Returning to the Place Dreams are Born: Cathy Rigby takes off once again as “Peter Pan” -

THEATER: Cathy Rigby’s gravity- and age-defying wonder -

Review: At 59, Cathy Rigby still is 'Peter Pan' -

Plenty of fairy dust left in 'Peter Pan' -

'Peter Pan,' Rigby soar at Straz Center -

Scribe flies across stage at Hanover -

Players make 107-year-old 'Peter Pan' fresh, fun -

Rigby wows as 'Peter Pan' in Broadway Theatre League season opener -

Photo of the Day: Rigby Is Peter Pan -

Former Gymnast (and Grandma) Cathy Rigby Reprises Peter Pan (Again) -

Cathy Rigby lends athletic prowess to 'Peter Pan' -

Elation flies on Peter Pan tour -


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'Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan' national tour review -

Cathy Rigby takes flight again Tuesday in OKC as 'Peter Pan' -

Cathy Rigby flies back to Oklahoma City for timeless 'Peter Pan' -

Broadway Theatre League First Show of the Season - 'Peter Pan' -

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'Peter Pan' performance helps Cathy Rigby leap to stardom -

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Returning to the Place Dreams are Born: Cathy Rigby takes off once again as “Peter Pan”

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by Frances Baum Nicholson

I can remember the first time I saw Cathy Rigby as “Peter Pan,” back in the early 90s. Although the miracle of television had ingrained Mary Martin’s version in my mind as a child, Rigby brought something new. A former gymnast, she truly knew how to move like a boy. She could sing well enough to carry all those memorable songs, and it worked. Not surprisingly she was nominated for a Tony for the part in 1991.

Now Rigby has returned to the part, as she has several times in between. Currently at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, she still has the moves, swooping about on a rig far more sophisticated than Martin’s original, and she can dance and horse about with boyish enthusiasm. Age only shows in her singing voice, compensated for on a few occasions by turning solos into duets.

By now everyone knows the story, right? Rigby plays Peter Pan, the boy who won’t grow up. He descends upon the Victorian nursery of the Darling family, and takes their three children back to his home in Neverland, particularly Wendy to be a mother to “the lost boys.” On his island packed with adventure, the three children and Peter contend with Indians, mermaids, and pirates. All the while, Mr. and Mrs. Darling and their dog-nanny Nana wait, hoping for their children’s eventual return.

The production around Rigby proves first-rate. Brent Barrett makes a terrific Captain Hook. Jenna Wright proves impressive as the dancing Indian princess Tiger Lily. James Leo Ryan has a ball with the obsequious first mate, Mr. Smee, and Krista Buccellato, Cade Canon Ball and Julia Massey make delightful and animated work of the Darling children Peter whisks away. Glenn Casale’s direction is tight and often funny. Patti Colombo’s elaborate, exhausting dance numbers are handled with amazing ease by a very talented ensemble.

In other words, it all works. Well paced and very active, it captures an audience, young or old, from start to finish. Even the applause necessary for Tinker Bell’s return (a rather better Tinker Bell than many productions) is instant and heartfelt. Rigby’s boyish mugging proves engaging too, and brings a necessary childlike quality to it all.

Indeed, the only rough spots have appeared at the hands of the stage crew, which had some very amateurish moments, at least on the press opening: pulling the wrong cord on the various curtains and drops more than once, and becoming startlingly noisy backstage during the very last, gentle and intimate scene – a scene upon which they dropped the final curtain too soon.

The only other questionable item, as mentioned before, proves to be Rigby’s voice: roughly boyish when speaking, but equally rough when trying to sing the show’s comparatively lyrical musical numbers. In comparison with Buccallato’s Wendy and Kim Crosby’s Mrs. Darling, whose equally lyrical moments prove comparatively lilting, it becomes an issue on occasion. For now much can be covered by making musical adjustments, but it is a troubling sign.

Still, this is the “Peter Pan” to take your kids, or your grandkids to. Colorful, action-packed, funny and touching by turns, it has all the elements which have captivated children all the way back to J.M. Barrie’s original. For the rest of us there is always something alluring in the idea of being able to stay childlike forever, and the grown-up Wendy’s admission “I can’t go with you Peter. I’m ever so much more than 20,” can still elicit a momentary sigh.

What: “Peter Pan” When: Through June 24, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, wiht 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday Where: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada How Much: $35 – $50 Info: (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310 or

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THEATER: Cathy Rigby’s gravity- and age-defying wonder

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If McCoy-Rigby Entertainment can sprinkle a truckload of fairy dust onto the cast, crew and sets of “Peter Pan” and fly it to the Fox Performing Arts Center, Riverside is in for a high-flying treat.

The sharp, athletic, exuberant production opened Saturday night at the La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts, the first stop in the second leg of a national tour that extends into 2013.

Fronting the wonderment is the show’s star and “mother,” Cathy Rigby. Rigby, who refuses to grow old, delivers a soaring, delightfully snotty performance as the boy who refuses to grow up. Her Pan is part brat, part bat — and all amazing.

And, yes, the former Olympic gymnast will be 60 this year. Suspended overhead, she spins, floats, twirls, black-flips…and amazes. And after the show, when one might suspect she’d prefer to be in bed, she’s just as energetic as when she first hit the stage. Doesn’t all these airborne antics tucker out this AARP recruit?

“No, not really,” she smiled. “I get pumped up doing the show and it takes me a while to wind down.

“But I’ll sleep well later,” she grinned as she took time to chat, embrace and pose for pictures with a line of fans.

The show’s arrival in Riverside is sort of an awkward, stunted curtain call for Rigby and her husband, Tom McCoy, whose production company hasn’t been invited back to the Fox after one five-show season at the revitalized venue.

Nonetheless, it’s likely to be a sweet farewell for Inland theatergoers.

The show features all the components that make for a polished prodigal Pan — and subtracts some of the play’s enduring imperfections. The pluses:

Rigby, whom you have come to expect to get the overhead gymnastics right. Her final flight into the audience, casting pixie dust everywhere, is worth the ticket price by itself.

She also captures the Pan-perplex perfectly — he’s a boastfully bully, but a lost soul, too. And the kids get that mix.

Brent Barrett, a big-voiced, hammy Hook, whose multiethnic crew is almost a match for the boy wonder and his Lost Boys.

Precise, energetic dancing and a general sense that the performers were having as much fun as the audience. Teeth clenched and legs flying, Jenna Wright performed a particularly athletic Tiger Lily.

What’s missing? Thankfully, the performance plays down the faux-Indian hokum of the original. Most of the painfully uggabuggspeak is gone, supplanted by an ebullient, show-stopping drumming sequence.

“Peter Pan” plays the Fox June 29-July 1. Information:

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At 59, Cathy Rigby still is 'Peter Pan'

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Apparently, spending the bulk of your time in Neverland really will stop you from growing up. Cathy Rigby won a Tony nomination for her performance as Peter Pan on Broadway in the 1990 revival. Now, at 59, she is once again soaring and scattering pixie dust at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, in a touring production by McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the company she runs with her husband, Tom McCoy.

An earlier tour, in 2004-05, was billed as Rigby’s farewell to the part she had claimed so definitively (even unseating Mary Martin) that the marquees read (as they do now), “Cathy Rigby Is Peter Pan.” But like Peter Pan himself, it seems, she couldn’t stay away forever. “I hope she doesn’t need a walker,” a friend joked.

She certainly doesn’t. And to see her fearless and ebullient flying, newly choreographed by Paul Rubin with even more athletic flips, is to suspect that the role actually functions as a youth elixir. Trained as a gymnast — she competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics — the petite Rigby remains light on her feet. She still belts out her numbers, and her acting feels fresh too. There’s nothing fey or cloying about her Peter, who has something indefinably boyish about him.

All of the winning elements of earlier McCoy Rigby productions remain. Glenn Casale directs. Patti Colombo choreographs. The musical design is by Bruce Barnes, and the costumes are by Shigeru Yaji. John Iacovelli’s sets, from the Darlings’ Edwardian nursery to Hook’s pirate ship, are a visual feast.

The storytelling, crammed into two acts, may gloss over a few narrative connections but has enough adventure and swordplay to distract younger viewers from any puzzlement.

Krista Buccellato makes a lovely Wendy, and Cade Canon Ball and Julia Massey, respectively, are adorable as John and Michael. After learning to fly, the three children politely retreat upstage and dangle in midair to watch Peter zip around -- because it’s really Peter’s show.

Kim Crosby has a sweet, dreamy charm as Mrs. Darling and is heartrending as grown-up Wendy. Jenna Wright as Tigerlily makes her entrance with an arresting rope dance. My daughter was especially taken with Clark Roberts as Nana the dog (he’s also the crocodile and pirate Bill Jukes).

Brent Barrett plays both the blustering Mr. Darling and the villain Captain Hook. His louche, languorous pirate, closer to Jack Sparrow than Long John Silver, is extremely charming, but children will be too busy cheering for Peter to mourn his fate. Afterward they’ll scramble to gather the fallen pixie dust from the carpet.

Adults should consider grabbing a handful for themselves. Maybe it won’t confer eternal youth, but it can’t hurt.

“Peter Pan,” La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 24. $35-$50. (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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Plenty of fairy dust left in 'Peter Pan'

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TAMPA — You've got to hand it to Cathy Rigby. Sure, the former Olympic gymnast is pushing 60, but she's still more thrilling when airborne than the other iconic Peter Pans of recent generations— Mary Martin (a mere 47 when she last performed the role in 1960) and Sandy Duncan — and she's no slouch as an actor-singer, either. In fact, you could argue that from a purely theatrical standpoint, Rigby, with her husky voice and muscular build, is better suited to play the tomboy from Neverland who never wanted to grow up.

