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Centennial takes flight with last theatre show at old Coquitlam school

Musical theatre class jumps on board with Catch Me If You Can
Centennial secondary takes flight this month with the musical Catch Me If You Can, starring Senen De Las Llagas, Lilliana Armstrong, Tren Wallace, Vanessa Porretti and Aaron Pardi. The production — the last one happening in the theatre of the old Coquitlam high school — opens Thursday and runs until Feb. 4 and Feb. 9 to 11.

One Singular Sensation was supposed to be the last show on the Centennial secondary stage.

When alumni bid farewell to the beloved theatre last June with a revue, everyone was looking forward to the next production happening in the newly built school, off Winslow Avenue.

But when September came and students, teachers and staff were still in the 50-year-old facility, the musical theatre team had to think: By February, would they still be in their current space or would they be debuting their new digs?

Either way, they had to pick a show that could accommodate both sites. 

And that meant choosing a musical that wouldn’t need a lot of sets and could — if needed — be transportable.

By November, they had their answer. Catch Me If You Can would take place in their old venue.

Drama teacher Lisa Boddez got to work right away, trying to figure out how to make the final student performance extra special. 

For the first time in the school’s history, they were allowed to paint the walls. Boddez also got Pan Am costumes for all the theatre crew so they, too, could be part of the action.

As well, they decided to get the audience to play along.

Ticketholders will essentially be airplane passengers, seated in the fuselage as they watch con artist Frank Abagnale Jr. (played by Grade 11 student Tren Wallace) being chased down by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (portrayed by Aaron Pardi, a Grade 12 student).

During a rehearsal last Thursday, the cast and student orchestra — led for the 16th time by music teacher Carole Baker — offered an energetic number, complete with high kicks choreographed by alumni Milena Canta and Mikki Roberts.

It’s not the easiest show to pull off, Boddez said, citing its challenging score and plot — most of which is borrowed from the 2002 film of the same name that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Still, when Abagnale Jr. delivers his final line — after finally being caught — the crowd will know its meaning will also apply to the Centennial stage.

“It will be very full circle,” Boddez said. “His game is over. Our theatre here will be over. There will be a lot of goodbyes.”

Meanwhile, the audience will also have a chance to walk down memory lane as the school hallway will be decorated with Centennial theatre posters from the past (the theatre operated a year before the school officially opened, in the country’s centennial year of 1967).

“We want a proper send-off,” Boddez said, “and we want everyone to know how much talent has come out of this school.”

• Catch Me If You Can kicks off Thursday at Centennial secondary (570 Poirier St., Coquitlam) and runs until Feb. 4, and Feb. 9 to 11. The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16/$13 via Visit