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Review: Catch Me If You Can at Koorliny Arts Centre

Review by Hannah Fredriksson

Catch Me If You Can is the ultimate story of ‘faking it til you make it’ - or at least, until you get caught. Adapted from the movie of the same name - which in turn is adapted from Frank Abagnale Jr.’s autobiography - the musical follows the ‘true’ story of Frank’s escalating cons and forgeries as he jetsets across America and Europe evading FBI agent Carl Hanratty.

Full of swinging 60’s show tunes and a self-awareness of the glitz and glamour of live theatre, Koorliny Arts Centre’s production does a wonderful job at celebrating the fantasy of feeling like the world is eating out of the palm of your hand, while contrasting it against the sobreing reality of dealing with a broken family relationship. Frank Jr.’s wild adventures are underpinned by his futile desire to help his father win back his mother and restore their family dynamic, but instead he meets to his own downfall. At the end of the story he finds himself with a new friend in his captor Hanratty, who like him has no family of his own to spend Christmas with.

The cast as a whole had a wonderful energy. Joshua Firman plays Frank Abagnale Jr., bringing the charm and charisma required to be a convincing confidence man. He effortlessly portrays both the the youthful and mature sides of the character with a delicate balance of vulnerability and hubris. His soaring vocals ring with resounding clarity throughout the theatre and he commands the full attention of the audience, even in full cast numbers.

Chris Gerrish plays his adversary, FBI agent Carl Hanratty, successfully portraying his obsessive fixation with catching the conman. Chris and Joshua have a great rapport that shines once they stop being adversaries and embrace each others friendship, in a buddy number at the end titled ‘Stuck Together: (Strange But True)’.

Matilda Jenkins plays Frank Jr.’s love interest and downfall, candy-striper Brenda Strong. Her stunning vocals truly shine in her heartbroken solo ‘Fly, Fly Away’.

The costumes spanned a comprehensive array of glitzy 60’s dresses and stylised nurse and flight attendant uniforms. At times the costumes reflect a relationship between two characters. At the beginning of the show, Frank Jr. and Sr. are dressed alike in simple suits and ties, showing that their relationship began more closely aligned. As the show progressed their styles drift further and further apart, with Jr. in nice clothes reflecting his ill-earned wealth, and Sr. in attire to match his working-class job.

A similar matching occurs when Frank Jr. meets Brenda’s family. Carol Strong and Roger Strong wear outfits in matching yellow pastel tones to show their unity, and Frank Jr. and Brenda are wearing pink and red tones.

The entire performance was crisp and clear, from the audio levels being perfectly mixed allowing every word on the stage being neatly legible, to the rich lighting illuminating the set with a vibrant tint. The music was absolutely flawless under Musical Director Kate McIntosh’s leadership.

Director Katherine Freind has curated a perfectly executed production of Catch Me If You Can, with a high energy cast, excellent vocals and glitzy costumes. It’s a brilliant piece of community theatre that leaves you with a spring in your step. Catch it if you can!

Image Supplied


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