Peter Pan, With Cathy Rigby Flying High, Opens in NYC Dec. 14

News   Peter Pan, With Cathy Rigby Flying High, Opens in NYC Dec. 14
 
After swearing she was retiring her green tights for good, Cathy Rigby flies back to New York City in her Tony Award-nominated role as Peter Pan Dec. 14-30 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The engagement, also starring Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook, is part of a new national tour of the musical fantasy directed by Glenn Casale.

Cathy Rigby
Cathy Rigby Photo by Michael Lamont

The sneering pirates, starchy parents, percussive Indians, lost boys and three British siblings of Peter Pan began singing and dancing Aug. 24 with the launch of the new national tour of Peter Pan starring 58-year-old Rigby as the boy who wouldn't grow up. The Hershey Theater in Hershey, PA, was the first stop on the tour, which continues into 2012.

In addition to limber actress and former Olympic gymnast Rigby, who recreates her Tony Award-nominated turn as author J.M. Barrie's famed boy, the cast features Broadway stars Hewitt (The Rocky Horror Show) as Capt. Hook/Mr. Darling and Kim Crosby (Into the Woods) as Mrs. Darling. Jenna Wright is Tiger Lily.

For more information about Peter Pan at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, visit www.theateratmsg.com or call (866) 858-0008.

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The 58-year-old Rigby spoke candidly to Playbill.com about returning to the role that she had previously retired. Some scenic changes have been made to this production since producers Rigby and Tom McCoy last toured it in 2005. "I changed my mind," the actress said of her resurrected Peter Pan. "We did it regionally last summer… and after doing it last summer, I thought, 'Why not?' I miss it, I love it, it's something that has brought great joy to me and hopefully to the audiences, and I've honestly never felt better. I've been working out and dancing and taking Pilates.

"[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?'"

James Leo Ryan and Tom Hewitt
photo by Michael LaMont

Director Casale's cast features Krista Buccellato as Wendy; Cade Canon Ball as John; Julia Massey and Jordyn Davis alternating as Michael; James Leo Ryan as Smee; Carly Bracco as Tootles/Jane; Dane Wagner as Slightly; Shanon Mari Mills as Curly; Joven Calloway as Twin No. 1; Marc Nunez as Twin No. 2; Michael Shepperd as Starkey; Steven Strafford as Cecco; Shannon Stoeke as Bill Jukes; Clark Roberts as Pirate/Nana/Croc; John Todd as Pirate/Indian; Jasmine Ejan as Female Indian; Seth Belliston as Pirate/Indian; J David Anderson as Pirate/Indian; Andrew Wilson as Pirate/Indian; Rod Roberts as Male Swing/Dance Captain; Melissa Roberts as Female Swing.

Starting with the original 1954 Broadway staging of this musical version of the Barrie play, Peter Pan has offered young people from several generations a first brush with musical theatre. Carolyn Leigh and Moose Charlap wrote most of the songs, with contributions by Betty Comden & Adolph Green and Jule Styne. The score includes "I'm Flying," "Neverland," "I Gotta Crow," "Wendy," "Ugg-a-Wugg," "Hook's Waltz," "Distant Melody" and more. Mary Martin created the part on Broadway (and in a TV version); Sandy Duncan flew in the late 1970s Broadway revival; and Rigby brought her boyish, elfin looks and acrobatic flying skills to several productions since the early 1990s (on tour, on Broadway, in a cable TV presentation, for which she won an Emmy Award). She retired her wires several years ago, but, clearly, could not resist returning to the role.

Rigby and her producer husband McCoy reinvented the script with their collaborators (director Glenn Casale and choreographer Patti Colombo) starting in the mid-1990s. In particular, the references to Native Americans were softened, and the tribal song "Ugg-a-Wugg" is now a primal percussion number that has brought down the house as never before. (A cast album and TV soundtrack document their fresh take on the score; the first stereo recording of the show tunes).

Rigby was a Best Actress Tony Award nominee for playing the part in 1990-91; that version (which played played two Broadway engagements starting in fall 1990 and again in fall 1991) was directed by Fran Soeder. The revised version by Casale and Colombo toured and landed on Broadway in 1998-99, earning a Tony nomination as Best Revival of a Musical. Parents who were children when they first knew the property were now returning with their own kids and finding themselves surprised at Rigby's athleticism; Mary Martin and Sandy Duncan ever walked on their hands.

Rigby has played more than 3,000 performances in the show. She won an Emmy Award for the TV version of the show (which used elements of the 1999 revival).

The 2011 creative team includes musical director Keith Levenson; scenic designer John Iacovelli; costume designer Shigeru Yaji; lighting designer Michael Gilliam; sound designer Sound Advice LLC; fight director Sean Boyd; prop coordinator Terry Hanrahan; wig and hair designer Mitchell Hale; and new orchestrator Notion Music Inc. The flying sequences are designed by Paul Rubin.

For more information, visit cathyrigbyispeterpan.com.

Cathy Rigby and Krista Buccellato
Cathy Rigby and Krista Buccellato Photo by Michael Lamont
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