Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Catch Me if You Can Is Haggis In this Scenario

I am a little behind with blog posts due to the hurricane/tropical storm mishegoss.  MB and her trusty sidekick Claudia are all fine (although apparently I have begun to refer to myself in the third person) and weathered the storm upstate where of course it turned out to be worse than things were in Brooklyn.


Anyhoo...I went to see Catch Me if You Can last week before its September 4th closing.  I had low expectations.  I never saw the movie (hate Tom Hanks) .  I had heard the show was boring.  Besides some folks waxing poetic about Aaron Tveit's thighs and Norbert Leo Butz being Norbet Leo Butz (and never having seen him on stage before--for shame) I expected it to be a pretty disappointing evening.  But it was closing, and they were offering this backstage tour thing...so I thought I might as well go.

I didn't win the backstage tour with Aaron Tveit.  Though my friend's friend did!  She exclaimed "Hot damn!" when her name was called much to Aaron Tveit's amusement as he was selecting the winners.

Full disclosure:  My friend was able to put my name on the stage door list...so I got to go backstage after the show which was a first for me.  Not for nothing, passing by everyone waiting for autographs and going in the stage door made me fell ultra-glam and powerful.  Like I could part the Red Sea or something (I really need to get out more).  I might have done nothing backstage except stand around on the stage...but hell, I've never done that before.  Chatted with the cast member who allowed us access and got to check that off the imaginary bucket list I have never written. 

As for the show...I actually really enjoyed the show.  No one was more surprised than I was!  What the hell is wrong with me?  Did I drink some sort of Kool-Aid pre-show?  Did Starbucks put a happy pill in my iced tea?  Have I lost my mind?  Did Aaron Tveit put a spell over me?  I have no answers. 

I have always liked con men stories.   I am fascinated about why con men do what they do.  Years ago I tried to get Miramax to buy a real life con man story to turn into a movie (they didn't bite).  And I think what was satisfying to me about the show was that they wanted to explain the motivation behind the characters actions and I liked the reason they offered.  I found the storyline about fathers and sons really moving and I found the music helped establish the emotional resonance of that story.  I enjoyed the performances of Aaron Tveit, Norbert Leo Butz and Tom Wopat.  I liked the dynamic established by those three characters and I like what each actor did with the role.  I found most of the female characters underwritten.  I could have done without the entire medical subplot...and frankly probably the second act as a whole....but oddly enough I didn't mind sitting through it at the time.

I was dreading what had been described as a "jazzy" score but found the music suited the story and often communicated the emotions I was interested in.  Considering the 60's nostalgia writ large these days with Mad Men I am surprised that the show has not been able to capitalize on that.  Maybe a show without a big Hollywood name, with new music just isn't something tourist audiences will take a risk on.  But it had all the trappings of a palatable mainstream musical (although really weak in the love story department).  I guess I did not leave the show humming any tunes (not that I ever do really) but in the moment they worked for the characters and the story (again except for the second act).

How can I like a show and yet feel like the second act was useless and unnecessary.  I guess because I was willing to go with the actors in the characters they created.  I think the father/son stuff really got to me and I guess once I was on board for that I was willing to go where the show took me.  The second act was weaker, in my estimation, because they were quickly trying to set up a love interest (after an hour and a half without one), love interest backstory, and squeeze in another layer of his con man antics.  I wish there was a better love story.  In the end I thought it was unnecessary because the real "love" story was the father/son story (whether real or surrogate father). 

I didn't have a problem with the "show within a show" conceit.  Didn't think it was necessary but didn't think it was problematic. 

Of course the best part of the show I saw was a blooper in the final number.  Norbert ripped off his tie and accidentally whipped Aaron Tveit in the face with it.  It thwacked AT right by his hairline mic so it made a LOUD noise.  It sounded a lot worse than I imagine it felt but it nearly caused the two of them to fall apart with laughter.  They kept going but were cracking up the whole time.  They genuinely seemed to be having a great time working with each other and it was a bittersweet moment knowing the show only has a week of life left.

I guess this show taught me that I should check out shows that I might otherwise not...I should stop being so judgey.  Maybe I will like it.  I mean once I tried it I actually liked haggis.  Wow, does my liking haggis undermine everything I have ever said here.  Probably.  Is Catch Me if You Can haggis in this scenario?...Maybe. 

Don't knock it until you try it.  Lesson learned.


  1. I'm just excited that Aaron and Norbert get to move on to what I hope are better projects.

    What did you think of the costumes?

  2. I've never been backstage before, so I'm envious on that front. Aside from the back stage-ness, I had the exact same experience with the show (and, oddly enough, haggis as well). I had no expectations whatsoever and wound up really enjoying myself. Glad you were able to see if before it closed.

  3. Mel I was not a fan of the "sexy" nurse costumes but was on board with everything else. Nothing bothered me. I was disappointed in the set. When I heard it was David Rockwell...I don't know...I expected something more than a white staircase.

    Katie so glad you were into it too. I guess I had heard such bad things I was not thinking I would enjoy it so much.