Turning Good Movies Into Great Musicals

Catch Me If You Can opens on Broadway Sunday, April 10, 2011.  My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing one of the final preview performances, the Saturday matinee.  We loved it so much; we think it will have a terrific run.  Many musicals have been turned into successful motion pictures (West Side Story, Chicago, Grease, Dreamgirls, and Little Shop of Horrors, just to name a few), but it takes tremendous skill and lots of luck to transform a movie into a stage musical.  Playwright Terrance McNally, who wrote the book for one of my favorites, The Full Monty, has done it again with this witty, touching, totally entertaining adaptation of the Steven Spielberg film which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Amy Adams, Christopher Walken, and Martin Sheen.

The Broadway show is a traditional crowd pleaser with a wonderful story, great tunes (like "Live in Living Color" and "Butter Outta Cream" which will likely be stuck in your head for a while), and remarkable performances, especially by Norbert Leo Butz who practically steals the show as Agent Carl Hanratty.  His showstopping number "Don't Break the Rules" is one for the ages.  He should definitely be on the shortlist of contenders for award season.  That takes nothing away from the rest of the energetic and capable cast, especially Aaron Tveit as the charismatic young con-man Frank Abagnale, Jr.  For those who may still remember Tom Wopat as "just a good old boy" from the original Dukes of Hazzard, they will not be disappointed by his turn as Frank Abagnale, Sr., his finest role yet.  Kerry Butler also impresses as the love interest, Brenda Strong, wowing the audience with her rendition of "Fly, Fly Away."

Will Catch Me If You Can join the ranks of other blockbuster musicals inspired by movies, like The Producers and Hairspray?  It certainly deserves to be.  Catch it if you can.