The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools.
The musical opens in the heart of 1960s America as young con man Frank Abagnale Jr (Ryan Borgo) is stopped at Miami Airport by chief FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Thomas Curry). Instead of running, he pleads with them to let him tell his story and explain how he had managed to get away with so many disguises. Frank promises to let them know all of his secrets, to which Hanratty agrees, in “Live in Living Color.”
The story starts at Frank’s childhood where Frank lived with his parents (Eric Finkelstein and Alaina Fritz). Frank Jr wears a school jacket to public school and is inspired to begin his life of disguises, and within days he is teaching French classes while the teacher is absent. After school, Frank gets home to see his mother with one of his father’s friends and is distraught. Although she begs him not to tell Frank Sr, they are later in court fighting over custody of him.
He decides to run away (“Someone Else’s Skin”) and learns to fend for himself. He was a doctor, a lawyer, a pilot, and many more from which he created fake checks, which he then cashes in banks all over the country. Frank Jr soon falls in love with Brenda Strong (Maria Jones) and is forced to tell the complete and total truth in order to take her hand in marriage.
West Allegheny’s production of “Catch Me If You Can,” proved that it takes hard work and dedication to achieve a sense of perfection. From the humor from Thomas Curry to the vocal strength of Ryan Borgo and Maria Jones, West Allegheny’s show was overall close to that. The choreography by Rudy Hazen was spectacular. The featured dancers, Mindy, Cindy, Lindy, Jane, Kellie, Shellie, Karrie, Terri, Sherrie, and Nellie, played multiple roles. Nurses, FBI Agents, “Pinstripe” girls, and “Butter outta Cream” showgirls brought a sweet and sexy emotional appeal to the stage.
Despite the slow scene changes and uncertainty of the settings, I had never seen such enthusiasm and energy on stage. Every single person showed emotionally and physically that they loved every single moment of it and didn’t want it to end. I definitely believe that West Allegheny gave this musical the justice that it deserved and portrayed it excellently. The direction was very accurate and organized which led to smooth scene shifts.
High school theater is created to inspire confidence, to provide an escape from life, and to be enjoyed. This is exactly what I feel the West Allegheny Theatre Department clearly achieved.
Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson. For more high school musicals coverage, go to http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/ and scroll down.