Peter Pan is an ideal first musical for kids, and the touring show that opened Tuesday night at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts does not disappoint, right from the pleasantly old-fashioned overture. The score (with no fewer than five lyricists and composers credited) is well served by a decent-sized orchestra, conducted by Keith Levenson. Nor have producers (Rigby and her husband, Tom McCoy) stinted on supporting talent. The cast features Broadway star Tom Hewitt as that delightfully villainous Restoration fop, Captain Hook, and Krista Buccellato as a sweetly self-possessed Wendy Darling, whom Peter spirits away from Edwardian London to be a "mother" to the Lost Boys.

Rigby's supreme athleticism is on display as Peter announces himself in the spunky ballad, I Gotta Crow, her rendition punctuated by a cartwheel, handstand, flip and other acrobatic feats. And it is an exhilarating moment when the sprite in green tights and the Darling children, having been sprinkled with fairy dust and thinking lovely thoughts, take off for their aerial quartet in I'm Flying, zooming out the nursery window and upward to the "second star on the right, and straight on till morning." The speed and intricate movement of Rigby's flying is breathtaking.

Hewitt's Hook never fails to amuse, especially in his rousing number as "the swiniest swine in the world." There's a touch of droll camp to Hook's rebuke to his men — "You'd think you never waltzed on a pirate ship before" — that is priceless.

Director Glenn Casale and choreographer Patti Colombo staged this revival, and they have done a good job of capturing the spirit of the 1954 original, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. The Robbins stamp is notably evident in the character of Tiger Lily, the dancey Indian warrior played by Jenna Wright. Ugg-a-Wugg, the percussion duet for Tiger Lily and Peter at the opening of Act 2, is a blast.

One of the witty aspects of Peter Pan is how several actors have multiple roles (as in J.M. Barrie's original play). Not only does the excellent Kim Crosby play Mrs. Darling, but she is also the grown-up Wendy and the Mermaid. In addition to Hook, Hewitt plays Mr. Darling. Clark Roberts portrays both the red-eyed Crocodile and the Darling family's nursemaid dog, Nana.

While kids love the playful, innocent, joyous antics of Peter Pan, adults relate to the emotional tug of the ending, when Wendy can't return to Neverland with Peter. Now "ever so much more than 20," with a daughter of her own, she's too old.

John Fleming can be reached at or (727) 893-8716.

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'Peter Pan,' Rigby soar at Straz Center

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By Cloe Cabrera

If Peter Pan really is ageless, so is Cathy Rigby.

It must be the fairy dust.

The 58-year-old mother of two made the audience at the David A. Straz Jr.Center for the Performing Arts believe Tuesday she really is Peter Pan, soaring, tumbling, and turning cartwheels and doing splits as the mischievous boy who refuses to grow up.

"She still looks wonderful." "I can't believe she can still play Peter Pan." "Mom, is she old?" were all comments heard while exiting Tuesday's first performance.

It's obvious Peter Pan is a role Rigby relishes, and she still fits into it nicely. Rigby has played the perpetual pubescent boy since 1990 on Broadway, earning a Tony Award nomination. She's repeating her performance here through Sunday.

The latest production is an entertaining adaptation of J.M. Barrie's timeless tale of Pan and his band of lost boys, with pirates, fairies, Indians, a crocodile and three children along on the adventure.

There are warm, comfy backdrops and a generous share of popular songs such as "Neverland," "I'm Flying" and "I Won't Grow Up."

Assisted by wires, Rigby charmed the crowd flying through the air as Peter, singing, dancing and mesmerizing the young and young at heart in the audience. She even imitates the mannerisms and voice of a young boy.

Her performance drew lots of applause, and deservedly so.

But her supporting cast is equally as talented.

Tom Hewitt shines in dual roles, as the dry, dead pan Mr. Darling and as the comically flamboyant Captain Hook.

The Darling children: John (Cade Canon Ball), Michael (Julia Massey and Jordyn Davis) and Wendy (Krista Buccellato), are just darling, and offer sweet performances. And they can sing.

Oh, and then there's Tinker Bell. Played by a glowing, musical high-teach laser beam that entices the audience to believe she's real. Peter even gets the audience to help bring her back to life with chants of "I believe" after she deliberately drinks poison to save his life.

The first act is barely 45 minutes before intermission. The second act is slightly longer. The entire show comes in at less than two hours, which is long enough to be entertaining, but short enough to hold your attention until the end, which is worth it to see Rigby soar above your head and sprinkle you with fairy dust.

"Peter Pan" continues through Sunday at the Straz Center.


When: through Nov. 13; 7:30 p.m. tonight, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Morsani Hall, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa; call (813) 229-7827 or visit

Tickets: $38.50-$79.50

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Scribe flies across stage at Hanover

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WORCESTER — Please excuse me for a moment while I shake the fairy dust out of my hair.

The silvery Mylar flakes actually are a stage prop used for many years by musical star and former U.S. gymnastic champion Cathy Rigby in her much-loved stage production of "Peter Pan."

The show stopped at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts this weekend, and yesterday I had a chance to "fly" just like Rigby after a raffle winner canceled at the last minute.

Before I was hoisted above the stage a few hours prior to the afternoon matinee, I chatted with the charming and seemingly ageless star, who gave me a few tips about the tethered stage flying she has been doing for three decades as Peter Pan.

Rigby advised me to make swimming motions to correct my spin and keep me facing the audience. And to arch my back while in the air. Oh yes, and to scatter the fairy dust with gracefully playful movements, like the mischievous magical boy who refuses to grow up.

I was soon strapped into an unflattering harness. Before I had a chance to get overly nervous, Rigby's two veteran backstage "flyers," Paul Rubin and Jimmy Little, launched me about 25 feet up and reeled me out via their two controlling wires at about 15 mph. Rigby hits considerably higher speeds and also does somersaults.

I let out a whoop. Make that many whoops.

I know I looked ridiculous with my furious swimming, but the stage guys told me I was effective in stabilizing my spin and remaining mostly forward.

The gorgeously renovated Hanover hall, with its tiered seating rows and glamorous lighting, looked fabulous at altitude. I could hear the sparse audience of Hanover employees, Peter Pan stagehands and my neighbor and her sister snickering at my unintentionally comical poses.

It takes a lot of core strength to do this night after night as Rigby does. For me, 53, a tennis hacker and weekend skier who never had much core strength in the first place, it put a bit of a strain on the old body.

As for Rigby, I seriously doubt whether there are many 58-year-olds as fit — or as charming — as she.

"It's very exciting to watch someone go up for the first time," she told me. "It's beautiful. It's absolutely wonderful."

Rigby said the trick is to hold her core tight to make the flying look effortless. She spends about eight minutes per show in the air, and she's weighed down with costuming and audio gear. That takes stamina.

By comparison, I spent some five seconds up there and was exhausted.

"She's got perfect balance," explained Mr. Rubin, her chief flyer and aerial choreographer, who has directed flying for stage, movies and television for 20 years. "She keeps us eternally young."

"I don't get queasy," Rigby said. "It has a lot to do with gymnastics."

Speak for yourself, Cathy, I thought to myself.

While generally unafraid of heights, I avoid roller coasters, and the swooping, swinging action of stage flying was a little unsettling.

Just a little, though. It was a blast.

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Players make 107-year-old 'Peter Pan' fresh, fun

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WORCESTER — If the producers of the current national tour of the musical "Peter Pan" starring Cathy Rigby could bottle up and sell the magic dust that makes this such a hugely enjoyable show, one suspects that most of the 1,400 people at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts last night would willingly stand in line to get some.

After all, this production may very well have the found the secret of staying forever young.

Who knows what people were expecting before "Peter Pan" opened a five-performance run at The Hanover Theatre on Friday, but the facts were/are that this is a 57-year-old musical based on a 107-year-old play, starring a 58-year-old who has played the title role more than 1,000 times. Furthermore, the Friday performance started an hour late.

But the show came across as fresh and as fun as it must have when it was full of the joys of its 1954 spring starring the first musical Peter Pan, the legendary Mary Martin.

Rigby now is no less a legend as Peter Pan, but there was no resting in the harness Friday night. Rigby had all the right moves. Besides amazingly still being able to look the part, she played and sang with appreciable earnestness and conviction. You really do believe that she is a boy who won't grow up. With a boyish accent that suggests someone from not far from the famed Bow Bells in London, Rigby made the handstands and summersaults that Peter Pan spontaneously falls into seem a natural part of the character and not something put on display for people to "ooh" and "aah" over.

That said, the aerial display as Rigby flew through the air with seemingly the greatest of ease proved to be ooh- and aah-worthy.

Since this is a show that takes people to Neverland (or Never Never Land, depending maybe on what mood you're in) this "Peter Pan" was literally out of this world. Credit the director, Glenn Casale, choreographer Patti Colombo and a very good cast for making the spirits soar in such a captivating fashion. This could not have been achieved without extremely high production standards, and the show looks and sounds terrific, with superb sets and lighting (especially the light beam for Tinker Bell) and excellent (with the quality electronically enhanced) music and singing.

Even the opening scene in the nursery of the Darling residence — an Edwardian home with three children (and a clownishly performed dog) — was performed crisply, yet also endearingly. "Peter Pan" is not a musical treasure trove, but the first song, "Tender Shepherd" is very charming and sweet and was engagingly rendered.

