San Diego Musical Theatre's Production of Catch Me If You Can Reflects a Titanic Team Effort For Audiences to Enjoy

Currently Playing Until March 13th in Kearny Mesa 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

The cast of Catch Me If You Can. Photo Credit Ken Jacques

When talking about Catch Me If You Can, I believe the immediate reference that comes to mind is obviously the motion picture with Leonardo DiCaprio and for the theatre connoisseurs, the award-winning Broadway musical with Aaron Tveit. Based on the true story in the 1960s of Frank Abagnale Jr. who passed over 2 million dollars in fake checks as a minor between the ages of 16 and 20, while passing for a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer.

This musical with book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick is an ambitious project being that it has a big ensemble and various set scenes. SDMT (San Diego Musical Theatre) resolved the task well in their new space located in Keany Mesa. Mathys Herbert's set design along with Michelle Miles's lighting design maximized every inch of the reduced stage space and cleverly delivered cool scene sets. 

Beau Brians as Frank Abagnale Jr. is definitely a match with an amazing charm, stage presence, and dimples for days. Some of the longer musical notes were not as strong but he still managed to hold them nicely. Most of the musical numbers with Brians and the ensemble are high-paced ones and the company performed in a competent manner. A gorgeous ensemble with rising talent, some are members of the SDMT acting camps. You can see the hard work by the hands of director Allison Spratt Pearce and choreographer Xavier J. Bush.

This definitely brings a light of hope to see a regional theatre company training new talent and incorporating them in their productions. Talent that is a triple, quadruple threat! they can sing, dance, act, write, it is just wonderful.

Catch Me If You Can at SDMT. Photo Credit Ken Jacques

The costume changes are also a task because there are so many of them! Janet Pitcher delivered as well with each of the designs from the Pan Am flight attendants all the way to the nurses in the hospital. Another detail that I appreciated with the costume design, especially the skimpy outfits of the flight attendants and nurses, was the care with undergarments in case of a wardrobe malfunction. 

Adelaida Martínez as the love-struck girlfriend Brenda Strong is definitely a star in the making with her wonderful voice, tenderness, and range.  Berto Fernández as FBI agent Carl Hanratty is an absolute delight and definitely owns the stage with every line. The dynamic between his agents Branton (Joey Guerra), Cod (Sutheshna Mani), and Dollar (Dennis Peters) is a joy to watch having a balance between a seasoned actor and debuting actors. Frank's parents Paula (Andrea Petsinger) and Frank Sr. (Paul Morgavo) also pull in their weight. Morgavo's performance as the alcoholic, scam king, is multilayered. He gives the outside part with the pose, the swag, and "verbo" which is slang in Spanish for knowing how to use your words right to get your way. But there is a deeper layer where you see a man struggling with addiction and although loving his kid, unable to be good and better. Petsinger as Paula Abagnale aside from gifting the audience with a cute french accent also comes through with subtle yet masterful dance moves.
Andrea Petsinger and Paul Morgavo. Photo Credit Ken Jacques

It probably was a big challenge for SDMT having to leave the theatre space in Downtown San Diego and moving northeast. Bravo for this production that reflects a titanic team effort for audiences to enjoy. I did have the opportunity to see the Broadway touring production years back and the production value is pretty close and with tickets that range from $45 to $75 dollars. Another added value is that they have a campaign that gives back to the community called "You Give. We Give" where they give back to the community by selecting another non-profit organization and sharing the donations they collect at the theatre. 

Catch me... is undoubtedly an entertaining piece. We also see a teenager not being tended to by his parents, hence the sad route he chooses. Even though in real life, Abagnale ended up working with the FBI after serving around 5ish years spread out in different prisons, you would think it is kind of a happy ending yet, during these Inventing Anna times where we are "celebrity-fying" criminals, the fact that we unconsciously enjoy it gets a bit confusing. Yes, there is also Al Capone, Bonnie, and Clyde, and so on... maybe this can be a starting point for going in deeper and consider producing different, more diverse stories that shine a light on real heroes that are worthy of "celibrity-fying".

Catch Me If You Can is currently playing until March 13.

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