com. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
31. Sunwoo, Carla “Three join ‘Catch Me if You Can’” Joongang Daily. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27