- September 28th, 2015
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The current show at Rochester Civic Theatre is Catch Me if You Can – The Musical, a musical adaptation of the movie, itself an adaptation of the book. I remember reading the book some time before the movie. It was intriguing both because of the sheer gumption of Frank Abagnale, especially at such a young age, and the insecurity of so many institutions like banks. He was able to forge checks using the system against itself. While a lot of what he did would no longer work, the computer-driven world has its own insecurities. As we’ve seen.
I remember wondering how this story would work as a musical. My first question was if they portrayed Abagnale’s time in a French prison. The description in the book was not happy. Perhaps in a musical like Les Mis it might work. But, no, there is no prison scene.
There is an abundance of fun songs and – in this production – a ton of great dancing. The players worked their tales off, and it shows!
The sets are pretty simple with a few pieces moving on and off stage between scenes. That lets scene changes become more-or-less nonexistent. Often, as a song happens down stage right, things are moving behind them and suddenly we’re into the next scene.
When I saw the show as an audience member on opening night, I was able to pay more attention to this. There were one or two scenes that actually take a few seconds, but most happen almost seamlessly. For shooting, it meant it was pretty constant from the start until intermission and then until the end. For the audience, it means the show moves fast.
Shooting the show, it’s musical theatre standard methods. Lots of colorful costumes, gel’d lights, spots. There’s a lot of dancing, many big dance numbers. All challenging and all rewarding when you get a good photo.
These shows are a bit more work in post, as well, mainly to cope with the large dynamic range especially when spots are used.
There are hot spots (from normal lights, not spot lights) to deal with, too. I have developed some tricks to work around these issues.
There are also some things you can do in a theatre photo that look good but wouldn’t work at all for many other types of photography.
It’s all about lights and lighting and, I think, about how we interpret what we see. And what we expect to see.
The other problem I sometimes have with musicals is culling the shots down. Visually, there is so much happening and so much movement that there are many photos one can (and this one does) take. Eventually, I have to ask if each shot tells something of the story or if it’s not much different from some other shot.
Do I keep the really nice photo of the couple sitting on the gurney staring lovingly into each others eyes, or the fun one with the pillow and laughs? I end up keeping both.
A drama just doesn’t produce as many. When a show is dialog-driven, the actors may move around to keep the intensity for the audience, but for still photography, the goal is more to find that one angle, the one photo that communicates the emotion of that interaction.
For a musical, it’s in some ways more of an event, a performance of singing and dancing that we’ve come to enjoy. So I want my photos to bring that across. Sometimes, there’s a deeper meaning or darker mood to a musical, and those provide challenges which seem to cross the two genres.
Catch Me runs just one more weekend. It’s immensely entertaining, the music is great, and the RCT cast and crew will keep you engaged and laughing. A truly fun show!