Peter Pan, in search of his lost shadow (a bit of plot device that could overshadow things but is mercifully forgotten about after a while) finds it in the Darling nursery, and offers a trip to the world of Neverland as a thank you to the Darling children, Wendy, John and Michael.

There, the fun and games are ever-ongoing between Peter Pan's friends, Indians and a motley crew of pirates.

Tom Hewitt, whom we had first seen as the patriarchal Mr. Darling, emerged in Neverland as Captain Hook, leader of the pirates, and had a great time showing his character's vanity and buffoonery. Krista Buccellato is a real find as the young Wendy, performing and singing the role impeccably. Kim Crosby's extensive theatrical experience helps give some heft to things as she plays Mrs. Darling and an older Wendy. On the exotic side of the ledger, Jenna Wright was an appropriately dazzling Tiger Lily, and all the pirate's henchmen got into the right mood as Captain Hook's incompetent sycophants.

The set piece songs and dances almost never failed to bring a smile to one's face with their brisk and skillful renderings combined with good humor.

The only pan that might be offered for "Peter Pan" was when the good times seemed to be too much of a good thing at the expense of the usual discipline. The fight scenes, in contrast to the dance numbers, are not the show's strength. In that regard, the end of the first act was energetic but also messy to the point that you almost lost the plot.

It should perhaps be noted that some of the Captain Hook sequences have a little bit of violence. But really, nothing to keep the kids home for. Meanwhile, there is a sort of philosophical point being made in the musical about growing up and adulthood (somewhat ironically if you were ever to delve into J. M. Barrie's personal life), but this show doesn't spend much energy on it.

Everybody's too busy enjoying themselves. Rigby looks as if she's having the time of her life.

Friday's show started at an hour when many boys and girls should have been home in bed, because one of the company's buses broke down en route to Worcester. Happily, it was the only breakdown to speak of as "Peter Pan" went up and away.

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Rigby wows as 'Peter Pan' in Broadway Theatre League season opener

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October 26, 2011 — Barb Van Atta Reviewed by Barb Van Atta

Poor Peter Pan, his name much maligned now by women describing immature partners and mates. There's really something gentle and bittersweet about the original Peter. Disappointed early in life by the callousness of adults, he clings to the black-and-white, all right-or-all wrong simplicity of childhood. And, don't we all sometimes wish our lives were as simple as they seemed to be when we were young? It's that timelessness of theme that makes the musical Peter Pan appeal to generation after generation, and it's the timeless talent of Cathy Rigby that makes performances such as those being presented this week by Broadway Theatre League so wonderful.

Rigby is 58 and a grandma, but she retains the athleticism of her youth as an Olympic gymnast. Couple that with her talents as dancer, actress, singer and – as proved in Act II – percussionist, and audience members quickly understand why the program cover says "Cathy Rigby IS (not as) Peter Pan." She is the embodiment of J.M. Barrie's "Boy Who Would Not Grow Up." Over two decades in the role, starting with a Tony-nominated revival, she has honed her characterization through posture and mannerisms, with her petite frame adding to the illusion.

And, of course, she can "fly." I got dizzy just watching her sail back and forth above The Forum stage last night (Tues., Oct. 25). And here's the thing: I know, you know and perhaps even the youngest child in the audience knows that it takes a lot more than just "happy thoughts" and those handfuls of sparkling "fairy dust" to get actors aloft, but the stagecraft here is amazing. Rigby parades all around the stage, seemingly with "no strings attached," yet, when called upon, rises aloft again. Even more amazing: There never seems to be a moment when any wires are attached to Wendy, Michael and John before they too are soaring and singing the joyous "I'm Flying." It really is magical.

This is, of course, Rigby's show… literally — she and her husband, Tom McCoy, are the executive producers of the national tour — but she is ably supported by her costars, some of whom bring with them their own list of Broadway credentials. Tom Hewitt, as the flustered Mr. Darling and the foppish Captain Hook, is a delight, particularly in the song-and-dance numbers ("A Princely Scheme," "Another Princely Scheme" and "Hook's Waltz") with his pirate crew (and back-up band). Kim Crosby (Cinderella in the original company of Sondheim's Into the Woods) brings a strong voice and a melancholy dignity to Mrs. Darling and, later, to the grown-up Wendy.

Because this is a touring production, there is a lot of doubling (even tripling) up on roles, beyond the traditional Mr. Darling/Captain Hook combination. Crosby also is a mermaid; Carly Bracco is both Tootles, a Lost Boy, and Wendy's daughter, Jane; ensemble members serve as both pirates and Indians. Jenna Wright, when not dancing up a storm as the lithe and lovely Tiger Lily, dons the prim and proper costume of the Darlings' household maid, Liza. A particular audience favorite is Clark Roberts who, in addition to dancing and singing the role of pirate Bill Jukes, charms and amuse as the two costumed animal characters: Nana, the Darlings' devoted canine nanny, and Hook's nemesis, the grinning, waving, ticking crocodile.

A gender-bender like Rigby, 9-year-old Julia Massey brings a sweet charm to Michael, the youngest Darling child and, like 10-year-old Cade Canon Ball (John Darling), is a solid singer and actor. Krista Buccellato, making her Equity debut, has a good decade on Wendy but ably portrays the girl's blend of innocence and burgeoning womanhood. Another strong musician, Buccellato also manages to avoid the prissiness that could bubble up as Wendy plays "mother" to the Lost Boys.

A longtime fan of the Mary Martin TV broadcast, I thought I knew the show rather well. All day I hummed such well-known melodies as "Tender Shepherd," "I Gotta Crow," "Neverland" and "I Won't Grow Up." Apparently, though, dance numbers weren't on my radar as a child. Therefore, I was taken by surprise by the dazzling production number that opens Act II. Patti Colombo's choreography of "Ugg-a-Wugg," a celebration of an alliance between the Indians and the Lost Boys, is part ballet, part jazz dance and part Stomp percussion fest. Rigby and Wright exuberantly lead their tribes with the aid of an onstage kettle drum and some nifty back-and-forth with the touring orchestra's percussionist, Tommy Bradford.

Audience members born in the era of fiber optics and body mics may not realize how complicated the production values are in a show such as Peter Pan, which features several sets, a sky of twinkling stars and, of course, that inquisitive ball of light, Tinkerbell. Although there were a couple of glitches (and some moments of feedback and singer/orchestra imbalance), the opening night performance, before a nearly full Forum, went very well. Jaded teens were as charmed as the tykes and enthusiastically joined in the well-deserved standing ovation.

There are 7 p.m. performances today (Wed., Oct. 26) and Thursday (Oct. 27) at The Forum, 236 Washington St., Binghamton. For ticket information, visit, or call (607) 778-1369.

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Photo of the Day: Rigby Is Peter Pan

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Peter Pan never grows old and it seems that Cathy Rigby doesn't either! The former gymnast who played the role of Peter Pan for over 30 years on Broadway beginning in 1974 will do another star turn in "Cathy Rigby Is Peter Pan" at The Theater at Madison Square Garden from December 14th to 30th 2011. Agile and ageless, Rigby will turn 59 on December 12th, two days before the run begins.

On Monday, October 24th, she charmed a group of kids from The Garden of Dreams Foundation who visited MSG to hear her read an excerpt from J.M Barrie's classic novel about her title character. The Foundation is an MSG non-profit charity that creates events and activities aimed at brightening the lives of special children and their families in partnership with hospitals, foster organizations, homeless shelters, and "wish" groups. Since its inception in 2006, Garden of Dreams has created once-in-a-lifetime experiences at The Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the MSG Training Center, Fuse, and the Beacon Theatre for over 185,000 children facing obstacles. We're sure that for those kids who met Rigby on Monday, the occasion was a highlight of their young lives

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Former Gymnast (and Grandma) Cathy Rigby Reprises Peter Pan (Again)

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Wow! Talk about a comeback. Former gymnast Cathy Rigby, who is now unbelievably a grandmother, is back asPeter Pan in the eponymous musical 38 years after she originally donned the green tights. She retired from the role in 2005 after a prior farewell tour but like Yul Bryner in theKing and I it seems she was born to play this part. The latesttour is scheduled through Christmas 2011 with final performances at New York's Madison Square Garden. There is a possibility the show may return to Broadway in 2012.

The always petite and youthful looking Rigby had a successful gymnastics career decades ago and was credited with helping popularize the sport in the United States. Her participation in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, as a pig-tailed 15 year-old and highest-scoring U.S. gymnast, made her a favorite with television audiences and an inspiration to young girls in gyms across America. She was the first U.S. gymnast to win a medal in international competition and she captured the silver on balance beam at the 1970 World Championships. Throughout her gymnastics career, she won numerous accolades (including eight gold medals) and went to the Olympics a second time in 1972.

Rigby was barely out of her teens the first time she attached herself to a wire and flew off a stage to do battle with the evil Capt. Hook. After retiring from gymnastics, Rigby joined a Disney-produced arena performance of the James Barrie's children's classic.  Since 1990,  she has starred in the stage version ofPeter Pan, making four stops on Broadway and garnering four Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical. Previous productions of Peter Pan starring Rigby have grossed over $200 million dollars in ticket sales. Rigby estimates she has flown to Neverland nearly 3,000 times, surpassing Mary Martin for the greatest number of performances

So how does a 58 year-old former athlete and grandmother of two get ready to play a 10-year-old boy for eight performances a week?

Rigby says she prepared for the role by first hiring a trainer to get in shape. The 4-foot-11-inch Rigby, who has battled bulimia and anorexoria, has changed little from the time she first began playing Peter Pan in 1974. She's still trim and muscular and as a member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, she is not your typical 50-something taking on a physically demanding role.

