She's Flying — Again! Rigby Will Tour in Bway-Aimed Peter Pan Starting Fall 2004

News   She's Flying — Again! Rigby Will Tour in Bway-Aimed Peter Pan Starting Fall 2004
All children, but one, grow up. And theatre audiences will see that perpetual boy fly once more in 2004-05 when Peter Pan, starring Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby, tours in the musical version.
Cathy Rigby
Cathy Rigby

Rigby, the two-time Olympic gymnast who triumphed in the role on tour and on Broadway (where she was Tony Award-nominated for her flight of fancy) will play what will be billed as her farewell in the role, Playbill On-Line learned.

The staging dovetails nicely with a milestone: The James M. Barrie play was first produced in 1904. It was later released as a prose children's book, in 1911.

The new production will launch in early September 2004 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in California, where Rigby and producer-husband Thomas P. McCoy program and produce shows under the McCoy Rigby Entertainment banner. The destination after a tour is a Broadway engagement in late 2005, according to production sources.

The same team that created the most recent Broadway engagements of Peter Pan will reunite for 2004-05: Director Glenn Casale, choreographer Patti Colombo, designer John Iacovelli and musical director/vocal arranger Craig Barna.

Those troupers reinvented the 1954 Broadway musical in the late 1990s, excising offensive Native American references and adding elements from James M. Barrie's original play and book (including the Marooner's Rock sequence). Colombo developed a show-stopping, percussive sequence during the tribal "Ugg-a-Wugg" number that seemed to evoke Stomp, "Lord of the Flies" and musical comedy joy all at once. In energy, it rivaled the show's famous "I'm Flying" number.

Rigby previously starred in a Fran Soeder-directed Peter Pan that played a Broadway engagement in the 1990-91 season, earning Tony Award nominations for Best Revival (Musical) and Best Actress (Rigby). It was billed as the 35th anniversary production. A return engagement played November 1991 to January 1992.

Refreshed and reinvented in a popular touring production under Casale's direction, and with a new creative team, Peter Pan returned to Broadway in the 1998-99 season (November 1998-January 1999) at the Marquis Theatre and was again nominated for Best Revival (Musical). It was so popular that season it returned to Broadway a few months later, playing April-August 1999 at the Gershwin.

The production was recorded for broadcast and home video/DVD release; production designer Iavcovelli won an Emmy Award for his work. The wires that made Rigby and company fly so nimbly were digitally erased on the film.

The Broadway musical first starred Mary Martin in 1954, who also appeared in famed annual TV rebroadcast of the show. Jerome Robbins conceived, directed and choreographed the Broadway original; his work was seen on TV, as well.

The show was revived in 1979-80 with Sandy Duncan in the title part (she was Tony-nommed as well; Rob Iscove directed and choreographed at the time).

Peter Pan's songs are by Moose Charlap and Carolyn Leigh, with additional songs by composer Jule Styne and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The show has traditionally not had a libretto credit but is billed as "a musical production of the play by Sir James M. Barrie."

The score is known to generations of people for its wide exposure in the annual TV version. The show's songs include "I Won't Grow Up," "Distant Melody," "Tender Shepherd," "Wendy," "I Gotta Crow," "I'm Flying," "Hook's Waltz" and "Neverland."

The musical is presented in a three-act form, a rarity for commercial theatre. Diminutive Rigby, who is in her fifties, has played the role more often than any other actress, and has been hailed for her boyish athleticism in the role.

A non-musical feature film, "Peter Pan," is currently in theatres. A separate musical version was created as an animated Disney film (with songs by Sammy Fain and Sammy Cahn). Leonard Bernstein also penned a musical version of the property, and countless puppet, play and musical versions have surfaced over the years.

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