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Miranda Musical Theatre Company: Catch Me If You Can - Review by Jack Maidment

Updated: Apr 12

If you have any fond memories of the 2002 Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks film, need something to do over this coming weekend, or just want to see a fantastic show, then Miranda Musical Society’s production of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ will deliver in spades. Telling the semi-autobiographical story of legendary con man Frank Abagnale Jr. “live in living colour”, this musical is a joyous romp across the world as we watch how far people are willing to go in order to feel like they belong.

Tim Dennis and his assistant director, Amelie Downie’s, love for this show is evident the second you walk into the theatre and remains evident until you leave. An expansive set with cleverly designed moving parts and brilliant incorporation of projections create near-seamless transitions between scenes, and every actor looks completely at home on the stage, perfectly balancing the grandiosity of the story with the intimacy of the characters. If I were to have one quibble, I wish the catwalk that stood as the centerpiece of the set was used more in intimate scenes as it sometimes created a large blank space on stage. A musical is nothing without music, a fact that Musical Director Matthew Herne and his phenomenal orchestra decided to prove to everyone. Not only was it clear that Herne has worked hard to bring out the absolute best from this cast’s vocals, but the orchestra brought every scene of this show to life in an astounding way. Not a note was out of place, and despite a few minor tech issues with microphones, the music was perfectly balanced with the singers. And after having a peek into the pit at the end of the show, being able to conduct an orchestra of that size alongside such a cast is no small feat, and Herne should be commended for such fantastic work.

Speaking of fantastic work, choreographer Chris Bamford is like a mechanic, finely tuning this cast into something more akin to a sports car than an ensemble. Every number is beautifully choreographed, and you can tell Chris has placed a great amount of trust in his cast by providing them with technically complex material that each member just makes a meal out of. However, I do wonder if the complexity of every number overloaded some of the cast. A personal favorite was the number “Don’t Break the Rules,” which had me beaming from ear to ear with every leap, step, and turn. So many of the big numbers are brought to life by their presence, clad in wonderful costumes coordinated by Karen Moseley and her expansive costume team. Despite some issues with performers finding their light, especially early in the show, this production has pulled together an incredibly impressive feat of showmanship.

From the second Daniel Simpson takes the stage as Frank Abagnale Jr., I knew I was in for a treat. He oozes charisma in every scene but never steps too far into the realm of being lecherous. In a role that can only be described as a vocal marathon, Daniel performs in a way that makes it seem he’s barely breaking a sweat, with his voice sounding as fresh in the final moments of the show as it did in the opening number. Comprising the other half of our cat and mouse duo is Sam Anderson, as weathered FBI financial agent Carl Hanratty. It is evident that Sam has done the work with this character, and he brings an emotional depth to Hanratty that can so easily be lost within the humor of the show. Gladly, that depth doesn’t stop at his fantastic stage work. Sam’s tight vocals carry a wealth of emotion that made him an absolute pleasure to see and hear every time Hanratty grumbled his way onto the stage.

Central to Frank Jr’s journey of self-discovery are his loving, but flawed parents. Anthony Gibara sings like he has stepped right out of a 1920s jazz club, and his portrayal of Frank Sr. is equally smooth. He balances charm and tragedy in such a beautiful way and left me wanting more every time he hit the stage. However, if we want to talk about being left wanting more, Roslyn Howell is given the thankless job of bringing Paula Abagnale to life. Roslyn is a natural on the stage, clearly seen by her resume, and she brings a depth and life to the role of Paula that I don’t think even exists in the text.

It’s no secret that Catch Me If You Can as a show is a boys club, most of the principal cast are men, and many of the women are included to be leered at or ‘conquered’ by Frank as he jet-sets around the world. However, within this context Gianni-Mia Attrill-Dowling brings a warmth and exuberance to Frank Jr’s unassured but enamoured girlfriend Brenda Strong. The responsibility of carrying a large chunk of the emotional weight of Act 2 is not lost on Gianni-Mia, and she should be commended for bringing this role to life. Also appearing in Act 2 are Christopher Melotti and Leanne Trumper as Brenda’s rambunctious Lutheran parents, Carol and Roger Strong. These two bring some much-needed levity to the second half of Act 2 with well-timed comedy and a touching element of genuine love for their daughter.Rounding out this top-notch principal cast are Samuel Chapman, Jeff Maby, and Ellis Pinkerton as Hanratty’s bumbling but mostly good-natured FBI comrades. These three never failed to get a laugh out of me and built a believable relationship with each other and their beleaguered father figure of Hanratty.

It wouldn’t be right to go without mentioning the expansive ensemble within this show. Opening nights are never without fault and fixing up some minor issues with sound and actors finding their light would tighten up what is already a top-notch production. Ultimately, if you want to be treated to a fantastic show, you don’t have to look much further than Miranda Musical Society’s Catch Me If You Can. The production team and cast have pulled together a show that despite my issues with the material, I thoroughly enjoyed. The energy in the theatre was palpable, and the love that every member of this show has for the material is evident. Do yourself a favor and fly, fly away to get to see this show before it's finished! I give this show 4.5 Lives in Living Color out of 5.

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