It was a smash hit on the silver screen in 2002 and it’s sure to entertain in 2018 as St. Michaels University School theatre students bring the real-life, conniving tale of Frank Abagnale Jr. to stage.
The Catch Me If You Can cast of 53 students have been rehearsing since September. The show runs March 1 to 3 at the McPherson Playhouse.
Abagnale Jr. captured the American imagination in a 1980 biography that detailed how, as a teenager, he cashed hundreds of phony cheques. To continue the scam and evade justice, Abagnale became increasingly creative. He posed as Pan Am pilot to earn banker trust when cashing cheques, and it led to traveling free on flights around the world. Born in 1948, he was caught at 21 and served time in jail before rehabilitating and working with the FBI on fraud detection. He also started his own security company and has written subsequent books on security.
The musical is based on the movie, a cat-and-mouse chase by an FBI agent (Tom Hanks) and the world-beating young con artist (Leonardo di Caprio). It hit Broadway in 2011 and more of a look at Abagnale Jr.’s life through his own point of view, compared to the movie, said Grade 10 actor Mark Finamore, who shares the lead role with Will Barry (they’ll split performances).
“It’s a dreamscape that follows his life and the emotions in what he feels,” Finamore said.
The plot is set off when Abagnale Jr. discovers his mother Paula’s infidelity, catching her with his father’s co-worker.
“In the beginning I’m learning from my dad but by the end, it flips, and he’s learning from me,” Finamore said.
For Maddi Tolmie (Grade 12), who is splitting the lead role of Paula with Orla McElroy (Grade 12), the moment Abagnale Jr. confronts her extramarital relationship is the most challenging of her role.
“It’s a fun role but you have to hit that emotion,” Tolmie said. “This is the reason he runs away, he runs on his mother.”
In addition to the cast of 53 are 33 students in the pit orchestra and 37 dedicated to backstage duties. Dozens more helped with everything from set painting to prop building.
Catch Me If You Can is showing nightly from March 1 to 3 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on March 3 at 2 p.m. at the McPherson Playhouse.