"It probably played a huge part in me believing that you can do anything — you can, at 58, play Peter Pan," Rigby said. "I've learned that if you work at something to your full potential, there's no reason to believe you can't reach your best full potential. I know that sounds like a big motivational speech, but I really believe that.

In reprising her role, Rigby could look to other champion athletes for motivation — including long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who tried to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Miami at age 61 (but was forced to abandoned the effort halfway).

Ultimately, Rigby looked to her mom, a polio survior who never let physical challenges get in her way,  for inspiration.

"I will have to work harder at being the best I can be than someone who's 20 years old. But I'm willing to do that, and the great thing is I have experience on my side and know when to breathe, know when to dance and know when to attack a dance. There's a confidence that comes with age that allows you to be better and more fresh when you do things."

Peter Pan may be the boy who won't grow up — and although he actress who has played him  for 30 years finally has - Rigby has no intention of acting her age.Great news for a whole new generation of children who will now be able to see her flying high in the classic musical.


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Cathy Rigby lends athletic prowess to 'Peter Pan'

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By Tedrin Blair Lindsay

Contributing theater critic

A charming production of Peter Pan has flown into Lexington for the weekend to open the Broadway Live season at the Lexington Opera House.

It is a faithful revival of the same version that served first Mary Martin, then Sandy Duncan and later Cathy Rigby as a suitably gamine vehicle for their irrepressible stage charisma. Rigby's own production company is responsible for this latest tour as a farewell performance in the role for the Olympic gymnast-turned-Broadway musical star.

Amazingly, at age 58, Rigby's performance as Peter Pan does not require that much suspension of disbelief by the audience. Martin might have been a better singer and Duncan a better actress, but Rigby, with her athletic prowess and compact build, is the most credible as a boy, and her acrobatic expertise gives her an aggressive authority in the thrilling aerial stunts.

This show, which premiered in 1954, has never been considered a great musical. The score by several songwriters — including the legendary Jule Styne, who was brought in before the show reached New York to add some sparkle — is uneven, and the script adapted from J.M. Barrie's novel is so undistinguished that no author has ever been credited. Those weaknesses continue to mar this musical.

However, its strength has always been its reliance on wondrous stagecraft to bring Neverland to life. The magic of theater casts a strong spell in this production, too, from the exhilarating flying effects to the imaginatively high-tech Tinkerbell. The stage pictures are saturated in storybook colors and swirling activity on busy, pretty sets. The fight choreography is full of action, and the vigorous enthusiasm of the extended dance number Ugg-a-Wugg at the beginning of the second act, in which the Lost Boys and the Indians forge a truce to unite against the Pirates, brought down the house on Friday's opening night.

As one of the producers, Rigby has seen to it that the secondary parts are well rendered. Tom Hewitt is hilariously befuddled as Mr. Darling, and he makes a raffishly droll Captain Hook. The Darling children, Wendy (Krista Buccellato), John (Cade Canon Ball) and Michael (Julia Massey), are winsome and bring enough individuality to their characterizations that they do not get lost in the constant stage motion. Buccellato also has a lovely singing voice, and Jenna Wright makes an energetic and sexy Tiger Lily.

One of the best performances in this show is given by Clark Roberts as both the family dog Nana and the Crocodile, Captain Hook's nemesis. He works the fabulous but challenging costumes with bounding physicality and humor.

The orchestra, led by musical director Keith Levenson, consists of a core group of musicians who tour with the company, supplemented by some of the finest instrumentalists in Lexington. The result is a full sound from the pit, lending further luster to this quality professional production.


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Elation flies on Peter Pan tour

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USA - McCoy-Rigby's recently-launched national tour of Peter Pan hit the road with all-new lighting rig, supplied by Pacific Coast Entertainment (Huntington Beach, CA).

Working with the show's lighting designer Michael Gilliam, PCE put together a complement of automated spot, wash and specialty fixtures that included Elation Professional's DesignWash 1400E 1,200-watt DMX moving head wash and Power Spot 700 CMY-II 700-watt DMX moving head spot.

The tour, which will run through 2013, marks a reprisal of the production, starring Tony Award-nominee Cathy Rigby in the title role of this classic tale about a boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up. Olympic gymnast-turned-actor Rigby, who co-owns the production company with her husband Tom McCoy, has been playing Peter Pan since the early 1990s.

"This show is a juggernaut," said PCE's Ryan Steidinger. "It just continues to power on. Cathy continues to fly across the stage. Like Peter Pan himself, the story never gets old and still draws people of all ages."

But lighting design and technology have changed over the past 20 years, and the set of the iconic show needed an updated look; thus the creation of the new rig. "This is the first time Pan has gone on national tour with this many moving heads," said Steidinger. "All of the down light on stage is created with moving heads." The makeover has gone over exceptionally well, he reported. "The producers told me it's the best lighting they've ever had for the show."

Included are 14 Elation Design Wash 1400E and 16 Power Spot 700 CMY II. Both fixtures feature full-colour CMY mixing. The 1200-watt Design Wash 1400E operates on 17 DMX channels and includes variable CTO colour correction. The Power Spot 700 CMY II is equipped with two gobo wheels, a replaceable animation wheel (four extra animation wheels included), variable speed strobe, mechanical Dimming system 0-100%, iris and frost effect. Six Elation Opto Branch 4 DMX splitters are also being used, mounted on a rack that sits on top of the dimmer rack.

The Elation moving heads were chosen because they offered cost-effective solutions for the automated spots and washes, said Steidinger. "With the economy the way it is, the show was on a very tight budget. We worked hard to find fixtures that would provide the most bang for the buck, and Elation delivers tremendous value."

(Jim Evans)

(20 September 2011)


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The musical Peter Pan was a hit at the Civic Center Music Hall Wednesday night. The childhood classic was led by former gymnast and actress Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan as she flew through the windows of the Darling children's nursery.  All the familiar parts of the childhood classic were in place as Peter and the children flew off into a starry night to Never Never land.

The original Broadway performances were a musical production of the play by Sir James Barrie, and based on the original Broadway  production conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Lyrics were by Carolyn Leigh, additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Moose Charlap, and additional music by Jule Styne.

Cathy Rigby, the highest scoring American gymnast at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, is as flexible as ever, and entranced the Darling children and the audience with great flying.  Her acting was well supported by Tom Hewitt as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook.  Kim Crosby was a good Mrs. Darling and adult Wendy.  The Darling children were played by Krista Buccellato, Cade Canon Ball, and Julia Massey /Jordyn Davis}.  The British accent could have been down played at the play's beginning.  No Peter Pan would have been complete without the very maternal Nana (Clark Roberts) and the Crocodile (Clark Roberts) with his gleaming red eyes.

The dancing, choreographed by Patti Colombo, was great, especially the inclusion of a percussive dance using metal and bass drums, and drumsticks on the floor by the troupe on the stage floor.  The pirates' tango on the ship's deck was wonderful, especially between Smee (James Leo Ryan) and Hook.  Earlier, the Indians' dance included ballet, jazz, and an aerial dance on the silks.

The great sets by John Iacovelli were traditional 1950's – 1960's.  The orchestration by Jules Levinson was good, as was the tour orchestra, but was over-miced in the first part of the play, even over-powering the actors. It was lowered as the play went on. The sound by Julie Ferrin had too much timbre and needed more bass throughout the play.

Peter Pan is the opening show of Celebrity Attractions' season, and will be followed byMemphis on November 8 through 13.

Peter Pan continues at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night, at 7 p.m. Sunday night, and at2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Tickets run from $25 plus fees to $60 plus fees. To buy tickets on line, visit


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Cathy Rigby's 'Peter Pan' opens 2011-2012 Broadway season with SRO, standing ovation

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It's always a thrill to walk into an auditorium to be seated and see the place filled to the rafters. That's the way it was at Tuesday's opening of "Peter Pan" featuring Cathy Rigby. The Broadway touring show of the Emmy-winning and Tony-nominated musical-comedy runs through Sunday at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City. Like its previous sold-out runs through the Sooner State, tickets are going quickly for this one, too.

The crowd was all ages and really into the show. There were even boos and cat-calls, like in a melodrama, when Captain Hook first appeared. To which, the quick Tom Hewitt, shot a look and said, "Oh, grow up!"  the antithesis philosophy of the show's hero. There are tee-shirts for sale in the lobby that read "Never Grow Up  Peter Pan".

Hewitt's Hook was not far removed from Dr. Frank N. Furter of "The Rocky Horror Show", another show he starred in on Broadway. He has villain experience having also had leads in "Dracula" and "Chicago". He proved a crowd-pleaser, receiving applause and laughs for "Pirate March" and Hook's Waltz". Hewitt is also effective as the stern-on-the-outside, but soft-hearted paternal head of the Darling family.

Another ringer in this tour is Kim Crosby. She portrayed Cinderella in the original  "Into the Woods" on Broadway. She proves her worth in "Peter Pan", taking on three diverse roles. She plays Mrs. Darling in the beginning and the adult Wendy at the conclusion. In between she's scary and enticing as the deadly mermaid.

Newcomer Jenna Wright is everything Tiger Lilly is supposed to be. The alluring warrior princess, who rescues Peter and has the favor returned, is a scene-lifting physical presence every time she's on stage. In her first national tour, the Southern California native proves she can act, delivering a memorable portrayal. But it is her dancing that had audience members saying "wow" out loud. From ballet to modern to a Cirque du Soleil-style splits while floating above the stage, Wright is right on with her moves.

