Catch Me If You Can
at McLean High School

Reviewed on April 26, 2014

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Washington Post - Fairfax
Walt Whitman High School
Washington Post - Fairfax
Falls Church HS
Falls Church HS - ARL/MC/Mont/DC
Hayfield Secondary School
Falls Church News Press
Woodrow Wilson High School
Robinson Secondary School
Fairfax County Times

Jordan Goodson
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Submitted for publication to Washington Post - Fairfax

With sequined showgirls, dancing FBI agents, and dollar bills raining from the sky, McLean High School had no problem catching the audience's attention in their dazzling production of Catch Me If You Can.

Catch Me If You Can, created by Terrence McNally, Marc Shaiman, and Scott Wittman, is based on the film of the same name, which itself was based on the biography of real-life reformed con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. A fairly recent musical, Catch Me If You Can premiered on Broadway in April of 2011, running for 170 performances and garnering four Tony nominations. The story follows Frank as he runs away from home at age sixteen, beginning a lonely life of fraud and frivolousness. While being doggedly pursued by the FBI, he poses as a pilot and a doctor before falling in love—the mistake that ultimately leads to his downfall.

As Frank, Alex Stone shone: with powerful vocals and stylized movements, Stone captured the glossy persona of a conman with ease in songs such as "Live in Living Color." By the end of the show, however, Stone allowed his polished façade to fittingly crack, letting the audience catch a glimpse of the scared boy hiding beneath the glitz and glamour. Jack Posey—as Carl Hanratty, the hardheaded FBI agent hot on Frank's tail—provided a perfect counterpoint to Stone's slick and savvy Frank. Posey's stern demeanor and comedic flair worked well both against Stone's easygoing attitude and with Hanratty's troupe of buffoonish backup agents, highlighted in the show-stopping number "Don't Break the Rules." The actors let the fierce enmity between Frank and Carl soften into a grudging camaraderie as the show progressed, lending both their characters and the show a more human element.

The ladies of the show were equally as formidable as the leading men. As Brenda, Frank's sweet and innocent love interest, Lily Lord displayed a striking and evocative voice, bringing many in the audience to tears with the heartfelt number "Fly, Fly Away." Nicole Sheehan (as Frank's mother, Paula) also demonstrated vocal prowess, and Nancy Pruett (as Brenda's mother, Carol) commanded attention with her hilariously larger-than-life stage presence. The female ensemble of the show had a difficult job to do, flipping from stewardesses to nurses to more in the blink of an eye. They handled the breakneck pace and frequent transformations admirably, remaining fully committed and energetic in songs such as "Jet Set" and "Doctor's Orders."

The production's stunning technical elements heightened its professional feel. The gorgeous set comprised of multiple levels with a blue-green color scheme, the many moving parts and trap doors adding to the show's intrinsic sense of fun. The choreography (created by student Marielle Burt) was delightfully intricate, appropriately emulating the Rockettes in style. Finally, the costumes were remarkable: every character went through countless costume changes, with each one—be it a pilot's uniform, doctor's outfit, etc.—true to the time period and aesthetically pleasing.

Modern musicals can be tricky for high schools to pull off, as they lack the comforting familiarity of the oft-used staples. With Catch Me If You Can, McLean tackled that challenge head-on and conquered it soundly (and then threw some confetti on top for good measure). The show was filled with thrills and laughs—proving that even when faced with the most difficult shows, all a high school needs is energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to be a success.

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Talia Brenner
Walt Whitman High School

Submitted for publication to Washington Post - Fairfax

The swaggering, swindling con man is not a new motif to musical theatre, but McLean High School's production of Catch Me If You Can—the DC Area premiere—was gleaming, spunky, and as fearless as its lovably fraudulent lead.

Based on Steven Spielberg's 2002 hit film, the musical adaptation of Catch Me If You Can opened on Broadway in 2011 starring Aaron Tveit as con artist Frank Abagnale Jr., and Norbert Leo Butz as Carl Hanratty, the workaholic FBI agent bent on Abagnale's arrest. The real Frank Abagnale, whose autobiographical account inspired both works, said that although he loved the movie, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's musical was "surreal" and completely "blew [him] away."

