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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Catch Me If You Can - Original Broadway Cast Recording

Catch Me If You Can - Original Broadway Cast Recording
2011, Ghostlight Records

The Silver Screen and The Great White Way have certainly had their share of trysts over the years.  Recent years have seen a number of hits (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Sister Act!) as well as more dubious efforts (Legally Blond, Footloose), but the stage continues to attract remakes of motion pictures classic and otherwise.  The latest entry of this sort is Catch Me If You Can, based on the book and 2002 Dreamworks film that immortalized Frank Abagnale, Jr., a real-life con man who was brought to justice and ended up working for the FBI.   On Broadway, Abagnale Jr. is played by Aaron Tveit (Hairspray, Wicked), with 2-time TONY Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels taking on the role of Carl Hanratty).  The remainder of the cast is outstanding, with Tom Wopat (Dukes of Hazzard, A Catered Affair, Sondheim On Sondheim), Rachel De Benedet (The Sound Of Music, Nine) and Linda Hart (Anything Goes, Hairspray).    Ghostlight Records released the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Catch Me If You Can in May in digital format.  The CD follows on June 28, 2011.
For fans of traditional Broadway, Catch Me If You Can is like manna in the dessert.  The only bit of bad luck for this show is opening in the same year that nouveau Broadway juggernaut The Book Of Mormon came to town.  The score, written by Marc Shaiman (Hairspray, Sleepless In Seattle, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Flipped)  and Scott Wittman (Hairspray) is utterly brilliant, combining the dark beauty of Cy Coleman and the buoyant melodies of Sondheim.  Aaron Tveit and Tom Wopat shine, but its Norbert Leo Butz who makes the world go ‘round in Catch Me If You Can.  The theme song, if you will, of his character, Carl Hanratty, “Don’t Break The Rules”, is perhaps one of the best original compositions to hit the Broadway stage in the past two decades, and Butz plays it from an anachronistic character full of the vim and vigor of a zealot, but with an exceedingly human side. 
The cast album is full of amazing moments, however.  The opening number, “Live In Living Color” sets the stage perfectly for a show that’s larger than life, but never forgets the details of human emotion and imperfection that are the currents the characters travel upon.  “Some Else’s Skin” gets the action rolling; laying out the motivation for Abagnale Jr.’s flights of fancy.  “Butter Outta Cream” is a delicious duo between the Abagnales, father and son, and Aaron Tveit and Tom Wopat achieve an uneasy but comfortable chemistry that will sound familiar to fathers and sons everywhere.  “Christmas Is My Favorite Time Of Year” is a turning point in the show; the first personal contact understanding between Abagnale and Hanratty.  Terrence McNally gives wonderful life to the characters here with his musical dialogue and the construction of relationship archetypes that as personal as they are universal. 
The comedic highlight of the album (and show) is “Little Boy, Be A Man”; an exploration, in caricature, of the imperfections of fatherhood.  The humor here bites hard, but with heart, while Hanratty continues his investigation and begins to close the distance on Abagnale.  This duet between Butz and Wopat features a distinctive chemistry. Things move quickly toward resolution, with Abagnale falling in love (“(Our) Family Tree”), getting caught (“Goodbye”) and being brought to justice (“Stuck Together (Strange But True)”).  This last number closes out the show, and covers both the end of our story, and the aftermath, where Abagnale turns the tables and becomes one of the FBI’s best analysts involving check fraud.  The cast recording also includes a bonus song, Tom Wopat’s “Fifty Checks”.  This is a nice little number that certainly adds to the story, but doesn’t really find a home in the flow of the show. 
Catch Me If You Can borrows some of the musical-noir atmosphere from Cy Coleman’s City Of Angels while telling a compelling story riddled with human imperfection and the hope of redemption.  Anyone who has seen the movie of the same name or read Frank Abagnale Jr.’s book will be familiar with the premise going in, and while liberties have been taken to help the flow of the story for the Broadway stage, the heart and soul of the tale remain intact.  Terrence McNally’s book and Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman’s score go together like butter and toast, and the all star cast, including TONY winner Norbert Leo Butz, Aaron Tveit and Tom Wopat, make the most of every delicious minute.  Catch Me If You Can is everything you could want out of a Broadway Cast Recording, a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Catch Me If You Can at www.catchmethemusical.comCatch Me If You Can drops on CD on June 28, 2011.  You can pre-order your copy from  Digital versions are already available from Amazon and iTunes.

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