One of the highlights of the show opens Act II and involves much of the cast in a dance number that is part "Stomp", part "Footloose" and all Tiger Lily and Peter. Originally choreographed by the great Jerome Robbins, with later updates by Patti Colombo, there is constant movement in "Peter Pan". But the high-energy "Ugg-a-Wugg" is an amazing number featuring an in sync chorus line and drum sticks bouncing on a huge kettle, the walls and the floor. It is an exhaustive show-stopper.

All of the professionalism, all of talent, and all of the entertainment surrounds the one person everyone was there to see  Cathy Rigby.

Rigby is a two-time Olympic gymnast, was the first American woman to medal at the World Gymnastics, and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. She is so good that a multiple-exposure image of her on the balance beam was included on the Voyager Golden Record as an example of the range of human motion. (Some day space aliens will be greatly disappointed when they learn all of us cannot do what Cathy Rigby can do.)

And Rigby does not disappoint her audience in "Peter Pan".

She is youthful in appearance and action; her British accent is perfection; and her boyish obnoxiousness, both charming and hilarious. Her energy seems endless. She clearly loves the role of the forever young boy who refuses to grow up.

Based on the original writings of Sir James M. Barrie, Peter lives on an island in the sky called Neverland. When he is discovered by a girl and her two brothers while searching for the shadow he lost, he convinces them to return with him to join the Lost Boys of his home. After all they need a mother and Wendy know lots of stories to tell them. Fun as it may be, there are dangers all around. Pirates, a voracious crocodile, and at least two other females who see Wendy as competition for Peter's affections  local Indian hottie Tiger Lily and Tinkerbelle, a precocious fairy (played with great emotion by a spot of light).

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Cathy Rigby enthralls in "Peter Pan" – stellar supporting cast bring classic tale to life

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Story by Patrick B. McGuigan on September 15, 2011 . Click on author name to view all articles by this author. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

by Patrick B. McGuigan

Executive Editor

In "Peter Pan," Cathy Rigby continues the long tradition of middle aged women portraying an adolescent boy whose adventures have thrilled generations of lads. The fine traveling Broadway Show, at Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall through this weekend, was superior live entertainment.

After two decades in this role, Rigby fits it like a glove. Children and adults alike were enthralled with her opening night performance on Tuesday (September 13). The Olympic gymnast gave it her all, in acrobatic flying sequences, muscular dance performances and believable exchanges with other characters.

The story begins in one generation of the Darling family, led by Father (Tom Hewitt) and Mother (Kim Crosby), then jumps ahead at the end to find Crosby onstage again portraying the next generation's mother.

In musical form, adapted from the James Barrie play, the show provides something for everyone: adolescent longing, adult wisdom, the tug of first love, the joy of untrammeled liberty, and the affirmation of responsibility. Barrie's writing endures because it speaks to every generation.

Gentle ballads include "Tender Shepherd," the night-time prayers of the Darling family children in Nineteenth Century London, and the second's act "Distant Melody," a lovely duet shared by Peter Pan and Wendy Darling (Krista Buccallato), the girl Peter Pan takes to "Neverland" to become mother for the Lost Boys.

Story-propelling solos come from Rigby ("I Gotta Crow," "Neverland," "I Won't Grow Up"), supplemented by deft ensembe pieces ("I'm Flying," "Ugg-a Wugg") and other numbers.

Supporting cast members match Rigby's incredible energy and delivery. Of special note, Jenna Wright's Tiger Lily and Tom Hewitt's Captain Hook garner stage center repeatedly in powerful performances. Wendy's siblings were portrayed by Cade Canon Ball as John, and Julia Massey (Jordan Davis in some shows) as Michael.

"Peter Pan" is just the first installment in a fabulous 2011-12 season from Celebrity Attractions. Upcoming productions at Civic Center Music Hall include the musical "Memphis" in its first visit to Oklahoma City, performing November 8-13 at Civic Center. Coming January 17-22 is "The Addams Family" musical comedy based on the classic television show. The percussion masterpiece "Stomp" hits town March 13, 18, and the regular season wraps up May 1-6 with "Fiddler on the Roof."

A couple of "add-on" productions from Celebrity Attractions will also find strong local audiences. Girls Night will come October 17-20 to the Bruce Owen Theater at Oklahoma City Community College. The beloved musical "Mamma Mia!," will have a February 15-18 engagement at Civic Center.

Tickets for the show can be found here: on all the upcoming shows is available from


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Mommy-son date night

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Tuesday night Addison and I had a double date with a mommy friend of mine and her son.  We went to the Civic Center in OKC to see Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan.  I don't know what I we expecting but this performance far exceeded my expectations.  Cathy Rigby has still got it going on.  During the first scene set in the nursery she was bouncing and tumbling around the stage, balancing on top of things, showing off how flexible she is all the while being a perfect Peter Pan.  I kept thinking to myself, "When is she going to get hooked up to cables.  She is going to have to go off stage or have some discrete stage hand hook her up." When out of nowhere she took flight and what a flight it was!  Cathy's acrobatic skills combined with the Flight Director who controlled the cables made for one very impressive flight sequence.  Addison sat in rapt silence while his friend nearly hit the roof with excitement.

At intermission I was afraid the boys would be too tired to carry on through the second act.  On the contrary they were raring to go and were impatient for intermission to be over so they could see what was to come.

At the top of the second act Peter, Wendy, the Lost Boys and the Indians did an incredible dance number.  It combined dancing and percussion that kept getting faster and more frenzied until the audience was left cheering.  The boys thought it was hilarious that the song they sang during that number is called Ugg-a-Wugg.

The pirates added quite a bit of comical release as well as an exciting sword fight between Hook and Peter.  Addison's friend who was with us is really into pirates right now so he could hardly contain himself with all the sword play.

When I got home and regaled Dear Husband with the highlights he couldn't believe that we got to see Cathy Rigby.  He remembers seeing her as Peter Pan in the 90′s and remembers her best as an olympic and world-class gymnast from the 70′s.  The 70′s!

Thank you to Celebrity Attractions for bringing Cathy Rigby to Oklahoma City!  Here's what they have to say about the show:

September 13-18, 2011 Civic Center Music Hall

Tony® Award nominee Cathy Rigby takes flight in an all new production of PETER PAN! Discover the magic all over again of this two time Emmy award winning and two time Tony® Award nominated production. The New York Times says "Rigby still carries off the flights, fights and acrobatics that make PETER PAN audiences mesmerized." PETER PAN is filled with timeless magical moments and a captivating hook. The legend you know, is now the adventure you never dreamed possible… Cathy Rigby is PETER PAN!

Cathy Rigby is PETER PAN comes to the Civic Center Music Hall now through Sunday, September 18th. Tickets range from $25-$60 (plus handling fees) and may be purchased via phone (800) 869-1451, in person at the Civic Center Music Hall Box Office or online

If you have been thinking of introducing your little one musical theatre, Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan is the perfect place to start! Theater Review: 'Peter Pan' Continues to Enchant Back to Article

Published: September 14, 2011
To some degree, most theatrical productions ask viewers to suspend reality for a couple of hours as they enter a world that might be enchanted, surreal or downright silly. "Peter Pan" is a perfect example of the first category, a musical about a boy who can fly, an illuminated fairy that accompanies him on his travels and a villain who's stalked by an insatiable crocodile.

But from the moment Peter Pan first flies through the Darling family's nursery window, Sir James Barrie's story casts a spell that is alternately poignant, humorous, captivating and endlessly inventive. Few musicals can make such a bold claim.

"Oklahoma!" aside, I've probably seen "Peter Pan" more than just about any musical in the repertory. And while the list of musicals I'd rather not sit through one more time gets progressively longer, "Peter Pan" rarely fails to work its magic on me.

Why, you might ask after reading about the implausible nature of its narrative? The answer is really quite simple: "Peter Pan" is a story with heart. Moreover, it conveys other attributes in the subtlest of fashions: humility, friendship, nostalgia, joy, humor, poignancy and love.

Jean Arthur, Mary Martin and Sandy Duncan all earned praise for their portrayals of Peter Pan, but it's safe to say that Cathy Rigby has owned the role outright since her first tour in 1990. The former Olympic gymnast is once again playing the boy who wouldn't grow up in a new production that opens Celebrity Attractions' 2011-12 season.

While Rigby's portrayal of Peter Pan is this production's obvious selling point, she's surrounded herself with first-rate talent in secondary and tertiary roles. Julia Flores' marvelous casting includes a fine Tiger Lily (Jenna Wright) who makes a strong first impression leading the band of Indians in the aptly titled number of the same name.

But she's finer still in "Ugg-a-Wugg," a wildly elaborate number she shares with Rigby that often threatens to overpower its musical material yet succeeds because of its energy and Patti Colombo's inventive choreography.

Kim Crosby and Tom Hewitt bring sufficient Victorian propriety to their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Darling, Clark Roberts conveys considerable humor in the nonspeaking role of Nana the dog, and James Leo Ryan is memorable as Captain Hook's sidekick Smee.

Krista BuccellatoJulia Massey and Cade Canon Ball bring youthful abandon to Wendy, Michael and John, the Darling siblings who embark on some wild adventures after Peter Pan teaches them to fly. Still, I found it odd that a girl was cast as Michael. Were there really no young boys who could handle the part?

In one of the show's many doublings, Hewitt takes full advantage of Captain Hook's pompous nature and commanding presence with equal parts bravado and vocal confidence. In numbers ranging from the tango to the tarantella, Hewitt is brilliant as a modern-day swashbuckler.