It's 1969 and a team of special agents have finally apprehended infamous scam artist Frank Abagnale (Alex Stone) in a Miami airport. Realizing he can't dodge arrest, Abagnale begins to spin the tale of his many escapades, revealing how he stole millions by passing bad checks and wormed his way into high-status careers: Pan-Am pilot, medical supervisor, and state-certified attorney. Stone's vocals were tremendous and his comedic timing spot-on, but his true success was making the wheedling Abagnale—a "bad guy" on all counts—a thoroughly lovable character. Jack Posey was equally electrifying as straight-laced detective Hanratty, playing a tight-lipped conservative while simultaneously rocking bluesy rhythms in the fabulously dichotomous "Don't Break the Rules." In an unplanned test of comic chops, Posey recovered from a prop issue with his gun by hilariously pulling a finger-gun.

As Abagnale "tap dances through his life," he deals with a colorful selection of supporting and featured characters, from his unhappily married parents (Matt Lucero and Nicole Sheehan) to his romantic interest, wide-eyed nurse Brenda Strong (Lily Lord). A particularly humorous scene occurred when Abagnale meets Brenda's outrageously Southern parents: Will Stockton (Roger Strong) played a stereotypically overprotective father, while Nancy Pruett (Carol Strong) sent the audience rolling as Brenda's bodacious, flirtatious mother. Among a cast of skilled singers, Sheehan and Lord stood out as exceptional vocalists; Sheehan's "Don't Be a Stranger" was wistful and tragic, while Lord truly soared in the momentous "Fly, Fly Away." McLean's production also sported a talented female dance ensemble whose high-kicking choreography (student Marielle Burt) conjured a retro Rockettes-like feel. Not to be buried under government red tape, an ensemble of trigger-happy FBI agents (Thomas Kelty, Marshall Downing, and Christophe Jelinski) exhibited impeccable comedic timing and hilarious individual quirks.

Student-designed technical elements maintained Golden-Age flash, but with a tasteful eye. An elaborate two-story set featured colored accents in the show's characteristic turquoise and royal blue. Isabel Zapata's ingenious projections made outstanding use of three circular scrims that sat behind the second story, and a student sound crew masterfully handled a massive number of wireless microphones and a live orchestra. Emily Robinson's costume design included classic silhouettes and splashes of ‘60s mod.
Garnering both guffaws and "awws" from the audience, McLean's buoyant production was a spectacular showcase of students' talents. From its riveting take-off to momentous landing, Catch Me If You Can was a wild, exuberant ride.

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Samantha Greene
Falls Church HS

Submitted for publication to

Light, music, and dancers decked out in wildly glinting sequins flood the stage. It's time for a show, and according to con man extraordinaire Frank Abagnale Junior, it's going to be the greatest show on earth. McLean High School's recent production of Catch Me if You Can was hilarious, truthful and thoroughly deserving of the uproarious standing ovation it received.

The musical version of Catch Me if You Can is based on both the 2002 film of the same name and Abagnale's autobiography. The show premiered on Broadway in 2011 and received 4 Tony nominations, winning one for Norbert Leo Butz's performance as FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. Set in the 1960s, Catch Me if You Can centers around young con artist Frank Abagnale Junior, who has cheated his way through life by impersonating everything from a PanAm pilot to doctor and a lawyer and cashing almost two million dollars in bad checks. He's spent two years cleverly evading capture by the FBI, specifically Carl Hanratty, a weathered agent with a deeply ingrained affinity for justice. The musical begins with Frank's capture in an airport terminal, where he tells Hanratty his entire life story complete with flashy dancers and upbeat musical numbers.

The performance's unbelievable excellence, while assisted by the talented, energetic vocal and dance ensembles, can be primarily attributed to the show's leading men—Frank Abagnale Jr. (Alex Stone) and Carl Hanratty (Jack Posey). Their brilliant cat-and-mouse chemistry mesmerized the audience through every second of the story, and their vocals were both on-pitch and powerful. Stone wonderfully portrayed his charming, clever character with every emphatic eyebrow raise and cocky smirk. Cathartic ending number "Good-Bye" showed Stone's incredible believability as he let his tough exterior fall way to reveal the shattered little boy beneath with his stunning voice and facial expressions that expertly depicted his excitement at being able to finally stop running and leave the past behind. Gifted performer Jack Posey (Carl Hanratty) used his rich, clear voice and superior physicality to display an aged FBI Agent with a special place in his heart for rules. His no-nonsense sense of leadership was apparent in his interactions with lesser Agents Branton, Cod, and Dollar (Thomas Kelty, Marshall Downing and Christophe Jelinski), and he provided a stable feel to an otherwise wacky show.

