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Behind the Scenes of ‘Catch Me If You Can’

The Penn State Thespians, Penn State’s oldest continuously-run student organization, puts on one main stage show a semester. This weekend, they’re presenting “Catch Me If You Can.” But before the cast could dazzle audiences with catchy songs and flashy dances, a lot of work had to be done.

The entire production staff is students. That means everything from building the set to sewing the costumes fell on the club members’ shoulders. Take a look to see how the club spent the past few weeks preparing for its performances today and tomorrow:

The Rehearsal Process

Auditions for “Catch Me If You Can” were held the first week of classes, and rehearsals began immediately afterwards. The actors began memorizing lines, learning the music, and practicing the show’s difficult choreography the Tuesday after the cast list was announced.


The female ensemble perfects a formation for one of the show’s biggest numbers, “Doctor’s Orders.”


Co-choreographer Devon Fields instructs male ensemble members and FBI agents during the song, “Don’t Break the Rules.” The jazzy number is about staying on the straight-and-narrow path, unlike the protagonist of the show, conman Frank Abagnale Jr.

The Building Process 

While the rehearsal staff and cast were hard at work bringing director Hailey Rohn’s vision to life, the producer and technical team were creating a set and stage for the show. The actual construction of the set began in TAPS, or the Theatre Arts Production Studio. Two weeks before the show, the entire club comes out to assemble and paint various set pieces.


The design plans for the Pan-Am jet, a main focal point of the set, are gridded out for construction.

The Load-In Process

Although some of the set is built at TAPS, most of it requires assembly in the theater itself. A week before opening night, the pieced-apart set is sent over to Schwab Auditorium. There, the bulk of the building and design work are put together. The process is long and often difficult, as many unforeseen problems present themselves. But by the end of the process, the set is ready for actors to take the stage!


Members of the Penn State Thespians stand up a platform, which will be used as an entrance and exit during the show.


One of the members of costume crew puts the final touches on a New York Yankee’s tank, which will be used during the number “The Pin Stripes Are All That They See.”


The beginnings of the set of “Catch Me If You Can,” from the balcony of Schwab Auditorium.

Though it’s been a long few weeks for the Penn State Thespians, the end product is truly worth it. “Catch Me If You Can” opened last night, revealing the Thespians’ work to the world. Check out some photos from the production here:


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For more information about “Catch Me If You Can,” visit the Facebook event.

About the Author

Anna Foley

Anna is a senior majoring in Communication Arts & Sciences and Spanish with a minor in Theatre. Yes, she went to Spain. Follow her half-funny thoughts @exfoleyator and send her chain emails at [email protected]


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