Those who achieve acclaim in unrelated professions — gymnastics in Rigby's case — rarely make the transition into theater and find similar success. But through persistence and considerable vocal training, Rigby has rightfully earned the respect of critics and audiences alike.

Rigby delights in Peter's inquisitiveness in the Darling nursery and also with his occasional impertinence. But Rigby is no less captivating in the show's quieter moments. Only the most jaded theatergoer wouldn't be touched when Peter bids Wendy, Michael, John and the Lost Boys farewell as they prepare to leave Neverland. Shakespeare did have it right: Parting is such sweet sorrow.

In more than 40 years of theatergoing, I've learned that emotional responses can't be coerced. A story either moves you or it doesn't. Thanks to brilliant flying routines and Rigby's heartfelt renditions of "Neverland" and "Distant Melody," "Peter Pan" accomplishes a rare thing in a theatrical climate more interested in spectacle and reality-based narratives: It reminds us that good storytelling is crucial to a show's success. Go experience the magic.

— Rick Rogers

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'Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan' national tour review

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - Out and About OKC by Jason Black

The classic story of Peter Pan is once again on a national tour and was in Oklahoma City for its latest stop. Olympic gymnastics legend and Broadway veteran Cathy Rigby reprises the title character role.

The story of the boy that doesn't want to grow up ,like its protagonist, doesn't get old. Peter Pan shows up one night in the nursery of the Darling's.  A little fairy dust, some tinking around by Tinkerbell and Peter and the kids are flying off to Neverland.

There they are met by the Lost Boys who don't want to grow up either. Conversely, Captain Hook is waiting for Peter along with his minions.

Captain Hook, played by Tom Hewitt, plays the part for laughs. He and his hired goons have dance breaks and an ensemble comedic timing.

The best number of the show "Ugg-a-Wugg" with the cast dancing and drumming.

But the show belongs to Rigby. Her gymnastics background bring a new element to the old character. She plays the role boyishly, while doing handstands and other gymnastic moves. She is a master in the harness, flying all over the stage, twisting, turning and throwing fairy dust.

If you have seen this before do yourself a favor and see it again while Rigby is in the role. She brings an energy and a new take.

Jason Black is a regular sports contributor on America's Morning News and America's Radio News. Coincidently, or not, he also does movie reviews for KJ103 and102.1 Kissin' Country. You can also follow Jason on Twitter @jasonblack23.


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Cathy Rigby takes flight again Tuesday in OKC as 'Peter Pan'

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9/11/2011 1:30:00 AM


Cathy Rigby surprised everyone when she became the first American woman to medal in world gymnastics. She competed in two Olympics  Mexico City in 1968 and Munich in 1972.

With a rising career in sports announcing, she made jaws drop again when she announced that she was stepping on stage to do musical theater.

When it was thought that no one could top Mary Martin's heralded and long-running stint in "Peter Pan", Rigby revived the musical comedy, winning Tony nominations for the Broadway production and selling out national tours in her more than 3,000 performances in the title role.

A few years ago, something of a farewell tour took place, when she took  "Peter Pan" off the road and Neverland found a permanent home in Branson, Mo. To no one's suprise it became one of that vacation destination's biggest draws.

Then, from out of the blue, Rigby took it back to Broadway, netting even more Tony nominations, and earlier this month she launched "Peter Pan" across the country again.

It opens Tuesday in Oklahoma City for eight, likely to be sold-out, performances.

In a call last week to her hotel in Virginia, where she was preparing to play the Washington, D.C.-area's famed Wolf Trap, she spoke about being on the road again.

"Branson audiences were kind and it was lovely there," Rigby said. "Branson actually inspired me to do another national tour. I realized I had the ability and kind of missed it."

The show has already played Southern California and Hershey, Pa.

"We'll go through December, then take a break, and it'll be about a one-year tour," she said.

"Peter Pan" is scheduled in Madison Square Garden for the 2011 holiday season.

Rigby seems the unlikeliest of champion athletes. In a book she is working on (Cathy Rigby's Stories From Neverland), she reveals that her father was an alcoholic, her mother confined to a wheelchair because of polio, and Rigby herself was born with two collapsed lungs. But she survived, exercised to overcome the health issues which surrounded her, and, at an early age discovered gymnastics.


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Cathy Rigby flies back to Oklahoma City for timeless 'Peter Pan'

BY RICK ROGERS    Comment on this article 0

Published: September 11, 2011

There's an oft-repeated line from the musical "The Will RogersFollies" that likely has great resonance for Cathy Rigby. "Let's go flying," Wiley Post urges his frequent traveling companion Will Rogers.

Rigby, the former Olympic gymnast turned musical theater star, is stepping back into the familiar green tights and tattered leather vest worn by the boy who magically takes flight in the stage musical "Peter Pan."

Having logged more than 3,000 performances as the mischievous but lovable Peter Pan, Rigby thought she had closed that chapter of her musical theater career after her last tour ended in 2006. Five years have passed, and she realized there's another generation of youngsters who have never seen "Peter Pan."

"After a few years, I discovered that I missed it," Rigby said of her fascination with this iconic musical. "The minute you step into Peter's costume, you suddenly become that character and believe that's who you are and that you're ageless."

Flight of fantasy

Much of the show's endless appeal hinges on the flying sequences, from Peter's dramatic entrance through the windows of the Darling family nursery to the subsequent flight to Neverland with Wendy, Michael and John in tow.

"I believe everybody's childhood dream is to fly," Rigby said. "It's something that just captures the imagination of all of us. The adventures that Sir James Barrie wrote more than a century ago are as popular today as they have ever been."

While the flying sequences in "Peter Pan" appear effortless, the technical wizardry that allows Rigby to take flight is meticulously planned and carefully timed. A missed cue can result in too much velocity or a hard landing. Rigby related a close call she had in Kansas City.

"During a sword fight with Captain Hook, I looked up and realized I was flying too close to the crow's nest of the ship," Rigby said. "I put my hands out to stop myself; the sword ricocheted off the set and sliced me over the eye.

"I ran offstage to get a Band-Aid and came on just in time for the scene in which Michael asks Peter to teach him how to crow. Just as he did, the Band-Aid came off, I started bleeding and told Michael that I couldn't teach him to crow but Tiger Lily would. I finished the show, but it took 15 stitches to close the wound."

Lasting appeal

During a 30-year career in which she has played the title character in "Annie Get Your Gun," Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" and the Cat in the Hat in "Seussical," Rigby said "Peter Pan" never loses its appeal.

"The minute the fairy dust flies out of my hands and I'm up in the air, it's special," Rigby said. "I wish every entrance I made onstage could be this magical. There are a lot of musicals that rely on special effects, but if you don't have a story with a heart, people get bored.

"Sometimes it's the simpler, more direct productions that speak to people. I think 'Peter Pan' is a perfectly written story that has lasted over 100 years, and I hope generations continue to come see it."

Whenever her schedule allows, Rigby partners with charitable organizations and visits hospital pediatric wards to spread a little magic. She always shows up in costume so there's no mistaking that she's portraying Peter Pan.

"I've met some of the most amazing children over the years," Rigby said. "You see the mischievous, feisty kids and the sad ones that have so many health problems. When I greet these kids and their families, it's like getting to be part of a memory-making experience. That's when you know you've been blessed with the best job in the world.

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Broadway Theatre League First Show of the Season - 'Peter Pan'

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Broadway Theatre League

"PETER PAN sparkles with fairy dust!  Rigby has mastered the boy who wouldn't grow up." – Washington Post.

Tony® Award nominee Cathy Rigby takes flight in an all new production of PETER PAN!

Discover the magic all over again of this two time Emmy Award winning and two-time Tony® Award nominated production.

PETER PAN is a unique, family friendly attraction of spectacle and fantasy.The thrill of flying, timeless magical moments and a captivating hook will mesmerize young and old alike.The legend you thought you know, is now the adventure you never dreamed possible…Cathy Rigby is PETER PAN!

Since 1990, PETER PAN starring Cathy Rigby has made 4 stops on Broadway, garnering four Tony® Nominations including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical.  Other credits include the A&E Television Network Premiere of "PETER PAN," which received 4 Emmy Award Nominations and one Emmy Award; "The Historic All Star Concert for Pope John Paul II" at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the award-winning documentary on balancing wellness, titled "Faces of Recovery."

October 25th - 27th

click here for a sneek peek of the show!


THE ROGERS REVUE is the online magazine dedicated to entertainment news and media events surrounding the Washington DC  & Baltimore Metropolitan Areas.

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Peter Pan Flies into Wolf Trap

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This is a fantastic production! It is definitely geared towards children, but the adults will love it too!

It is like a well-oiled machine. Having seen this production years ago, I knew what to expect. Seeing it again, was just as fun and exciting as the first time! Cathy Rigby is phenomenal. She has been performing the title role since 1990, when she did it on Broadway and received rave reviews, including a Tony Award nomination. She embodies Peter. She is such a convincing boy, in a good way. She bounces around the stage, not just as a gymnast, but like a boy who can't sit still and wants to be in to everything. She's perfect; great singer and dancer and contrary to what you might think, she is as fresh as if she just started doing the part this year! I have seen so many actors who, within a year are just going through the motions, but not Cathy Rigby!!

The show around her is very grand. The sets and costumes are movie quality. They are so good, they take you right into the show. The fairy dust is engineered perfectly to glisten in the stage lights. The rest of the cast was assembled to let Peter Pan (Rigby) and Captain Hook (Tony Award winner, Tom Hewitt) shine. Everyone was very talented, in their own right, but on a very even keel, whereas Rigby and Hewitt stood out. I am a HUGE Tom Hewitt fan. I have seen him in every show he has done on Broadway, in the last fifteen years. I didn't know that he was in this production and to his credit, it wasn't until he was "yelling" at Smee that I heard a certain inflection in his voice and realized that it was him. He is a true actor! Everytime I have ever seen him, he is a different person on stage, which is a true testament to his talent!