Other notable performers include Lily Lord (Brenda Strong), who portrayed an ordinary, down-to-earth girl realistically and had excellent chemistry with Frank, her character's love interest, and Nancy Pruett (Carol Strong), who hilariously played Brenda's extroverted and embarrassing mother. Hanratty's second in command agents, Branton, Cod, and Dollar were funny and gave it their all with humorous quips and chuckle-worthy physicality.

The costumes, from rainbow sequined dresses to stewardess and nurse uniforms, were period and impressively made. The set was gorgeous, with little touches like trap doors, futons that doubled as walls, and brightly colored stairs that made the period and show come to life.

Overall, McLean's performance of Catch Me if You Can was phenomenally done, from the ensemble to the leads to the technical aspects. You'll definitely want to catch this show if you can, and if you do you'll be in for a wild ride, and the greatest show on earth.

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Zachary Goldblatt
Falls Church HS

Submitted for publication to - ARL/MC/Mont/DC

Fans of Mad Men who couldn't wait for their Sunday night supplement got a fix from the Don Draper-like con man in McLean High School's production of Catch Me If You Can. Originally, Catch Me If You Can was Frank Abagnale Jr.'s biography. It was transformed into a movie in 2002, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. In 2011, a Broadway musical was created and ran for six months. Catch Me If You Can was nominated for four Tony Awards and won one for Best Actor.

The show follows the story of the young con man Frank Abagnale Jr. (Alex Stone) beginning with his arrest in Miami International Airport by FBI Agent Hanratty (Jack Posey), and later reveals the back-story of Frank. After Frank's parents split, Frank runs away from home and starts his conning days by forging checks. He develops a skill for pretending to be what he is not, and uses his chameleon-like ability to pose as a lawyer, doctor, and a PanAm pilot before getting caught by an FBI agent who pursues him with a Javert-like doggedness.

Some very talented actors brought this show to life. Alex Stone's portrayal of Frank was spot on; it was packed with amazing vocals, excellent physicality, and great improvisation. Jack Posey's character of FBI Agent Carl Hanratty was superb; his comedic timing stole the show. He performed the night's most memorable song with "Don't Break the Rules". It showcased not only his mature vocals but also the energetic choreography of Marielle Burt. Another charismatic actress was Frank's love interest Brenda Strong (Lily Lord); her song "Fly, Fly Away" brought a more romantic mood to the show. The Jet Set girls ensemble, with their costumes, vocals and dancing, added a jazzy extravagance to the show, in the mode of classic Broadway musicals. The FBI Agents injected the perfect dose of comedy to each scene. Unfortunately, during some of the numbers the orchestra made it hard to hear some of the lyrics.

From a technical standpoint the show was incredible. The set was stunning (design by Marielle Burt, construction by Ben French). Built with multiple stories, it could function as an airport, a house, a doctor's office and much more. The set design included trap doors and hollowed-out lockers that enabled actors to pop out and give the stage another dimension. The costumes of the Jet Set girls were brilliant (costume heads Miranda Creason, Gillian Wright and Emily Robinson); they had lightning-fast costume changes that enabled them to morph from dazzling sequined dresses to nurses' outfits in the blink of an eye. There were some technical problems, such as malfunctions with the microphones that at one time made it impossible to hear an actor onstage. Also, even though the special effects were eye-popping, they were sometimes so extravagant that it drew attention away from the actors. These were minor problems, though; technically, this performance was second to none.

Mclean High School's production of Catch Me If You Can was a visual and vocal masterpiece that made it hard to believe it was a high school production. It would have made Broadway proud!

