Last week we introduced you to some of the cast members taking part in the Senior School musical, Catch Me If You Can. Today we’re thrilled to sit down with the two performers – Mark Finamore and Will Barry – who’ll be sharing the lead role in the musical: Frank Abagnale Jr.
Had you done much musical theatre before coming to SMUS?
Mark – I’ve always been really involved in performing. My old schools never really had musicals – more like plays – so I’ve been done some smaller shows like Mulan and The Wizard of Oz. Coming here was my first experience in doing a real big – but SMUS version of a – Broadway musical. It’s really incredible to be a part of because everything’s so high energy and moves so quickly.
Will – Someone noticed that I really like attention when I was younger, so I started on musical theatre pathways at a young age. This will be my sixth musical at a high school level, and I’ve had a lot of involvement in local theatre companies and youth theatre groups. Also, when I was in Middle School I wanted to direct something so I adapted Aladdin (the Disney movie) into a play. I thought I could direct and do costumes, props and sets. It was a lot more work than I thought and it gave me an immense respect for all that goes into a musical, especially now since coming to SMUS, the musical is at such a higher level than anything I’ve done before. It’s more intense and elaborate. Everyone comes together for the SMUS musical; I love to see how celebrated it is here.
Why did you try out for the lead in Catch Me If You Can?
Will – Why not? If I wasn’t capable of doing it, the directors would make the decision that’s best for the show. I just thought, “Why not just try out for Frank? If it doesn’t work out, I’ll still be happy being part of the musical. It’s still fun no matter what!”
Mark – I actually didn’t think I could get the part because of my vocal range, so I tried out for Carl Hanratty instead. I didn’t even think about trying out for Frank because he’s an insanely skilled vocalist and I didn’t think I was physically capable of singing the music. When I went into auditions I tried out for Carl, and then they said, “Well, how about you try singing a Frank song?” And everything worked out – though they have had to accommodate both Will and my singing voices for it!
What’s it like sharing a role in a SMUS musical?
Will – I had never experienced double casting until coming to SMUS and I was originally opposed to it, but now I really see the value in it. You get to watch someone else take on that character, you’re held accountable for how you portray them on stage and you can’t be lazy with it because someone else is playing that part, too. You learn from them and I think we help each other do the best we can on stage at all times. Two minds are better than one when interpreting a show.
Mark – The way lines are written, they can be delivered extremely differently depending on the actor. Seeing the way Will delivers some of his lines gets me to think about how I want to play Frank and how I want my Frank to be on stage. Double-casting is really great for the two of us!
How are your Franks different?
Mark – Will, naturally, is a very commanding person. When he walks on the stage, everyone’s watching and listening. It all comes natural for him and I learn so much from watching him.
Will – Mark’s Frank is very collected, very cool and calm. He seems more put together than my Frank. And he’s very charming; he has the con artist thing figured out: the people who are most manipulative are often the ones you like the most!
What do you enjoy most about musical theatre?
Mark – Through the months and months of work, I really enjoy the day of the performances with all the adrenaline and all the excitement that leads up to it. It’s a lot of work for such short stage time, but it all pays off in those three days of performance! You get to see how far you’ve all come and all the time you’ve put in, and everyone really gives everything they have for those shows.
Will – When I was younger – a lot younger – I thought theatre was inferior to film. I thought, “Theatre is my pathway into acting, but I won’t stay here forever.” Wrong! I eventually realized theatre is an incredible, unique way to tell stories and show that passion and share the beauty of a good show tune with an audience. It’s definitely a cliche thing to say, but theatre kind of feels like a home now. The ritual of a high school musical: the auditions, late-night rehearsals where everyone’s complaining, being thrust into spotlight – it wouldn’t feel like high school for me without doing a musical.
Why should people come see Catch Me If You Can?
Mark – Because there’s so much talent involved. Everyone on stage and in the orchestra and behind the scenes is so talented! It’s a big, fun and fast-paced, high-energy show.
Will – I think a musical really is the best way to bring a group of people together and revel in the pure energy and light that’s flowing off the stage into the audience. Everyone involved is here for the music and the performance and the art of it. Everyone wants to tell a story and share in a passion that comes out uniquely in musical theatre.
Catch Me If You Can runs nightly at 7:30 p.m. from March 1-3. There’s also a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, March 3. Tickets and more information are available on the McPherson Playhouse website.