I highly recommend the McCoy Rigby Entertainment production of Peter Pan. It is definitely a family fun night!! Cathy Rigby recently told, "[The earlier 'farewell' tour was billed as such because] I just wasn't sure where I'd be at this point. As long as I can be believable on stage and I don't have to compromise anything that I've done, we said, 'Let's do it again.' The great thing about Peter Pan is that there is always this new generation of kids — if you wait five or six years, there's always families with new children and kids that are old enough. It just seemed like a bottom-line 'why not?'"

Rigby and her producer husband McCoy, reinvented the script with their collaborators (Director Glenn Casale and Choreographer Patti Colombo) starting in the mid-1990s.

References to Native Americans were lessened and the tribal song "Ugg-a-Wugg" is now a percussion number that is a true delight. Rigby has played more than 3,000 performances of the show. She won an Emmy Award for the TV version of the show (which used elements of the 1999 revival).

Overall Production: A+

Lead Performances: A+ for Rigby and Hewitt

Secondary Characters and Ensemble: A, I would like more stand out performances Venue for Production: A+, although I don't recommend sitting on the lawn, as you will be totally detached from the show and you would have a better view if you watched the DVD.

I have listed the current tour dates below. More 2011 dates, and dates in 2012-13, will be announced.

Oklahoma City, OK (Civic Center Music Hall) Sept. 13-18

Jackson, MS (Thalia Mara Hall) Sept. 20-22

Lexington, KY (Lexington Opera House) Sept. 23-25

Binghamton, NY (Forum Theatre) Oct. 25-27

Worchester, MA (Hanover Theatre) Oct. 28-30

Greenville, SC (Peace Center) Nov. 1-6

Tampa, FL (Tampa Bay PAC) Nov. 8-13

Utica, NY (Stanley PAC) Nov. 15-17

Elmira, NY (Clemens Center) Nov. 18-20

Hartford, CT (Bushnell Center) Nov. 22-27

New York, NY (Theater at MSG) Dec. 14-30

TRR Theatre Revue by Denise A.

  September 2, 2011 By Tim Treanor 1 Comment

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In the days of my youth I, like many of you, took the Peter Pan Pledge: "I won't grow up, I won't grow up/Never gonna go to school…" Regrettably, I neglected to take the Peter Pan Supplemental Pledge: "I won't grow old, I won't grow bald/Never gonna have a mortgage…" Thus I approach the touring production of Peter Pan, playing briefly at Wolf Trap, with the customary emotions adulthood has toward childhood: envy and regret.

Peter Pan has no sympathy for that. It is relentlessly a children's play, with every line of dialogue seemingly followed by an exclamation point and Moose Charlap's simple, somewhat repetitive score delivered with tub-thumping emphasis by a good orchestra, under the hand of musical director Keith Levenson. To a certain extent, the vast spaces of Wolf Trap demand such unsubtlety; it would be hard to imagine, say, Waiting for Godotdone there, or, if produced, enjoyed much by the folks in the lawn chairs hundreds of feet away.

In any event, Peter Pan delivers its gifts at top volume, and is thus ideal for the six-year-old and enjoyable to the ten-year-old. Folks older than that will take their pleasures where they find them. There are some moments which hint at the melancholy which lies behind the story of the little boy who never grows older – which Mabou Mines explored with such startling success in their astonishing 2007 production) – when Peter announces that the lost boys were infants who fell out of their carriages when their nannies weren't looking, and who were thereafter unclaimed for seven days, for example. But by and large the musical, in which Jerome Robbins superimposes music on the original J.M. Barrie script, is light, cheerful and irresistibly upbeat.

The story is so familiar that it need not be retold here, merely invoked. Here it is: mean daddy, sad mama, big dog, Wendy, John and Michael, magic flying boy, Tinkerbell (here played by a beam of light), lost boys who need a mother to tell them stories and mend their pockets, pixie dust, happy thoughts, flying, Neverland, hostile Indians who eventually become allies, hostile pirates who eventually become nemeses, Hook, Smee, crocodile who ate a ticking clock and also Hook's hand, and who wants the rest of him, kidnapping, confrontation, bomb, homesickness, home. Remember?

One of the great pleasures of the piece is watching Cathy Rigby in the title role. There is some irony to the idea that the prepubescent boy who refuses to grow up can be played by a 58-year-old woman, but the thought doesn't stick, so natural does Rigby's performance seem. Rigby was famously a world-class gymnast forty years ago, and to watch her now flying on stage with the help of the nearly-invisible rigging is to get a glimpse of what gymnastics might be like if they were tried in outer space. Her Peter is twitchy with impatience, restlessly somersaulting through the air when the ten-second limitation on his attention span is violated, blunt about his desires and alternately enraged and resigned when they are frustrated. The fact that Rigby is a celebrated athlete, sportscaster, producer and spokesperson may distract us from how fine an actor she is, but she has been doing this role for twenty years, and has been nominated for a Tony for it. She gives us a clear and convincing Peter, and thus a look at how a real little boy might develop, were he bereft of parents, and given superpowers.

Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook, with Wolf Trap cast in background (Photo: Andi Kling, courtesy of Wolf Trap)

Peter is, in fact, the only convincingly real character in the play – the rest are caricatures and plot devices, none more so than his antagonist, the buffoonish Captain Hook (Tom Hewitt). Hewitt has won Tony and Drama Desk nominations for his work as Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and his Hook recalls Tim Curry a little bit – as well as Cyril Ritchard, the incomparable original Hook. Hook is a drama queen, and Hewitt gets every bit of that, stomping around the stage dramatically, sniffling with self-pity, choleric at the thought of Peter and the lost boys, and manic with diabolical glee over his plan to kidnap Wendy and oblige her to play mother to the entire pirate ship. He swings ineffectually at his first mate, the simpering Smee (James Leo Ryan) in frustration, and scampers away as the rouge-eyed crocodile (Clark Roberts, nicely costumed by Shigeru Yaji) hunts him down.

But, Hook or no Hook, there is no conflict in the play. The forces of evil are simply overmatched, and a little clownish to boot. Peter's downfall is brought about not by Hook but by homesickness, which seems to afflict the lost boys all at once, and for no discernible reason other than that two hours have nearly passed, and it is time for everyone to go home.

The modern musical is a pastiche of songs hung on the framework of a story, with brief passages of dialogue to move the plot along and justify each new piece of music. But Peter Pan is decidedly old-school, having immense passages of dialogue interspersed with a few songs (there are seventeen in the two-hour production). Nearly half of the first Act is spent in having Peter tell Wendy (Krista Buccellato), John (Cade Canon Ball) and Michael (Julia Massey, a very good child actor), about the wonders of Neverland, which they in fact experience during the rest of the play.

Some of the music is only tangentially connected with the plot – but that's o.k., since the music is an excuse for the production's best feature, its exquisite choreography (Patti Colombo). The second Act opens with a peace treaty, reached for no visible reason between the Indians and the lost boys. The lyrics which celebrate the treaty is largely in a silly and vaguely offensive made-up Indian language (the song is called "Ugg-a-Wugg") but the lengthy dance passage, led by Tiger Lily (the fantastic dancer Desireè Davar) is fabulous. Indeed, every time the lost boys, the Indians or the pirates (the Indians and the Pirates are played by the same men) kick up their heels, you know you will be in for a good time. The choreography is so good it will leave you wondering why the fight choreography is so lame, with the antagonists missing each other wildly and individual battles ending quickly and bloodlessly. I may be wrong, but my theory is that the production does this deliberately, as it downplays conflict generally, so as not to traumatize the kiddies.

The sets (John Iacovelli) – the children's Victorian bedroom, Neverland, and the pirate ship – are rendered beautifully, and with unusually significant complexity for a touring production. Yaji's costumes are vivid and attractive, and Paul Rubin's flying sequences work as they are supposed to work. If you are a parent of young children, you can take them to this production confident that they will giggle and snort. You might get a little bored, but if you do, just sit back, watch Peter fly through the air flinging pixie dust, and remember back to the day when you never wore a serious expression in the middle of July.

Peter Pan has 4 more performances, ending Sept 4, 2011 at the Filene Center, Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia.

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Cathy Rigby soars again in 'Peter Pan'

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By: Emily CarySpecial To The Washington Examiner | 08/29/11 8:05 Pm

Cathy Rigby has been the definitive Peter Pan ever since the Olympic champion gymnast turned her sights on musical theater in 1974. As the boy who won't grow up, she has flown across the stage hundreds of times, earning Tony Award nominations as best leading actress in a musical and best revival of a musical.

She now returns in a new production that belies her decision five years ago to shout her last hurrah in "Neverland." The show arrives at Wolf Trap Thursday, then will make its way across the country, pausing to enhance Broadway's holiday season.

"The role is like an old friend," Rigby said. "I had just come off 'Steel Magnolias' and missed it so much I decided to do it again. I've never felt this happy and excited. Each production has brought in new audiences who keep coming back, but this one is especially exciting because of the new sets and costumes and wonderful scenic design."


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Photo Flash: Cathy Rigby Returns as PETER PAN

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by BWW News Desk

Olympic gymnast, Cathy Rigby, will once again take flight in her Tony nominated and Emmy Award winning role as the boy who won't grow up, Peter Pan.