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Yvonne Nguyen
Hayfield Secondary School

Submitted for publication to Falls Church News Press

Caught in a sticky situation? Not to worry, there is always a lie that can be told, an employee that can be bribed, or a check that can be forged-- at least for teenage swindler Frank Abagnale Jr. there is. In McLean High School's production of Catch Me If You Can, young master of deceit, Frank Abagnale Jr. recounts his adventures as an international con man.

Set in the 1960s, Abagnale depicts his imposturous life as one of the world's youngest and most skilled con artists. Starting with his adolescent life, and leading up to his eventual arrest, Abagnale narrates how he posed as a PanAm pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer-- all while cheating the government out of millions of dollars.

Written by Terrance McNally, Marc Shaiman, and Scott Wittman, Catch Me If You Can opened on Broadway in 2011, and was nominated for four Tony Awards. It was also portrayed as a 2002 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. The original plot however, was based on a true story, of which the real Frank Abagnale wrote an autobiography in 1980.

Alex Stone was featured as Frank Abagnale Jr. Stone's charismatic facial expressions, and relaxed demeanor showed he was clearly comfortable on the stage. Despite rarely leaving the stage, Stone's energy never waned, lasting through countless dance numbers, monologues, and solos. Stone brought out the complexity and character development of Abagnale's character, demonstrating his deep understanding of the plot. Featuring a strong set of vocals, with seemingly perfect pitch and diction, Stone's voice was one of the best seen on a high school stage all season.

Carl Hanratty portrayed by Jack Posey, was also quite inspired. Posey's voice kept up nicely with Stone's and he shined in "Don't Break the Rules". Posey's character choices were a nice contrast to Stone's. Posey's earnest delivery of Carl Hanratty, as well as his seamless comedic timing made him a memorable presence on stage.

The ensemble of the show added to the overall excitement and energy protruding from the stage. Many of the ensemble members were even able to hold their own as soloists. With smart choreography, complex harmonies, and tons of well made costumes, the ensemble members made sure there was always something to look at--without distracting from the main actors.

The retro 1960s style set was designed very intelligently, featuring a color palate of blues, mint greens, and silvers. The set was dressed very well with retro furniture and props. Despite being very appealing to the eye, the set was also highly functional, allowing couches to turn into walls.

The special effects used in the show added to the aura of excitement in the auditorium. Using cleverly designed projections, confetti cannons, and smoke machines, this production was packed full of surprises.

McLean's costume department proved they were ambitious, providing more than 10 costumes for some of the actors. Each costume was not only well made, but fit the time period as well. Another impressive note was how the costumes matched nicely with the set.

McLean's production of Catch Me If You Can was jam packed with talent, excitement, and emotion. The actors were not only impeccable, but the technical elements of the show were well above high school standard.

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Ben Topa
Woodrow Wilson High School

Submitted for publication to Connection

With the confetti explosion at the end of the very first number, the audience of McLean High School's performance of Catch Me If You Can knew it was in for a treat. Catch Me If You Can is a musical comedy about a young man, Frank Abagnale, Jr., who embarks on a life of fraud, using his skill in forging checks to get rich and take on various identities, from a substitute teacher to an airline pilot. Eventually, he falls in love, however, and decides to change his ways—just before FBI Agent Carl Hanratty finally catches him. Huge, modern numbers, as well as some slower, reflective songs, punctuate the story. Catch Me If You Can, with a book by Terrence McNally and music by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, is based on the story of the real Frank Abagnale, Jr. and is a fun, energetic production. It ran on Broadway in 2011, and earned four Tony nominations (with one win).

The performance was great all around, and show-stopping leads highlighted McLean's cast. In the role of Frank Abagnale Jr., Alex Stone showed off professional-sounding vocals, gliding between his low and high registers seamlessly. In songs like "Goodbye," he showcased his power, which filled the room. His acting was also remarkable, as he brought unmatched energy and commitment to character to the stage, as well as impressive comic skill. He made his character relatable and believable, eventually plucking the heartstrings of every audience member with his change of heart. Opposite Stone was Jack Posey in the role of Carl Hanratty, the dedicated FBI agent who eventually hunts down Frank Jr. As Hanratty, Posey showed off a smooth voice and great energy and presence. Posey proved his well-roundedness as the leader of "Don't Break the Rules," one of the show's most dazzling numbers, as he passionately bolted across the stage against the backdrop of his hilarious FBI colleagues. Stone and Posey together were a dynamite duo, and showed off their great chemistry in scenes together and songs like "Strange But True."

