Gymnast-turned-actress Cathy Rigby will return to Broadway for the 1998 holiday season as the boy who won't grow up, Peter Pan. Previews start Nov. 20 for an opening Nov. 23 and a run through Jan. 3, 1999 at the Marquis Theatre, recent home of Forever Tango and, before that, The Capeman.
This new production of the Charlap/Leigh/Styne/Comden/Green Peter Pan musical launched a yearlong tour Nov. 7, 1997 in California. (After Peter Pan flies away, by the way, the Marquis is already booked for Annie Get Your Gun, beginning previews Feb. 2, 1999.)
Here are dates for the remaining months of the tour (subject to change):
Sept. 8-20, 1998: Shubert, Chicago
Sept. 22-27, 1998: Wharton Center, East Lansing, MI
Sept. 29-30, 1998: TBA
Oct. 2-4, 1998: Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo, MI
Oct. 6-11, 1998: Palace Theatre, Stamford, CT
Oct. 13-18, 1998: Ovens Auditorium, Charlotte, NC
Oct. 20-22, 1998: Von Braun Civic Center, Huntsville, AL
Oct. 23-25, 1998: Concert Hall, Birmingham, AL
Oct. 27-Nov. 1, 1998: Clearwater, FL
Nov. 3-8, 1998: Tennessee PAC, Nashville, TN
Nov. 10-15, 1998: Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, TN
Nov. 20, 1998-Jan. 3 1999: New York City (52 performances).
Broadway veteran Paul Schoeffler plays the villainous Captain James Hook; Elisa Sagardia plays Wendy, Drake English (Michael) and Chase Kniffen (John) play the adventurous Darling children who leave the nest and fly off to Neverland with the boy who wouldn't grow up.
Barbara McCulloh is Mrs. Darling, Michael Nostrand portrays First Mate Smee, and Dana Solimando plays the Indian Princess Tiger Lily.
The cast also includes Aileen Quinn (Tootles), Doreen Chila (Twin), Janet Higgins (Twin), Scott Bridges (Slightly), Alon Williams (Curley), Sam Zeller (Starkey), Buck Mason (Nana/ Crocodile), Danny Schmittler (Never-bird), Kim Arnett, Michelle Berti, William Alan Coates, Casey Good, Randy Davis, Jeffrey Elsass, Roger Preston Smith, Tony Spinosa and Brian Shepard.
Glenn Casale directs the production. Dances have been created by Patti Colombo, who choreographed Radio Gals at CA's La Mirada as well as the West Coast premiere of Drood! starring George Rose.
For those who can't wait to see the tour or the Broadway run of the show, "Peter Pan -- The Album, Starring Cathy Rigby" was recently released on Jay CDs (distributed by Allegro).
Originally produced on Broadway in 1954 starring Mary Martin, Peter Pan has music by Moose Charlap and Jule Styne; and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden & Adolph Green. Barrie's original 1904 play was based on several chapters that appeared in in his 1902 novel, The Little White Bird. Songs in the show include "I've Got To Crow," "Neverland," "Distant Melody" and "Hook's Waltz."
Designing the show are John Iacovelli (sets -- he did Twilight Of The Golds on Broadway), Shigeru Yaji (costumes), Martin Aronstein (lighting -- he did Wild Honey and George M! on Broadway).
Fran Soeder directed the 1990-91 Broadway revival with Rigby, which also starred Stephen Hanan as Captain Hook. (Two seasons ago, New York audiences got a different look at Hook when Mabou Mines' Peter And Wendy played at Off Broadway's New Victory.)
On returning to the role, Rigby was quoted as saying, "Never has a role been as magical for me. When I fly over the audience at the end of the show, and I look out into the house, everyone becomes childlike and flies with Peter. It's exciting to see people transported that way. I see tears in people's eyes, I see them holding their children -- the joy I see in their faces is overwhelming. Peter is truly an inspiration for children of all ages...he never finds a dead-end, only a detour."
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this Pan is that Foy is not handling the flying; ZFX is. That company's clients have included Six Flags in Fiesta, TX, Nickelodeon TV Studios, "Babylon 5," Dallas Children's Theatre, Music Theatre of Wichita.
Says Peter Pan producer Tom McCoy, "We found ZFX's approach to Peter refreshingly creative, coupled with a willingness to adapt and experiment with new ideas. Yet, ZFX provide the same measure of safety and security we experienced in the past, and which is vital to a successful production."
ZFX director of field operations Paul Rubin described the mechanics to Playbill On-Line: "Rigby hangs from a 1/16" diameter cable, like kite string, only rated at 1,000 pounds. Our system is a flying track system, used for shows like Peter Pan, Wizard Of Oz at Music Theatre Of Wichita - anytime you need control of vertical and horizontal movement. The truss itself is 12" tall by 8" deep by 50' long and breaks into three sections. Our track is inside the truss. The harness is a nylon webbing with neoprine padding (like what scuba divers wear, thin but dense), so the weight is dispersed over a larger span. We don't use leather straps and buckles; we have quick-release snap buckles that are easier to conceal."