Opening at Virginia's Wolf Trap in September 2011, the all new production of the musical Peter Pan will embark on a national tour of the USA followed by a possible return to Broadway in summer 2012. Below, BroadwayWorld brings you photo coverage from the production's final dress rehearsal.

Rigby's highly anticipated return to the role she has played over 3,000 times, will be documented in a two hour PBS national Pledge special. Slated to begin airing in Summer 2011, the pledge special will appear on PBS stations across the United States.

The revival of Peter Pan starring Rigby, will also become the first Broadway production to roll out a comprehensive line of licensed merchandise at major retail stores across the country.

Previous productions of Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby have grossed over $200 million dollars in ticket sales while, receiving multiple Tony Award nominations including "Best Revival of a Musical".

Photo Credit: Lily Lim


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Cathy Rigby stars in Peter Pan, the musical, 2011

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by EJ on 08/23/11

Yikes... as I write this we're having an earthquake!! My house is shaking back and forth. Hmm... my first earthquake. Now it's over. I guess I'll continue? (anyone else feel that?)

If you're read previous posts on my love of live musical theater, then you'll remember that my obsession with stage entertainment and musicals all began at six years old, sitting in the fifth row at The Lyric Opera House in Baltimore with my Dad, watching Cathy Rigby star in Peter Pan. At the end of the play, she soared over the crowd and right over my head, glittering pixie dust raining down from her hands and costume. Best moment of my childhood, hands down. I know this is written elsewhere, but Cathy Rigbyis Peter Pan. She's magic to a child. She played Peter Pan for the first time ten years before I was born. Even before Peter Pan, she was a two-time Olympian, the first female gymnast to win a medal in an international competition. For balance beam, she won silver in the World Championships in 1970. Along with her husband Tony McCoy, she runs McCoy Rigby Entertainment and also works as a motivational speaker for wellness and nutrition.

She's most famous for her role as Peter Pan. Cathy Rigby is just perfect. Cathy Rigby toured as Peter Pan in the years between my six year old self and me today, touring during the 1990s and on Broadway, receiving a Tony award for her part, then retiring her sword apparently in 2005 and again in 2009... apparently she's not grown old yet as she's back again this year beginning in August as Peter Pan on stage. I am ECSTATIC.

Hershey Entertainment has graciously allowed Four Little Monsters to attend tomorrow's opening night *scream, shout, stomp feet, hoot and holler, and of course, crow*. This means I'll be taking my six year old, KM, to see the very same play with the very same star that my Dad took me to see at six years old. What the heck!? How amazing is that!? Of course, you can visit us right here at Four Little Monsters for the review I'll post during the weekend. In the meantime, I'm pumped for tomorrow night!


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Ever-youthful Cathy Rigby brings heart to show

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09:05 AM PDT on Monday, August 22, 2011



Photo Gallery: Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan

Cathy Rigby's youth as a gymnast has served her well throughout two decades of touring in "Peter Pan."

"No one can fly like her," said her producer and husband, Tom McCoy. "If you've ever seen her fly in the show, it gives you tingles."

Rigby's athleticism was on display in a recent rehearsal for her latest tour of the musical, her sixth. It will open Wednesday in Hershey, Pa. The tour comes to Riverside in June.

The cast was in a La Mirada studio, working on a fight scene. Rigby, playing the magical flying boy Peter, was dueling with villainous Captain Hook, played by Tom Hewitt.

Over and over, they repeated the lines in which Hook realizes he is defeated.

"There's some fiend fighting me! Pan, who and what are you?"

"I'm youth! I'm joy! I'm freedom!"

Rigby's 30-year acting career has been liberating, she said in an interview during a break.

"In gymnastics you're very unemotional, you're very focused and exact, and perfection is the name of the game. And it's very, very calculated. ... You just have to be alive on stage. And that was the hardest thing because I was used to shutting down emotionally. Shutting down, shutting off, being unafraid.

"But acting is -- you and I have to connect. It's not just about me."

Rigby, 58, has been in the public eye most of her life. She became a star at 15, at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, in which she placed 15th in overall standings, the highest any U.S. competitor had finished at the time.

She competed in the 1972 Games in Munich and then retired from gymnastics. Before that, she performed in a few Inland-area exhibitions, including a fundraiser for Riverside's Ramona High School.

Rigby said that after doing a few guest spots on TV series, she got serious about acting and spent most of the 1970s learning her craft.

At that time she was living in Lake Arrowhead and married to Tommy Mason, a former running back for the Los Angeles Rams who operated a San Bernardino Coors beer distributorship.

Rigby began her theater career in earnest in 1981, the same year she and Mason divorced. She was cast as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" at the Sacramento Music Circus.

Her Tin Man in the production was McCoy. They married in 1982.

The couple moved toward the business end of show business, forming McCoy Rigby Entertainment and the McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts, a school for children age 2 through teens with an enrollment of 650. The operations share space in a business park in Yorba Linda.

Rigby's association with "Peter Pan" began with a 1986 production in her native Long Beach. Patti Columbo, who played Tiger Lily, is still with the show as choreographer.

In the La Mirada rehearsal for the current "Peter Pan" tour, Rigby observed that she has worked with nearly all the cast members before.

Among them is 12-year-old Jordyn Davis, of Corona, a dance pupil who attends the McCoy Rigby school.

When rehearsal resumed with the next scene of the play -- Peter Pan's triumph over the pirates -- Jordyn delivered her line to Rigby.

"Peter, can you teach me how to crow?"

A song followed that ended with cast members forming a pyramid and 4-foot-11-inch Rigby running up their backs to crow like a rooster while standing on the shoulders of a tall actor.

"I guess our philosophy is whenever we do a show, the casting is incredibly important to us," Rigby said. "The heart of the story is the most important thing ...

"We love to see flying, but you've got to tell the story."


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'Peter Pan' performance helps Cathy Rigby leap to stardom

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Published: Thursday, August 18, 2011, 5:19 AM

By Ellen Hughes

Cathy Rigby is "Peter Pan." I'm not just saying as Hershey Theatre's ads do that she's playing the part when the musical arrives there on Wednesday.

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Hershey Theatre photo

After more than 3,000 performances as the boy who sings, "I won't grow up," she embodies an admirable resistance to the normal aging process, flying, leaping, cartwheeling her way toward virtual immortality even as she approaches her 60th birthday.

My first Broadway experience was a matinee performance of "Peter Pan" in the early 1950s, with Mary Martin in the title role. Confirming the theory that what you're exposed to as a young child stays with you forever, I can still remember the words to most of the songs in that show ("I've gotta crow") while forgetting where I put my keys.

Hershey is the first stop for this tour of "Peter Pan." It then moves on to Wolf Trap in Virginia and travels back and forth nationwide until the show reaches Madison Square Garden in New York at the end of December. "Everyone wants to come to the sweetest place on earth" said Vikki Hultquist, managing director of entertainment for the Hershey enterprise, which made alterations in the schedule to accommodate this late-summer offering.

This is Rigby's second time as Peter Pan at Hershey Theatre. Hultquist likes the idea of another option for families visiting the area to spend time together before school starts. "Peter Pan" is an intergenerational show that allows grandparents and parents to share with their offspring what it was they loved so much about their first experience with this classic, she said.

Rigby is a huge draw for this market. "She's not just a star. It's the powerful person behind the star that speaks volumes about her character," Hultquist said.

As a teenager, Rigby participated on two Olympic gymnastics teams, and her silver medal victory on the balance beam in the 1970 world championships in Yugoslavia made her the first American gymnast to win an international award. An image of Rigby on the balance beam was included on the Voyager satellite as an example of the range of human motion.

Like Yul Brynner departing from his longtime role as the King of Siam in "The King and I," Rigby has had more than one final tour of "Peter Pan." The 2005 false end is our gain, and it's an attraction in itself to watch this small, determined, incredibly agile, Tony-nominated force of nature elude gravity one more time.

She took a break from rehearsal to talk to me last week, and said that her career as a gymnast, "with no wire, no fairy dust" was perfect preparation for the fearlessness of flying across the stage as Peter Pan. She also studied rigorously for her theatrical career, with singing and dancing lessons, and even now spends considerable time with a trainer, doing Pilates and weight training.

"I never thought I'd be able to do this so long," she said. The "youthful, effortless mind-set" that comes with playing the role keeps her young. If the landings are harder than they used to be, they're still easier than they were in gymnastics, she said. She credits her highly tuned body and spatial awareness and her ability to "shut down the part of self that's afraid" with helping her to continue in the role.

As for the process of putting together the all-new cast for this tour, Rigby said, "You never see this kind of energy and excitement" for any other show. "You find yourself in a state of joy."

After such a long time embodying its title character, Rigby has analyzed "Peter Pan" and its profound attraction through the years. She said that it is the story of Wendy's journey, with the action seen through Wendy's eyes. When she learns how to fly, "there's a collective gasp" in the audience.

And what's more, the play's other characters such as Nana, the child-minding dog, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell have all entered into our collective experience. Michael Jackson chose to name his homestead after Peter Pan's own Neverland, occupied by Indians, pirates and the Lost Boys.

Hultquist said how fortunate it was that Hershey had such a beautiful venue for "Peter Pan" and that the town's founder, Milton Hershey, built the theater for family offerings such as this show. "He would be proud if he were to look down and see what's happening here," she said.


"Peter Pan" Aug. 24-28; 7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Hershey The­atre, 15 E. Caracas Ave., Hershey. Tickets: $70-$25. Info: 717-534-3405 or

Ellen Hughes writes about fine arts, classical music and performances in the area. E-mail her at