The Broadway musical, Peter Pan, will be introduced to a new generation of TV fans Oct. 8, when Cathy Rigby and her Tony Award-nominated production are seen on A&E.
The two-hour screening, 8-10 PM (ET), is the television premiere of the recently reconceived Peter Pan, a popular revival attraction on Broadway in two engagements in 1998 and 1999. This film version was shot in February 2000 at La Mirada Theatre, the California venue operated by Rigby and producer husband Tom McCoy. A spokesperson for the TV production said the wires that send Rigby and her castmates aloft in the show's famous flying scenes have been electronically erased, making the magic more palpable.
Millions grew up on TV screenings of Mary Martin in the Jerome Robbins-directed video production, which had its roots in Robbins' Broadway staging in 1954. That NBC-Martin version, which is technically crude by today's standards, is also on video. The new Peter Pan will be released on video and DVD (the latter with special features) Oct. 10. On Oct. 8, A&E will show a new episode of "Biography" focusing on former Olympic gymnast Rigby.
The Rigby Peter Pan (nominated for a Best Revival Tony Award in 1998-99) has been hailed for its athleticism and for the smart reconceiving of some of the plot elements, such as "Ugg-a-Wugg," a potentially offensive number about Native Americans. Director Glenn Casale and choreographer Patti Colombo reconceived the song as a percussive dance number that stopped the show nightly on its tour in 1997 and at the Marquis Theatre and Gershwin Theatre on Broadway (1998-99). The new video release represents a cutting of the musical, to about 96 minutes.
The musical is written by Moose Charlap (music), Carolyn Leigh (lyrics), with additional songs by Jule Styne and Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Songs include "Neverland," "I Won't Grow Up," "Distant Melody," "Hook's Waltz," "I Gotta Crow," "I'm Flyin'" and more. Robbins conceived, directed and choreographed the original production, drawn from the play by Barrie. There is no "book" credit, per se.
The Broadway and touring production of Peter Pan, which has now ended, was produced by McCoy/Rigby Entertainment, The Nederlander Organization, and La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in association with Albert Nocciolino, Larry Payton and Lynn Singleton.
This all-new TV production was produced for A&E by Line By Line Productions for McCoy/Rigby Entertainment. The TV production is directed by Gary Halvorson and produced by Marc Bauman.
The TV musical was shot using eight cameras.
Rigby starred in the 35th Anniversary production of Peter Pan on Broadway in 1991, and earned a Best Actress Tony Award nomination. She made her musical debut in 1981 as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She had subsequently in tours and regional stagings (sometimes at La Mirada), including Annie Get Your Gun, Meet Me in St. Louis, South Pacific, Paint Your Wagon, They're Playing Our Song and The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
Designers of the production are John Iacovelli (set), Shigeru Yaji (costumes) and Martin Aronstein (lights). Flying illusions are by ZFX, Inc. Craig Barna is the musical director.
-- By Kenneth Jones