I'm a freelance writer living in Sydney. I have a Bachelor and Honours degree in Theatre and work also as a freelance director.
Based on the true story and the film of the same title, 'Catch Me if You Can' is a new musical with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Scott Wittman and music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman (Hairspray, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory the musical & Smash). The story follows young con artist, Frank Abagnale Jr. as he convinces FBI agent Carl Hanratty to let him tell the audience his life story. We see Frank Jr. as a young teenager, learning tricks of the trade from his father and setting out on a journey to make millions, by scamming each person he meets. Set in the 1960s, the score is a tapestry of musical genius that will leave you tapping your feet for more.
Belinda Robinson's direction is simple and effective and with her debut in the creative role, she has successfully navigated a large cast and crew with ease. Her use of the audience entry point aided the demolishing of the fourth wall and allowed the audience to become part of the performance. Robinson also designed the set, and the stationary platform coupled with single set pieces to represent each scene abled an easy flow through the story. Kirrily Shaw's choreography was neat and effective, and she was able to use the ensemble's strengths to add light and shade to the many impressive dance numbers. While some of the choreographic choices didn't fit the style exactly, Shaw brought every ensemble number to life with pizazz. Her best creative work shines through in "Live in Living Colour" and "Don't Break the Rules" where she manages to include a rousing tap number.
The third piece to the production team puzzle is where 'Catch Me If You Can' shone the brightest. Musical director Dane Carroll is a man of many and varied talents; not only does he have a cast with tight vocals, but he leads a slick and incredible band whilst also playing percussion, saxophone and lending his booming voice to the production. Carroll brought Shaiman's music to life with impeccable attention to detail ┬ľ every element fit perfectly where it needed to.
Playing the leading role of Frank Abagnale Jr is Tom Ragen, who showcases jaw-dropping vocals and an infectious stage presence. On more than one occasion Ragen hits notes with the same ease and impressiveness as Aaron Tivet, who originated the role on Broadway. Paul Adderley, who brings a truthful light and shade to the production, personifies the role of Carl Hanratty and displays his best performance in his rendition of "The Man Inside the Clues". Together the pair provide engaging and impressive portrayals of their respective characters and take the audience with them on their whirlwind journey.
Paul Rigg and Lorna McGee give impressive performances as Frank's parents, Frank Abagnale Sr and Paula Abagnale with McGee showcasing exquisite vulnerability during "Don't be a Stranger". Emily Potts brought a beautiful grace the starry-eyed young nurse Brenda Strong who becomes Frank Jr's love interest and the reason he inevitably gets caught.
Paul Morrison is perfectly cast as Agent Dollar, receiving the largest laugh of the night purely through his physical characterisations. The young ensemble is slick, energetic, well-rehearsed and manages to convey various roles with ease. All solo lines were performed impressively and with gusto. Stand out performances are given by Bernadette Wallace and Daniella Caruso who both exhibit eye-catching stage presence and stand out vocals.
The sound provided by Birdie Productions was exceptional, however as is with every production at the Rockdale Town Hall, a lot of it is muffled by the poor acoustics of the large room, making it difficult to hear the performers when a scene is underscored. Birdie's lighting was simple and effective, yet some of the performers struggled to find the light to stand in, which meant some songs and dialogue were performed in darkness or with half of their face in light. This is, however, an issue that will likely improve with the season.
Bernadette Wallace's costumes were outstanding and true to the era and style. The attention to detail given to each outfit is stunning and definitely a highlight of the production. Special mention also to the projections designed by Shane Jarvis and Sarah Shanahan-Jarvis. There were some very clever moments, in particular, the opening, that tied the piece together effectively.
Regals Musical Society President, Peter Sharratt, writes "if you come away from the show feeling entertained then we have done our job" and this is certainly the outcome of Opening Night of what is sure to be a production that continues to grow in strength and energy over the two-week season. Regals has a reputation as a society that produces quality dance musicals that engage enthusiastic and talented young performers in both traditional and contemporary musical works. Their production of 'Catch Me if You Can' was live in living colour, and stayed true to this reputation.