Off Off Broadway, an on-campus student-run theater organization, will be performing the musical "Catch Me If You Can" this weekend.
The musical is based on the 2002 movie of the same name, which follows the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a con man who successfully posed as a pilot, along with other fake identities. The musical covers the cat-and-mouse game between Abagnale and Carl Hanratty, the FBI agent who is tasked with tracking down Abagnale.
Off Off Broadway is a student-run organization that is not affiliated with the USC theater department. Since the organization is entirely run by students, it provides a way for all students, regardless of major or theater background, a chance to participate in the performing and making of theater.
Devyn Porter, a fourth-year theatre student who plays Abagnale, said the movie is one of his favorite films and that he loves the musical, which made this role a must for Porter. Porter gets to play the many different cons, which Abagnale believes can reunite his family.
“This has been probably the most fun role I've ever had,” Porter said.
The musical was chosen by the members of Off Off Broadway and it contains many different musical styles besides the traditional Broadway sound. Will MacDonald, a second-year criminal justice and history student in the ensemble, said the musical contains many musical genres due to its setting in the mid-1960s.
“You get a little bit of rock from it, you get a little bit of country. We have some numbers where you're down in the South and everyone has Southern accents,” MacDonald said. “It really is a little bit of everything.”
For MacDonald, the organization has allowed him to get involved in an interest he loved in high school but put aside at college.
“I haven't done a show since I was in high school," MacDonald said. "So I have kind of missed that feeling of just being on stage.”
The musical is also a return to a full show that doesn't require COVID-19 precautions. Kayla Schoff, a fourth-year nursing student in the ensemble and Public Relations officer for the organization, said COVID-19 caused shows to become pre-recorded songs that were edited together. Then when in-person performances returned, cast members had to wear masks.
"Catch Me If You Can" marks the return of Off Off Broadway's maskless performances, which Schoff said benefits the community by bringing people closer together.
According to Schoff, the organization has many new members this year, both freshman and older students. This larger group is creating more connections, both through working on shows and through social events.
“(Off Off Broadway is) back to having a lot of fun getting to be really close with everybody,” Schoff said. “I feel like I have a lot more close friends in it this year than I did last year, which is always super fun.”
As the cast prepares to finally perform after over two months of work, many share excitement for getting to be in front of an audience.
“We worked really hard,” Porter said. “Seeing everything come together — sets, costumes, props, all of that. We have a really good show. And I'm so excited for people to get to see it.”
"Catch Me If You Can" is running from Nov. 17 to Nov. 20 at the Benson Theatre at 226 Bull Street. Admission is free.