Maybe it was the Caribbean-blue uniforms that evoked a sense of mystery and adventure. Or perhaps it was that air-travel was still a rare privilege, but to this day Pan Am Airlines still stirs up travel memories that no other airline has since achieved. If you long for a glimpse back, you will want to buy tickets to the play, Catch Me if You Can that opens in Denver Feb. 26, at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. The play is based on a true story about teen-con man Frank Abagnale Jr, who got away with pretending he was a Pan Am pilot as well as a lawyer and doctor.
Though Abagnale had long been caught by the time I was a Pan Am flight attendant, his antics were a common topic of conversation in the galley and on the crew bus. The play tells the stories that were legendary among crew members. Though our skirts were much longer than the actresses in the play (no really they were), the play preview by CBS Critic-At Large Greg Moody will reignite Abagnale's stories and memories of the iconic airline.
In case you don't know the story, Abagnale's con-man days started at age 16, when he ran away after hearing of his parent's divorce. Soon thereafter, he began his days as a con-man. With a Pan Am uniform and premature graying hair, he got away with being much older and immersed himself in an adult world of travel and adventure. He wrote bad checks to fund his lifestyle and relied on his photographic memory to pretend to be a Pan Am pilot, as well as other highly regarded professions like a physician and lawyer (see the video for a few of his stories from the man himself).
I have always related Abagnale, since I too began similar adventure when I was hired by Pan Am as an international flight attendant at age 19. By age 20, I was traveling and living in a very adult world at a very young age, just legally. Airline travel at the time was a lot like a Broadway play, with a lot of attention to detail. Every flight was a big production that started for us hours before the wheels left the tarmac.
Moody says the play is a rare treat because it captures Pan Am in a bygone era with big Broadway-style production numbers that are not often seen today. The score is 1960's music written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, better known for their work on the Tony award winning play Hairspray. See the Catch Me if You Can slideshow for play photos.
Moody is offering some very good deals on tickets. For instance, Moody's deal is $50 orchestra seats, which is a $35 - $45 savings. Link here to CBS Denver for details, call (303) 893-4100 for tickets and information or visit Denver Center for Performing Arts website.
The Westin Hotel also offers special rates for locals, at $119 per night. Book online and use the code RESIDENT. Look for other bargain Westin rates here. And, Denver restaurants offer theater guests discounts in dining. For instance. present your ticket stub at the Corner Office and get 10% off food and beverage, valet parking for $8. Link here for more details for other partner and sponsor restaurants.
Editor's Note: If you are a Pan Am travel buff, you will want to see the collection of new travel bags and accessories from PanAm.com. The company has revived the Pan Am brand with amazing Pan-Am branded clothing, bags and accessories, many that look like the travel goodies we used to give away for free to passengers. Bags come with authentically realistic luggage tags and trinkets that always get comments when I travel with the Pan Am gear. Link here to get more information.
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