Con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. impersonated a pilot, doctor, and lawyer in the 1960s — all without even graduating high school.
In Greenville Theatre’s “Catch Me If You Can: The Musical,” audiences get a front-row seat to Frank’s cat-and-mouse game with the FBI.
Based on the 2002 Steven Spielberg film, the musical comedy follows the true story of this master trickster full of charming ways and forged checks.
“He is this larger-than-life personality back when he was involved in this life of crime,” resident actor Andrew Anderson says. “He was a smooth talker. He knew how to get his way.”
Running away from home as a 16-year-old, young Frank, portrayed by Anderson, journeys to find fortune and fame.
“He was very good at what he did, and he got away with a lot of things,” Anderson says. “So it’s kind of the story that’s so hard to believe that someone could do something like this, but he just was able to figure it out.”
While the 2002 movie exaggerates the truth, the “Catch Me If You Can” musical touches on more of the actual story, Anderson says.
The show features jazzy show-stopping songs to captivate the audience. “The second that first song starts, you’re in because it’s nonstop, just boom, boom, boom, all this fantastic music,” Anderson says. “They’re definitely going to be in for a ride.”
While the musical focuses on Frank constantly running and FBI agent Carl Hanratty constantly chasing, “Catch Me If You Can” doesn’t present audiences with a classic good guy versus bad guy scenario.
“You want both people to win in the end,” Anderson says. “The theme of the story isn’t just right there in front of you. It’s not like don’t steal.” He says audiences will have to look beyond the surface to find the moral or theme.
Resident actor Evan Harris portrays Carl in the musical. Not based on a real person, Harris’ character represents several real FBI agents who chased Frank.
“To [Carl], there is nothing worse than someone who doesn’t abide by the system,” Harris says. “And he sees this guy getting away with so much, and he becomes so obsessed and driven.”
Harris says the musical seems to be split between the two actors leading up to the point of their meeting.
“Neither of them are truly bad people,” Harris says. “Like even though Frank’s doing bad things, in his heart he’s not a bad guy. And, Carl’s just a workaholic who gets obsessed with this case in particular.”
If Harris had to pick a theme, he says it would be “redemption” and also “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
“[Carl] spends a lot of time assuming he knows who this guy is,” he says. “And then the deeper he digs into his life, the more sympathetic he becomes to him.”
‘Catch Me If You Can’
When: May 31-June 23
Where: Greenville Theatre, 444 College St., Greenville