Catch Me If You Can

  • Catching a Glimpse of a Life In Living Color


    Catch Me If You Can,* the two-time Tony Award-winning “high-flying Broadway musical comedy about chasing your dreams and not getting caught” touched down on the Sayville High School stage in  spectacular style.


    *The 2002 film of the same name, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, was based upon the 1980 autobiography of Frank Abignale, Jr, about a teenage runaway in the mid-1960s who bankrolled $2 million as a check-forger and successfully impersonated a doctor, a lawyer, and a jet-pilot—all before turning 21. In 2011, the Hairspray creative team reworked the glamorized biopic into a rousing musical for Broadway where  it had a short run; yet Broadway’s loss was Sayville’s gain.

    Audiences filed into the Sayville High School auditorium accompanied by the sights and sounds of pre-performance entertainment—sixties television shows and commercials played on two big screens flanking the stage. These set the mood for the play’s time-frame from five decades ago. Once the house lights had gone dark, the black-and-white image of CBS Evening News Anchorman Walter Cronkite” (Otto Cooley) appeared on the screen to report—in his signature dry tone—the breaking news: “…you will see some wonderful and talented high school performers singing, dancing, and acting their way into your hearts.” Cronkite also reminded audiences to silence electronic devices, to refrain from flash photography during the show and additionally cautioned about copyright infringements.


    Not long after the curtain rose for the excitingly vibrant opening number Live In Living Color, Sayville audiences realized that “Walter Cronkite” had not lied about the performance, although perhaps the most trusted newsman in America  had been a bit understated. Sayville put on a phenomenal show that received standing ovations every night.

    The cast was headed by two leads who bounced off each other with wonderful energy:

    • Praise must start with Sayville Senior Jamie Baio who gave a professional-caliber performance as Frank Abignale, Jr. Remaining in character with every nuance of his body language and dramatic gestures, Jamie was irresistible in the spotlight with his energizing acting, dancing, and amazing vocal talent, helping audiences forget this was a high school production.
    • Junior James Velazquez made quite a winning impression singing, dancing, and acting in the role of FBI Special Agent Carl Hanratty, the determined investigator who was averse to “breaking all the rules.” But in the dance routine, James as the uptight Hanratty “let loose” with his FBI dance team and made all the right moves in a tremendously exciting number.
    But no part was too small for the huge talent on stage:
    • Sophomore Alex Pittari commanded his singing-acting-dancing role with a quality beyond his years. He played the smooth operator Frank Abignale, Sr. whose influence led his impressionable son astray. (And Alex deserves a special nod for the winning poster design and the Giant Mardis Gras Head in Act II.)
    • Senior Emily Llewellyn delivered a poignant portrayal of the complicated Paula Abignale who regaled men with her French accent and sultriness, but Emily’s exceptional voice in Don’t be a Stranger left audiences wanting more. In addition when not being Paula, Emily shared her singing and dancing talents as a member of the Ensemble.
    • Behind dark-rimmed glasses, Junior Otto Cooley embodied Walter Cronkite for the pre-show “housekeeping” announcements, but on stage he became the sarcastic FBI Agent Cod, quipping snide asides behind wry grins, and played successfully for laughs. In addition, he too,  like many of the cast leads, blended into the Ensemble for singing and dancing routines.
    • Freshman Shaun Gibbons nailed the expressions and the personality of the Rookie FBI Agent Dollar who while the butt of pranks was able to turn the tables for comic effect. Dollar’s jaw-dropping epiphany on stage raised howls of laughter from the audience.
    • Freshman Chris Quartuccio was a well-placed  straight-man as the pragmatic FBI Agent Branton, turned on the charm as the dashing Dr. Ben Casey, and blended well into the Ensemble for numerous song-and-dance numbers.
    • Senior Angelina Keller played it slinky and sly as the seductress model Cheryl Ann and certainly was a stand-out singing- and-dancing presence in the Ensemble routines.
    • Junior Dea Ahlgrim when not in the Ensemble, acted as Frank Jr.’s love interest Brenda Strong and garnered enormous sympathy for her sweet portrayal; but Dea blew audiences away with her stunningly powerful performance of Fly Fly Away, accompanied by backup singers Olivia Anderson, Kate Donohue, and Amanda Wessels.
    • Senior Meghan Fawcett has always been unforgettable in her singing, dancing, and acting performances throughout her high school career. She did not disappoint in her quirky role as the “Hunky-hunk-of-You-Betcha!” mother, Carol Strong. She also blended her talents in the Ensemble.
    • Sophomore Luke Rosario portrayed the dynamic Roger Strong with sophisticated Southern style. Embodying the strong-willed lawyer, bible-toting Lutheran, and demanding but loving father to Brenda, his characterization proved to be a match-made-in heaven for his effervescent wife. He too lent his singing, dancing, and acting talents in the Ensemble when not in a major role.


    Within the Ensemble many individuals had breakout moments, taking the spotlight to showcase their outstanding dancing and singing talents. (Special applause goes to those amazing dancers!) As a collective, the members of the Ensemble, along with the wonderful musicians in the orchestra, not only supported the lead roles but they enhanced the entire production. 


    And while the acting, vocal and orchestral talents were essential elements on stage, the entertaining dance routines and remarkable costuming were prominent features of Catch Me If You Can. The show dazzled thanks to Denise Baio who handled the daunting juggling acts as the dance, makeup, and costume director.

    For the success of this production, there so many within the Sayville High School music and drama programs whose creative energies deserve thanks: Musical Director/Accompanist Jeffrey Hoffman, Producer/Lighting/Technical Director Steven Hailey, Orchestra Conductor Ari Kramer, Scenery Ken Van Essendelft and Pete Carbocci, Sound supervisor Joseph Albanese, Stage/Paint  Managers Rebecca Mohrmann, Elizabeth Gouvis, Assistant to the Director Taylor Grandfield, Assistant Stage  Managers, Mackenzie Leddy, Karlee Ibanez, Properties Master Lillian Schweikert, the Lighting Lead Technician Autumn Dushnik and Crew, the Scenery/running Crew… The list goes on.


    “Now the curtain's descending,” Frank sings in Goodbye, his last solo in the musical, “and I hope you got your money’s worth.”

    Yes, indeed!  Each night, the Sayville audiences felt they got their money's worth and more.

    PERFORMERS:  Dea Ahlgrim, Olivia Anderson, Izzy Arzt, Jamie Baio, Elizabeth Campbell, Chris Castelli, Richard Cotes,Valentina Contreras,Otto Cooley,Kate Donohue, Meghan Dooley, Chloe Dymeck,Meghan Fawcett, Nicolette Furno, Shaun Gibbons,Angie Keller, Katie Kohn, Meagan Kotkiewicz, Emily Llewellyn,Sam LoGrippo, Gabby Luthy,Allison Lynn, Kaitlyn Maher, Gabby Medeck,Adele Micelli, Jonathan Nolan, Emily Osterloh, Melina Piervencenti,  Chris Pitri, Alex Pittari, Erika Powers, Chris Quartuccio, Luke Rosario, Zoe Rivera, Julianna Sagginario, Angel Salemi, Cameryn Surdi,  James Valazquez, Jackie Weinfeld, Amanda Wessels, Mikayla Zeman


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