While the show is really a two-man musical, other actors shone in featured roles. Lily Lord, as Brenda Strong (Frank Jr.'s fiancée), showcased beautiful vocals in "Fly, Fly Away." The Strong family, including Brenda's parents, Carol and Roger Strong (played by Nancy Pruett and Will Stockton, respectively) provided a hilarious scene as Frank, Jr. was introduced to the family, with Pruett and Stockton showing witty physicality and timing. As the three supporting FBI Agents, Thomas Kelty, Marshall Downing, and Christophe Jelinski showed great chemistry, providing comic relief with Posey.

The show's ensembles were all energetic and fun to watch as dancers handled complex dances skillfully. Marielle Burt's ambitious, imaginative choreography was tricky, but when there were hiccups, dancers regained synchrony and the audience seldom noticed mistakes. The vocal ensemble mostly held tight harmonies together, giving even softer numbers like "My Favorite Time of Year" strong power.

While onstage contributions were remarkable, behind-the-scenes work was equally commendable; the set was particularly impressive, as students built their own extension onto the existing stage, and made it a multi-level complex.

McLean's presentation of Catch Me If You Can certainly caught the eye of every audience member, and for all the right reasons.

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Anna Barr
Robinson Secondary School

Submitted for publication to Fairfax County Times

Thousands of dollars fly over the audience's head. Flight attendants climb out of the stage. A saxophone wails as detectives dance, and a con-man with an easy coolness and a sly smile gets away again – this was the scene at Catch Me If You Can, performed by McLean High School. Though it's quite an ambitious show, McLean nailed it for a brash and entertaining night at the theatre.

Catch Me If You Can is a slick, jazzy musical that opened in 2011, based on the 2002 film of the same name, which in turn was based on Frank Abagnale's 1980 autobiography. The original Broadway production starred Aaron Tveit and Nobert Leo Butz, and ran for 6 months at the Neil Simon theatre. It tells the story of Frank Abagnale Jr., and his turn as a notorious con man in the 1960s who cashed over $2 mil in faked checks before he was 20 years old, having impersonated a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. The book was written by Terrance McNally, music by Marc Shaiman, and Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shainman.

In the role of Frank Abagnale Jr was Alex Stone, with all of the charisma of his character – with a killer voice and a killer smirk, Stone commanded the stage and the score with ease. Jack Posey played Carl Hanratty, the stern but loveable FBI Agent on Frank's trail, with fantastic confidence and energy that matched his smooth crooning sound in numbers like "Don't Break the Rules". Other stand outs were Lily Lord as Brenda Strong, and Matt Lucero and Nicole Sheehan as Mr. and Mrs. Abagnale, respectively. Lord's lovely and lofty voice soared, while Lucero and Sheehan both brought gravity and comedy to the table in fair measure. The entire ensemble was characterized by commitment, color, and volume – choreography by Marielle Burt was exiting and energetic to match the impressive vocals and harmonies they fit.

The technical aspects of the show were nearly professional quality. A clean, sharp, and cleverly used set designed by Marrille Burt and built by Ben French dominated the stage, covered in bright white Plexiglas that made the whole feel very modern. The most remarkable part, however, were the three life-size rings that made up the top level – vertical white hoops that could be lit in a multitude of color by Tristan Froats and Emily Pruyn's vibrant lighting design. Projections by Isabel Zapata and Leo Grandinetti would play in some scenes on the back curtain of the rings, bringing a new dimension to the stage that was appropriately and interestingly used. Flamboyant make-up and varied hairstyles (by Carla Calderon, Emily Robinson, and Sydney Studds) fit the extraordinary costumes by Miranda Creason, Gillian Wright, and Emily Robinson, which were so impossibly detailed, numerous, and stylish. Props by Camille Calderon were period and effective.

In a regional premier, McLean High School's production of Catch Me If You Can was worth catching – just as bold, smooth, and charming as Frank Abegnale Jr. himself.

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