By Taylor Turner
April 8, 2015
Tisch New Theatre recently mounted their spring main stage musical: “Catch Me If You Can,” which details the life of famous con-artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Framed as a ’60s musical variety show, Frank takes the audience through the years of his life as a con artist with the help of an impeccable dance ensemble and a lively score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman.
Director and choreographer Philip Colgan, a senior in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, has created a spectacle unparalleled by most of NYU’s theater scene. In an educational forum defined by strict minimalism, Colgan and his team, headed by producer Jason Arnold, a sophomore in Tisch, created a rich aesthetic through their mesmerizing production. His choreography, created with junior Tisch film student Marc Anthony Ferre, breathed life into certain numbers. Sharp, stylized movements and a constantly moving background reenergize the material for the hectic pace of modern life.
The cast is led by Steinhardt senior Jarrad Biron Green — fresh off playing Tony in the national tour of “West Side Story” — whose voice soars above the score’s demands with ease. Green’s quirky stage persona gives a relatability to Frank, particularly in his most tragic moments, which keeps the audience rooting for him while he is pursued by Carl Hanratty, who is played by Tisch senior Danté Jeanfelix. Jeanfelix nails an impressive balancing act between the awkward discomfort his FBI agent character feels in his career and the confident movement of his musical numbers, particularly “Don’t Break the Rules” — a thumping, jazzy dance number.
Sophomore Kylie Cipolla plays Frank’s love interest Brenda Strong with an honest, wide-eyed sweetness. Although she is not given as much material as the leading men — she only appears in Act Two and sings twice — Cipolla brings herself to what she has been given. Her rendition of “Fly, Fly Away” is belted with impressive strength.
The supporting cast is just as colorful. Damian Quinn as Frank Abagnale Sr. grounds himself in a persona far beyond his years with his baritone voice and an emotional connection that speaks to a commitment to character transformation. Ashley Coia finds a rewarding, sensual humanity as Paula, Frank’s mother, and Mallory Minerson and Emilio Madrid keep the crowd in stitches as Brenda’s parents, a picture-perfect Southern couple.
Overall, the cast perfectly executes this enormous show. A group of students from varying performance backgrounds and fields of study, ranging from Tisch actors to Poly engineers, put on a show of this massive scale with passion and dedication.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 8 print edition. Email Taylor Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.