a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

“Catch Me If You Can” was a terrific Stephen Spielberg-directed, entertaining, sexy movie. It had speed, style, wry humor, Leonardo DiCaprio at his charming best, Tom Hanks as his frazzled, funny pursuer, Christopher Walken’s best before-0r-since performance as Di Caprio’s complex, concerned dad and French film legend Natalie Baye as Walken’s wayward wife and Di Caprio’s dazzlingly young French mother. RENT IT IMMEDIATELY.

Because if you drop a bundle of cash on Broadway’s over-priced tickets to the new musical version of “Catch Me if You Can”, you are going to feel gypped. Really, really gypped.

First let me say that I LOVED Aaron Tveit. He was memorable, haunting and engaging as the ghost of the manic-depressive Mom of the brilliant Alice Ripley in the far superior “Next to Normal.” He egregiously didn’t get a Tony Nomination, when everything else in the musical, including the rug, got nominated a few years back.

And I really did look forward to seeing him emerge as a musical comedy star, in a musical specifically written for him by the same team that successfully brought us the musical of “Hairspray” but alas ~ no. He has to carry this HUGE, WEIGHTED DOWN, dull, dull show almost entirely on his own.

His pursuer, Hanratty, played with great gusto, but disfiguring horn-rimmed glasses and a fat suit by the great Norbert Leo Butz, is a supporting player here. Whereas Tom Hanks in the movie, was the superbly slick Leonardo DiCaprio’s co-star. When he got frustrated chasing this ace con man around the world, Hanks was always funny in his frazzeledness. But Butz, in this awful outfit, seems simply sad and middle-aged. Not great qualities to buoy up a sinking Broadway musical. Ditto the defeated-edness of Tom Wopat as our hero’s father.

Chirstopher Walken was so complex and moving as the Dad in the movie, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. That 2002 performance has stayed in my mind and reminds me of just how terrific an actor Walken can be when he is not doing schtick.

But mostly I worried about the handsome, young Tveit. And how he seemed endlessly flat, but bright and spritely, as this lumpen musical wore on and on. Wearing out its’ questionable welcome hours before it was over.

One kept hoping it would pick up and become like “Hairspray” i.e. tuneful and funny. But it doesn’t. It certainly doesn’t. And the music is flat, too. What a shame.

Will the promising Tveit’s career overcome what surely is going to be seen as HIS great failure. But then, “Catch Me If You Can” may not be able to outrun its’ critics pans. Like this one. The sooner this show closes, the better for Aaron Tveit’s  budding career.

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