Ok I’ll admit, that title is pretty sexist. But those were the times! Whitby Courthouse Theatre’s production of “Catch Me If You Can” is based on the life of the infamous Frank Abagnale Jr. and is set from 1963-1969. So ya, short skirts and pretty ladies were kinda of a big thing back then (hell, they still are!). I knew nothing about the music of this show going in; I knew the story because of the movie, but not the music. What a fantastic score! So much fun and flavour and it was great to see it brought to life in good ol’ Whitby!
To bring a major musical like this together you need continuity. Something that makes the whole show seem tight, together and concise. For this production, that was the brilliant and exuberant choreography of Ms. Baiba Senecal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that woman works wonders! Baiba is a remarkable teacher and such a dynamic choreographer. She was lucky that she had some pretty stellar dancers in this show (SHOUT OUT to Alex Lembo, Amber Sargent and Julia Basden especially!) and the remainder of the ensemble looked sharp and fresh as they danced their little butts off to Baiba’s smooth 1960s dance moves.
Have you ever been hugged by Tom Lynch? If you haven’t, you should go to a show he’s in, become his friend and make sure to get as many hugs as possible. He gives damn good hugs. He also sings, dances and acts with the best of them! He was quite the charmer as Frank Abagnale Sr. and look damn fine in that pin-stripped suit. He has such a strong voice (technically and volume) and really captured my attention whenever he was on stage.
Brian Hargan is a guy who I have always wanted to work with and haven’t had to the chance to do so as of yet. In whatever role he plays, he always comes across so casual and at home… like he’s just being himself. Yet every time I see him in a show, he’s playing completely different type characters. Just goes to show you that true talent does exist in community theatre. Brian was funny, loveable and sang sexy tenor notes that made me feel a little bit tingly inside. He was the perfect Carl Hanratty and quite frankly (after listening to the Broadway soundtrack on the way home) gave Norbert Leo Butz a run for his money.
Abigail Denardis came on stage. That was basically all she had to do for me to fall in love with her. She played Brenda Strong, the sweet, innocent nurse who Frank Jr. falls in love with. First off, she’s cute as a button. I was watching her do scene after scene and I found myself waiting….. Waiting for what you ask? To be honest I didn’t know. I just felt like something was coming. Like I wasn’t seeing all that she could do. And then it happened. Abigail opened her mouth, started to sing and stole the whole freakin’ show! Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote a beautiful ballad for the end of Act 2 that is sung by Brenda called “Fly, Fly Away” and Abigail nailed it. I couldn’t stop staring at her. Her voice was strong and easy. There was so much emotion and connection with what she was singing. Honestly, I haven’t been struck like that at a show in a long time.
Additional shout outs:
- To Kathy Knight for giving me LOL in the role of Carole Strong. Every time I see you, I love you and you make me laugh. Never Stop!
- To Mr. Hanratty’s 3 Stooges, portrayed by the hilarious Brett Huether, Josh Ford and Nathan Simpson –> You guys were the perfect combination of charmingly pathetic and delightfully stupid.
- To the kick-ass orchestra for rockin’ out to all that 60s swing music!
Be sure to check out “Catch Me If You Can” at Whitby Courthouse Theatre before they all fly outta town! Feb 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 at the Whitby Centennial Building, 416 Centre Street South, Whitby. Visit http://www.whitbytheatre.org or call 905-668-8111 for info on tickets.