Frank Abagnale Jr.’s surreal life as a con artist was fit to be a musical. “Catch Me If You Can” is the true story of this deceptive, jet-setting man who practiced as a doctor, lawyer and pilot — without credentials for any of these jobs. And the Tony-winning musical is perfect for the talent of Boston Conservatory’s finest this fall.
“It’s just an exciting story. But also the music is fantastic,” says director/choreographer Michelle Chasse, coordinator of musical theater dance at the conservatory. “It’s great because it definitely pays homage to the 1960s but there are many different styles of music from straight jazz to pop ballads to giant musical theater production numbers, so as a choreographer it’s really fun.”
Based on Abagnale’s book and the 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the musical describes the con man’s life through flashy song and dance numbers and the inspiration of ’60s variety shows like Mitch Miller’s “Sing Along with Mitch.”
A little bit of everything
“’Jet Set’ has a nice big kick line in it. Then we talk about Mitch Miller — that’s very cutesy,” says Chasse. “Then the men have a number together called ‘Don’t Break the Rules’ and that’s a showstopper.”
During Abagnale’s trials and travails, he develops a close relationship with the policeman Carl Hanratty, who ultimately arrests him.
“The man that Hanratty’s based off of is a man named Joseph Shea from Somerville,” explains Chasse. “He went to [Boston College] and he was an accounting major there. So I wanted to make sure that on his desk, you’ll see a BC pennant and Boston Red Sox memorabilia.”’
The ensemble cast of 27 was selected from the 200 students in the conservatory’s musical theater department. The musical’s novel, dynamic storyline allows these students to flex their performance muscles.
“Some of these ballads, vocally, are incredible what these students can do,” explains Chasse.
“These actors are telling the story and singing their faces off. And then there are others where they are using all three — they’re singing, they’re dancing, they’re acting to tell a story in these numbers.”
And it sounds like their effort is paying off. “I’m seeing them create their own way of telling the story of these real life people which is beautiful to watch.”
If you go:
Boston Conservatory Theater
31 Hemenway St., 2nd Floor
Tickets start at $25, 617-912-9222, bostonconservatory.berklee.edu