Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan
I recently had the opportunity to attend the opening night performance of "Peter Pan" at the Pantages Theatre. It was my first time watching the show, but it has always been high on my list of "must see" performances. And when I read that Peter would be played by the one and only Cathy Rigby, of course I jumped at the chance! "Peter Pan" was everything I expected, with enough fairies, pirates, fun and magic to have anyone channeling their inner child.
We all know the story of the infamous boy who refuses to grow up, written by James Barrie. The journey that Wendy, Michael and John Darling embark on with Peter has been told over and over to children of all ages across the world.
Their encounters with the villainous Captain Hook and sprightly Tinker Bell remain a classic favorite. What child (or adult) hasn't wanted to escape to Neverland, where every day is filled with adventure and you never have to grow up? "Peter Pan" gives us the chance to spend a couple of hours in this magical land.
Cathy Rigby is no stranger to this game. For over 29 years she has graced the Broadway stage playing anyone from Dorothy Gale to the Cat in the Hat. According to Rigby, "One of the greatest gifts of my theatrical career has been the opportunity to play 'Peter Pan,'" and the life and passion she puts into playing the part shines brighter than the pixie dust she sprinkles across the stage.
Still as light and limber as someone half her age, Rigby owned the Pantages stage during her performance. With the help of flight choreographer Paul Rubin, she flew, bounced, somersaulted and cart-wheeled across the theater with grace and poise.
She has a way of pulling the audience into the show with her, giving us all to opportunity to experience the adventure together. When Peter is being mischievously eccentric, we are there alongside him; when he feels sad and down, we cry with him; when he battles Captain Hook, we fight beside him; and when he flies across the sky; we soar as well. This is the magic that Rigby has created with this fascinating character, and there's enough charm in her performance to make all of us believers.
Brent Barrett is Captain Hook, and he is devilishly delightful playing the part. Although he is ultimately the villain in the story, flashing evil looks and slashing his hook left and right, you cannot help but fall for this pirate captain. His strong vocals were impressive, and his never ending battle with the cunning crocodile elicited booming laughter from the crowd.
Krista Buccellato was striking as Wendy Darling. The young actress showed maturity beyond her years and entranced us with her powerful vocals. One of my favorite moments in her performance was the lullaby she sang to the Lost Boys. It was both poetic and bittersweet, and reminds is just how much the boys long for a true sense of family.
Jenna Wright is simply delightful as the Indian princess Tiger Lily, gliding across the stage in graceful dance steps both beautiful and savage. At times her moves were so aerial it seemed she herself was using the suspension ropes.
The setting and scenery is beautiful and whimsical. John Iacovelli truly embraced his inner Lost Boy when creating Neverland which is a lush landscape of mystic enchantment. Captain Hook's ship is fantastic as well, providing the pirates a fine set for all of their swashbuckling.
The show is directed by Glenn Casale, who succeeds in bringing the timeless tale to life. Choreographer Patti Colombo should be credited with some of the best moments from the production, creating numerous remarkable and memorable dance routines. Bruce Barnes does a fine job leading the orchestra along skillfully.
"Peter Pan" has something for everyone, young and old. From Rigby's dreamlike flying sequences, to the stunning sets, to the great musical numbers, you will leave the theatre with a big smile. It won't be just because you got sprinkled with fairy dust either, rather because you will feel like you just visited Neverland...even if it was only for a little while.
"Peter Pan" runs through Jan. 27 at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. For tickets or info, call 800-982-2787 or visit www.BroadwayLA.org.