I don’t normally review high school theater productions. It doesn’t seem fair to judge them by the same set of rules that apply to professional, or even community theater.
Catch Me If You Can, currently being presented through February 29 by Crystal Lake South High School has given me reason to question that rule.
The great thing about being the one to make the rules, is I can change them as I see fit.
Catch Me If You Can is a Broadway musical based upon the 2002 film of the same name, which itself was based upon the 1980 autobiography of Frank Abagnale Jr.
The story follows Frank Abagnale Jr., an American teenager, who discovers a way to write bad checks to the tune of millions of dollars while he poses as a Pan Am pilot, a Georgia doctor, and a Louisiana attorney. All the while he is pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanratty.
Ricky Falbo plays Frank Abagnale Jr. with charm and panache. He makes singing and dancing seem effortless. If this is any indication of Falbo’s talents, we can expect him to go far in the industry.
One of the reasons it can be hard to judge high school theater by high standards is that the adult roles are being played by teenagers and most teenagers can’t pull off middle aged. That’s not the case for Ben Cisco who captures the posture, movement, and vocal intonations of Hanratty perfectly.
Cisco and Falbo are not the only shining stars in the musical. Kris Slimko shows off an impressive vocal range as Frank Abagnale Sr. – who deteriorates from loving husband to discarded has been over the course of the play.
The play is a fun interpretation of the true-life story of Abagnale Jr. Falbo and Cisco lead the company through a comically excellent and musically brilliant journey that will have you on your feet for a standing ovation by the end of the performance.
At one point while Abagnale Jr. is posing as an ER doctor, he falls in love with a young nurse named Brenda Strong. It will turn out to be his undoing, because being tied down to a fiancé doesn’t allow Abagnale the freedom to evade the FBI by changing identity and moving from state to state.
Brenda is well played by Gabrielle Urbina, and her mother is played with equal likability by Grace Adcock.
Overall the large ensemble is very entertaining. Kudos to director Ben Stoner and choreographer Kristen Downing for making creative use of the large performance space they have, ferrying large groups of chorus members in and out seamlessly.
Music director Stuart Buthod has voices and instruments well-tuned. Conductor Cody Halberstadt leads an incredible student orchestra that could rival most professional pits.
Set design by Mark Gardner is simple, yet effective. Annette Dumas outdoes herself as costumer. She had to costume a cast of almost 50 students, most of them with more than one outfit. She deserves an award.
You have one more weekend to take in Catch Me If You Can. The musical plays Friday February 28 at 7 PM and Saturday February 29 at 1 PM and 7 PM at the Crystal Lake South High School Theater (1200 S, McHenry Ave, Crystal Lake, IL 60014). For ticket information go online to https://cls.d155.org/. If you go to that website and scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see the Catch Me If You Can logo to click on for ticket information.
Take it from me, the show is a hit. Do yourself a favor and catch it while you can.
Peace. Love. Trust.
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