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The Chase is On as "Catch Me If You Can" Opens at Carnegie

Here’s a plot for a musical: Seeking fame and fortune, precocious teenager Frank Abignale, Jr. runs away from home to begin a stupefying adventure.

With boyish charm, a big imagination, and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer - living big and of course winning the girl of his dreams.

Too unbelievable? No, Catch Me If You Can is a case of truth-is-stranger-than-fiction. Back in the swinging Sixties, Abagnale had quite a run. His story was originally a box office hit starring Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Showbiz Players brings Catch Me and its bouncy score by the songwriters of Hairspray to The Carnegie for its regional premiere beginning May 13.

But what’s the story of a guy on the lam without an FBI agent giving chase?

At Showbiz, Robert Breslin is Frank and Jeff Richardson is FBI agent Carl Hanratty. This is the second time they’re an onstage team. They costarred in The Producers at Footlighters four years ago.

They are a mutual admiration society. Richardson “enjoys sharing the stage with Robert.” Breslin applauds Richardson for “bringing tons of energy to his characters on stage.”

Richardson points to “chemistry.” “From the character development, emotional delivery to the physical comedy, we want the audience to be absorbed in the performance.”

They’re both Northern Kentucky natives; Richardson is from Covington, Breslin is from Fort Thomas.

While there really was an Abagnale, Hanratty is a compilation of several FBI agents who worked on his case. Richardson says he “can relate (to his character’s) sense of focus and purpose.” Breslin sees young Abagnale as “a good sales guy, he has a way of connecting with and getting the buy in from others.” He gets that. Breslin was always the top seller at school fundraisers and went into a career in sales.

They both think Abagnale’s story is a natural for a Broadway musical.

Breslin says, “The whole story is Frank becoming these other characters and selling his way through life. Being set in the Sixties, the song and dance really adds another level to it.”

“My kids beg me to play the cast recording in the car,” Richardson says, and happily admits he “really enjoys singing all the songs in the show.”

A slight disappointment for fans of the Broadway musical is that some numbers have been shortened or eliminated for community theater.

Still, Richardson points out there are plenty of songs still in the show and, “The music allows the actors to really develop themselves and seduce audience members into feeling exactly the emotion necessary at the time.”

He’s also a fan of the period costumes. “We like those ‘Rat Pack’ hats.”

Whatever happened to freewheeling Frank? Abagnale went on to a successful career as a security consultant. Really.

Catch Me If You Can, May 13-22. Showbiz Players, The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 3 p.m. Sunday (May Tickets $24, students and seniors $21 (handling fee for inline orders). 859-957-1940 and here.

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts