Catch Me If You Can (musical) - Reception


The Broadway production received mixed reviews. The most positive review came from Michael Giltz of the Huffington Post: "Catch Me If You Can is a sheer delight from the poignant and brilliant book by Terrence McNally to the sexy but character-driven choreography by Jerry Mitchell to the perfect sets by David Rockwell to the spot-on costumes by William Ivey Long to Kenneth Posner's marvelous lighting. It's all tied together by the superlative direction of Jack O'Brien which is seamless in weaving together drama, comedy, dance, acting, genuine scenes of pathos and casual banter with the audience and orchestra."

Ben Brantley of the New York Times wrote, "With “Hairspray” Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Wittman lucratively mined another vein of the 1960s — Motown-style pop — so taking on “Catch Me” seemed a natural. But this time they’re doing pastiches of music from television variety shows — of both the Mitch Miller and Dean Martin kinds — a form that is dangerously close to lounge and elevator music. 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."

Thorm Geier of Entertainment Weekly gave the show a "B-" and said, "Part of the problem with Catch Me If You Can is Terrence McNally's book, which is oddly paced and curiously structured. When Abagnale is arrested by the feds in the opening scene, he takes the opportunity to tell his own story from the beginning in the style of a '60s TV show. Why a TV show and not a Broadway play? I have no idea. Perhaps composer Marc Shaiman is just accustomed to the idiom since '60s TV factored so largely in his Tony-winning hit Hairspray. Shaiman has also conceived the music as a pastiche of early '60s musical styles, all of them curiously pre-rock. Unfortunately, this makes the score seem even more old-fashioned than some of the musicals genuinely from that era (like the current hit revival How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying). Under the direction of Jack O'Brien, though, Catch Me If You Can moves mostly in fits and starts. But the creators of Catch Me If You Can have rigged the game against them. What should have been a fun lark of a story seems almost stodgy, like your grandmother's idea of a good time."

In Steven Suskin's review of the show in Variety, he wrote, "Tuner has fine credentials, with the lead producer, songwriters, director, choreographer, designers and two featured actresses from the 2002 megahit "Hairspray" returning to the Neil Simon. "Catch" shares the time period with the former hit as well, but the high quotient of irrepressibly sly fun is missing. Noticeably absent is the typical creative inventiveness of director Jack O'Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. The score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman is more ambitious than their work on "Hairspray," but they are hamstrung by all those production numbers for sexy stewardesses and sexy nurses. Newcomer to the writing team is librettist Terrence McNally, with reportedly extensive ghostwriting by Brian Yorkey ("Next to Normal"). The problem, though, doesn't seem to be the book but the source material. If there is a musical to be made from this tale of a bumbling FBI agent chasing a naively innocent charmer, the creators haven't found it."

Elysa Gardner of USA Today said, "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 musical is structured so that we see our mischievous finagler crafting his own story, introducing some numbers and then literally trying to sing and dance his way out of trouble. It's a canny conceit, but one that only emphasizes the character's disingenuousness. There are other elegant and frisky flourishes, from William Ivey Long's eye-candy costumes to Jerry Mitchell's vampish choreography — both of which draw attention to the leggy, voluptuous figures in the female ensemble. Still, in failing to deliver a youthful protagonist you can really cheer for, this Catch Me If You Can may leave you feeling a bit cheated."

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