Cathy Rigby Begins Her Farewell Flight as Peter Pan Sept. 24 in California

News   Cathy Rigby Begins Her Farewell Flight as Peter Pan Sept. 24 in California Cathy Rigby, the nimble former Olympic gymnast who took the musical Peter Pan to new heights over the past two decades, returns to the role Sept. 24, marking her "farewell" appearance as the boy who wouldn't grow up.
Cathy Rigby
Cathy Rigby

The new production plays through Oct. 10 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in California, and then flies off on a national tour that lasts through summer 2005. Howard McGillin of Broadway's Drood, The Phantom of the Opera and Anything Goes plays the dual role of Mr. Darling and Capt. Hook.

It was 100 years ago, 1904, that J.M. Barrie's play, Peter Pan, premiered in London. The musical is based on the play and the prose tales Barrie wrote. Songwriters Moose Charlap and Carolyn Leigh penned the score for the Broadway production that was originally conceived and choreographed by Jerome Robbins (additional songs are by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne).

Critics and audiences have been dazzled by Rigby's boyish, athletic performance over the years. When an earlier tour with Rigby came to Broadway in the 1990-91 season she was nominated for a Best Actress (Musical) Tony Award. Should this tour light again on Broadway (a booking has not been announced), press agents will likely bang the drum loudly to encourage the Tony nominating committee to give the actress a Special Tony Award for introducing thousands of kids to live theatre over her many years of playing Pan. Rigby is in her fifties.

Dates and cities to July 2005 have been announced for the 2004-05 tour.

* Since the 1990-91 run, producers welcomed Rigby back to Broadway for three other engagements (all linked to tours). Her performance was also captured in a TV staging. One of the major special effects in that airing and home video/DVD release was the digital erasing of the wires that allow Rigby to seem to fly.

A cast album of the Rigby touring production from the late 1990s, and a separate soundtrack album of the video production, are on store shelves.

Glenn Casale will direct the 2004 tour, building on his past touring productions, which played Broadway's Marquis November 1998-January 1999 and then the Gershwin April 1999-August 1999. The 1999 staging was also Tony nommed for Best Revival (Musical).

For the record, Fran Soeder directed Rigby in her Broadway bow as Pan in a staging that played Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne December 1990-January 1991 — earning Rigby and the revival Tony nominations — and later the Minskoff November 1991-January 1992.

For the new run, Patti Colombo's percussive 1998 choreography is also revisited (she was hailed for reinventing the Indian song, "Ugg-a-Wugg" as a primal drum dance worthy of Stomp).

The 2004 principal cast will also include Elisa Sagardia as Wendy and Dana Solimando as Tiger Lilly (repeating their chores from the late 1990s).

The 1954 Broadway musical was a vehicle for the optimistic actress Mary Martin (who won a Best Actress Tony for it). Cyril Ritchard also won a Tony playing the wicked and foppish Capt. Hook. A cast album preserves their vocal work.

The show's score includes "I Won't Grow Up," "I Gotta Crow," "Neverland," "Hook's Waltz," "Distant Melody" and "I'm Flying."