Has it really been six years since Cathy Rigby flew across the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, singing, crowing and vowing "I won't grow up!"? Well, audiences now have another chance to catch the gymnast-turned actress in the role of J.M. Barrie's mischievous and eternal pre adolescent, Peter Pan.
A new production of the Charlap/Leigh/Styne/Comden/Green Peter Pan musical launched a yearlong tour Nov. 7 in California and is now headed for such cities as Atlanta, Ottawa, Milwaukee and Cleveland, with Broadway eyed for just after Thanksgiving 1998.
The cast is currently in London recording a cast CD of the show, to be released shortly. More details below.
Rigby's co-stars are Paul Schoeffler, who plays Captain Hook, and Elisa Sagardia who plays Wendy. Schoeffler was Javert in the Les Miz national tour and appeared on Broadway in Victor/Victoria. Sagardia recently toured with Theodore Bikel in Fiddler On The Roof.
Other cast members include Paul Tiesler (Michael), Michael LaVolpe (John), Barbara McCulloh (Mrs. Darling), Michael Nostrand (Smee) and Susan Lamontagne (Tiger Lilly), Aileen Quinn, Doreen Chila, K.W. Miller, Janet Higgins, Sam Zeller, Buck Mason, Danny Schmittler, Kim Arnett, William Alan Coates, Casey Good, Randy Davis, Jeffrey Elsass, Ray Garcia, Jose Restreppo, Brian Shepard. Glenn Casale directs the production. He replaces formerly announced Eli Simon.
Spokesperson David Balsom ascribed the directorial switch to, "Ye olde creative differences. It was fine, everybody seemed fine. It was a very simple case of not sharing the same total vision of where they wanted the production to go. And the change was made early enough for things to go smoothly."
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, "Peter Pan -- The Album, Starring Cathy Rigby" has been completed on Jay CDs (distributed by Allegro) and will be available in stores in early January. The official release date is Feb. 1.
Originally produced on Broadway in 1954, 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 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. The original Peter and Hook were Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard. New York audiences recently got another look at Hook when Mabou Mines' Peter And Wendy played at Off Broadway's New Victory Theatre in February.
Of 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."
Here are the announced dates for the tour (subject to change):
Nov. 26-Dec. 21: Fifth Avenue; Seattle, WA
Dec. 23-28: Community Center; Sacramento, CA.
Dec. 30-Jan. 4, 1998: Civic; San Diego, CA
Jan. 5-6, 19998: McCallum Theatre; Palm Desert, CA
Jan. 9-11, 1998: Municipal Auditorium; Lubbock, TX
Jan. 13-14, 1998: Hammons Hall; Springfield, MO
Jan. 16-18, 1998: Civic Center; Oklahoma City, OK
Jan. 20-25, 1998: Detroit Opera House, MI
Jan. 27-Feb. 1, 1998: Palace; Cleveland, OH
Feb. 3-Feb. 8, 1998: Weidner Center; Green Bay, WI
Feb. 10-15, 1998: Warner; Washington DC
Feb. 17-March 1, 1998: Colonial; Boston, MA
March 3-8, 1998: Uihlein Hall; Milwaukee, WI
March 10-15, 1998: Landmark Theatre; Richmond VA
March 17-22, 1998: Mechanic; Baltimore, MD
March 24-29, 1998: Proctor's; Schenectady, NY
March 31-April 5, 1998: Bushnell; Hartford, VA
April 7-12, 1998: National Arts Centre; Ottawa, Canada
April 14-19, 1998: Providence, PAC, Providence, RI
April 21-May 3, 1998: Shubert; New Haven, CT
May 5-10, 1998: Chrysler Hall; Norfolk, VA
May 12-17, 1998: Clowes Hall; Indianapolis, IN
May 19-24, 1998: Hummingbird Centre; Toronto, Canada
May 26-June 7, 1998: Benedum Centre; Pittsburgh, PA
June 9-14, 1998: Chapman Hall; Tulsa, OK
June 17-21, 1998: Broward Centre; Fort Lauderdale, FL
June 23-28, 1998: Fox; Atlanta, GA
June 30-July 12, 1998: Music Hall; Dallas, TX
July 14-19, 1998: Symphony Hall; Phoenix, AZ
July 21-26, 1998: Aladdin Theatre; Las Vegas, NV
July 28-Aug. 9, 1998: Pantages; Los Angeles, CA
Further dates will be announced for the tour, to continue through early 1999. The show will most likely reach Broadway in Late November 1998.
Spokesperson Balsom said of Rigby, "She flies better than anyone flew before; she looks as natural in the air as she does on the ground. Remember, she's just in her early 40's. She retired from public life when she was 19! Few people have taken on a whole new life the way she has."
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this Pan is that Foy will not be doing the flying; ZFX will. That company's clients have included Six Flags in Fiesta, TX, Nickelodeon TV Studios, "Babylon 5," Dallas Children's Theatre, Music Theatre of Wichita.
"The folks at ZFX were tremendously impressed the way Rigby could still sing the songs while flying. Wearing that harness is not comfortable for anyone. Rigby has the mentality of an athlete."
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."
Asked how hoisting this Peter Pan would differ from the previous Rigby flight, ZFX director of field operations Paul Rubin told Playbill On-Line (Sept. 16), "The system can be installed, up and running in a half an hour. The old one would take three-to-four hours to load in. We just bring it down and put it in the truck; the ropes and cables need not be taken off. So that saves three hours every stop on the tour."
Rubin also described the mechanics: "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."