CATCH ME IF YOU CAN opened on Broadway Sunday, April 10, 2011 at the Neil Simon Theatre. This new musical, created by a team of Tony winners, features a book by Terrence McNally, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, choreography by Jerry Mitchell and is directed by Jack O'Brien. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is based on the book and hit 2002 DreamWorks film of the same name directed by Stephen Spielberg with screenplay by Jeff Nathanson and book by Frank Abagnale, Jr.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN stars Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz as Agent Carl Hanratty, Aaron Tveit as Frank Abagnale, Jr., Tony Award nominee Tom Wopat as Frank Abagnale, Sr., and Tony Award nominee Kerry Butler as Brenda Strong. The cast also features Rachel de Benedet as Paula Abagnale, Linda Hart as Carol Strong, Nick Wyman as Roger Strong, Joe Cassidy, Timothy McCuen Piggee, Brandon Wardell, Sara Andreas, Alex Ellis, Will Erat, Jennifer Frankel, Lisa Gajda, Bob Gaynor, Kearran Giovanni, Nick Kenkel, Grasan Kingsberry, Michael X. Martin, Aleks Pevec, Kristin Piro, Rachelle Rak, Joe Aaron Reid, Angie Schworer, Sabrina Sloan, Sarrah Strimel, Charlie Sutton, Katie Webber and Candice Marie Woods.
So the did show 'take off' with the critics? Let's find out...
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: The script also draws blunt parallel lines between Frank, the pursued, and Carl, the pursuer, a work-obsessed loner. They turn out to have a lot more in common than you might suspect (except that you do, from the beginning), and they are each dutifully given songs to explain how and why. 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. The notion of Frank as a little boy lost limits the performance of Mr. Tveit, who was terrific as the mother-haunting son in "Next to Normal." He has intense presence, for sure, and a bright, blasting voice (though it belongs more to the age of "American Idol" than "American Bandstand"). But his performance is ultimately one-note, all shine and no shadows.
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: One feat that Abagnale did not attempt was writing and starring in a stage musical about his youthful adventures. And now we know why. Not that Catch Me If You Can (* * ½ out of four), the new Broadway show based on the aforementioned film and autobiography of the same name, is a dud. 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 main problem with this production, which opened Sunday at the Neil Simon Theatre, is that only one of the two leading men is consistently compelling. And it's not the one playing Abagnale (Aaron Tveit).
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: "Catch Me If You Can" makes Abagnale a sympathetic figure guilty mainly of charming everybody. Tveit is handsome and sings well, but overuses his Colgate smile and lacks the pizazz necessary to sell the snake oil. This Frank is a junior, all right: many personas but little personality. Butz, on the other hand, has charisma to spare -- which is saying something, since he puts the "ratty" back in Hanratty. His body hunched at an angle, a greasy-looking hat perched on his head, he creates a fully rounded character, and displays unfailing musical-comedy flair.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: The show has wonderful moments, but issues abound. McNally's overstuffed story jockeys unsteadily between hijinks and serious drama. With Frank's story, the FBI agent's story and Frank's girlfriend's family's story, it's just too much. Shaiman and Wittman's score shows polish and style. "Butter Out of Cream" smoothly states Frank's life motto, while "Don't Be a Stranger" is a moody backdrop for a glamorous dance. But "(Our) Family Tree" and "Doctor's Orders" could've been cut and never missed.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: And yet there's something here that just isn't connecting, that smacks a bit of a color-by-numbers musical. A large reason may be the role of the hero, who is, after all, a cipher - a faker, a fraud, a man who is whatever we assume him to be. Beneath the pilot's uniform or doctor's white coat, there's little but a smile and a wink. "Blink your eyes and I'll be gone," he sings in one song. And he's right: He leaves nothing that resonates behind. Played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, this time the role of Frank Abagnale Jr. has been handed over to Aaron Tveit. As pretty as a Ken doll and blessed with a wonderful voice, Tveit nevertheless struggles to convey genuineness.