Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
From its first vibrant moments until its final "Goodbye," Oakton High School's production of Catch Me If You Can triumphed in every way, gliding between showy jazz and subtle noir with natural and captivating ease.
Catch Me If You Can (book by Terrence McNally, music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) is the musical adaptation of the 2002 film of the same name (starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio), which in turn was taken from the autobiography of Frank Abagnale, Jr. Frank ran away from home at the age of 16 and found his talents in blanking checks and impersonating different professions. The story follows the cat-and-mouse game between Frank and Carl Hanratty, the tired but determined FBI agent seeking to bring Frank to justice.
Frank Jr. (Jonathan Geerdes) was smooth in every aspect of his performance, from his buoyant charm as an actor to his superb and stylized dancing skills to his jaw-dropping vocal talent, with an impressive belt voice that allowed him to consistently tackle difficult notes. Whether posing as an pilot, doctor, or lawyer, Geerdes held the audience's attention with his energetic delivery and gorgeous sound, culminating in his stellar rendition of the challenging and emotional song "Goodbye." Geerdes maintained endearing connections with his fellow actors, notably Madison Shannon as Brenda Strong, the adorable nurse with whom Frank falls in love. Shannon was remarkable as Brenda, handling her comedic moments as well as her dramatic ones with professionalism and maturity, and the development of her relationship with Geerdes felt real, as captured in Brenda's beautiful and moving solo "Fly, Fly Away."
Joe Malone as Carl Hanratty was utterly engaging and humorous, succeeding in giving a nuanced and thoughtful performance. Malone did amazing work in crafting the character of Hanratty, including his slouched posture that conveyed Hanratty's age and a perfect accent for the part. Every moment that Malone used every moment he had onstage to build the narrative of his quest for order as well as the more subtle details of his personal life, and the sacrifices he made in the name of the law. The evolution of the dynamic between Malone and Geerdes felt genuine and touching, as the pair went from enemies with a mutual respect to practically father and son, and witty banter delivered between the two kept the musical alive.
Characters such as Frank Abagnale, Sr. (Joshua Lemons) and Brenda's parents (Carolyn Best and Liam Bloom) brought levity and interest to the show. Lemons displayed an appreciable understanding of his character with his vocal and physical gravitas, as well as his realistically-conveyed descent into drunkenness. Best and Bloom shined onstage, bringing personality and humor to the stage in spades. In fact, the whole cast collaborated to make the show fun, flashy, and fabulous.
The pit orchestra was phenomenal, navigating difficult and stylized pieces with unwavering professional ability.
The set of the show was incredibly effective, with staircases and balconies that were used to add levels and interest to every moment of the show.
Although there were indeed many successful technical aspects, the unbelievable lighting truly stole the show. Bright multi-colored lights, spotlights, lights located on the set, and the cyclorama all came together to add never-ending visual interest to the show. The use of shadows and silhouettes added an additional layer of depth, pulling the audience deeper into the world of the show.
Catch Me If You Can at Oakton High School is a resounding success on several fronts, one that must be experienced "Live in Living Color."
Westfield High School
Brought to you live in living color from Oakton High School comes the hunt for the man inside the clues. The search for the elusive Frank Abagnale Jr., or Frank Connors or Frank Williams, or is it William Frank was on at this riveting production of Catch Me if You Can.
The show is based on the well-known movie and book of the same name. The book for the musical was written by Terrence McNally and the score was written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The show premiered on Broadway in 2011, garnering four Tony nominations.
The show follows the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., young con artist extraordinaire, as he forges false identities for himself across the world. Meanwhile the intent detective Carl Hanratty is close on his heels. But when Frank gets tired of running, will his crimes catch up with him?
In the charismatic and dashing role of Frank Abagnale Jr. was Jonathan Geerders, who's suave demeanor and debonair vocals always showed Frank's unflappable charm. But underneath the polished front of a dashing rogue, Geerders brought out Frank's yearning for something real in his life through devastating emotion and touching songs. Joe Malone performed as the hardscrabble and slightly fanatic detective Carl Hanratty. Malone's use of overbearing physicalization, impeccable beat timing, and touch of comedic genius made Carl Hanratty a power on the stage. Through his impressive vocal talent, Malone brought out Hanratty's obsession over his work and his loneliness everywhere else. Both Carl and Frank played off each other well, building a touching relationship despite their rivalry, which culminated in their song "Stuck Together."
As the burned-out, world-weary Frank Abagnale Sr, Frank's father, was Joshua Lemons. Lemons played Frank's father's fall from prosperity poignantly with dejection as the once hailed "most popular businessman in all New Rochelle" descends to drunken obscurity. With powerful, deep vocals, Lemons brought out the father's unfailing optimism for his son in "Butter Outta Cream," his own devastating loss of his former life, and his enduring love for his wife Paula (Nicole Gaspari) in the poignant song "Don't be a Stranger." The sweet love interest of Frank Jr., Brenda Strong, was played with innocent adoration by Madison Shannon. With quiet, shy demeanor and an open, guileless manner Shannon's exquisite Brenda crept into not only Frank's heart but had the entire audience in love with her trusting charm. Shannon's heart-rending vocals in her solo "Fly, Fly Away" showed the depth of her love for Frank.
The technical elements of the show were on point, dramatic, and executed with perfect precision. Lighting, headed by Carter Lindley, was extravagantly used to enhance lush dance numbers. During "Fly, Fly Away" lighting was used to cast two haunting silhouettes of the singer. Props, headed by Megan Sheridan, were used cleverly and crafted with detail. An entire meal, complete with shrimp cocktail, was made for the Strong family dinner. Sound, headed by Jack Odell, Michael Kearley, and Dimitri Shatov, was clear and never cut out. The added use of sound effects, such as bullets falling or police sirens, added to the mood of the show.
The cast didn't just use their pinstripes to dazzle but created a hilarious yet heartwarming show that was dazzling through to its core. Oakton High School presented a million-dollar performance full of innocence and humor, that was definitely no forgery, in their superb production of Catch Me if You Can.