The production hits more lows than highs despite a tremendous effort from the ensemble
There’s only so much a talented and dedicated cast can do with a sinking ship. The Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society’s amateur production of Catch Me If You Can: The Musical is proof that all the enthusiasm in the world can’t disguise a boring piece of theatre.
While lead actor Brandon Schwartz is a trained jazz singer with a voice comparable to a young Josh Groban, the show’s music, written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, isn’t quite toe-tapping.
Based on the 2002 Dreamworks film of the same name, Catch Me If You Can follows the true story of a young con artist of the 1960s, named Frank Abagnale Jr., who manages to impersonate a pilot, doctor and lawyer all before his 19th birthday. While the film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, is fast-paced and charming, the musical adaptation relies too heavily on corny jokes, meta self-awareness and extended jazzy dance routines better suited to a Broadway stage than a black box theatre.
Running long at two hours and 45 minutes, the dialogue and space between songs seemed to drag on and on. The ensemble of just over a dozen extremely dedicated dancers should be commended for their sustained energy and use of the small space in the Segal Centre’s intimate studio.
The chorus clearly spent many hours rehearsing many complicated choreographies created by Alexia Gourd that ultimately worked to their credit.
Actor Mike Melino, who played avid FBI detective Carl Hanratty, was a highlight. Melino’s gruff manners, thick moustache and steadfast commitment to his performance deserve special note. His lead songs, “Don’t Break The Rules” and “Little Boy Be A Man,” were a refreshing break from the often-repetitive melodies and routines.
Matthew McKeown and Marieve Guerin, who played Frank’s father and mother respectively, also deserve credit for lending their substantial talent to the production.
Despite the disappointing elements of the show, the production quality was surprisingly good. Many of the costumes were painstakingly handmade and what the space lacked in elaborate scenery, it made up for in the presence and playing of the live band.
While the story of Catch Me If You Can is light and fun, the musical fails in its presentation of any emotional depth. While Schwartz’s acting is partially responsible, the musical’s original reception on Broadway, closing after only 170 regular performances in 2011, says perhaps more.
Ultimately, the musical numbers, especially those given to female characters, fail to amaze and the choppy narration by Frank, paired with the self-aware framework of the show, seems like lazy writing more than anything else.