Frank Abagnale Jr. has been many things in his 64 years on planet Earth. The infamous criminal turned FBI consultant has traveled as a commercial airline pilot and filled in as a physician. He was a confidence man, prisoner, escape artist, author, and notorious check forger. In 2002, the shape-shifting Abagnale added one more line to his long, weird resume: He became a movie character when Leonardo DiCaprio played him in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can. He became a character in a Broadway musical in 2011 when the creative team behind Hairspray (minus John Waters) first opened the campy stage adaptation that's landing at the Orpheum Tuesday, October 16th.
Musicals need larger-than-life characters, and Abagnale, who turned to crime when he was only 16, fits the bill. In 1967, at the age of 19, he forged Harvard credentials, passed the Louisiana bar exam, and took a job in the attorney general's office. He flew over 1 million miles masquerading as a pilot for Pan American World Airways. When he wasn't traveling around on Pan Am's dime or running away from the FBI, Abagnale moonlighted as a pediatrician.
The musical Catch Me If You Can has Mad Men appeal. It promises "more curves than a Playboy bunny" and doubles as a tribute to prime-time burlesque and the golden age of variety TV, when Dean Martin's tipsy antics were masked by a chorus of lovely dancing girls in revealing outfits.
"Catch Me If You Can" is at The Orpheum October 16th-21st. orpheum-memphis.com