“CATHY RIGBY IS PETER PAN” Flies High in Silicon Valley
By Iride Aparicio
Photos by: Isaac James
CATHY RIGBY Center and the “Lost Boys” in the new production of PETER PAN
SAN JOSÉ, CA— Do you believe in fairies? If you do, you will love the magical production of CATHY RIGBY IS PETER PAN, the musical with CATHY RIGBY playing the lead role, that is being presented as part of the season of BROADWAY SAN JOSÉ at the S.J. Center for the Performing arts in this city.
As Peter, the boy who refuses to grow up because adults no longer believe in fairies, refuse to accept the fact that we can fly if our thoughts are happy, and that there is an island called “Never Land” among the stars, RIGBY, impersonates her character looking as boyish as when she was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actress in a National Tour (l990-91 season), again during the l998 revival, in the Emmy Award-winning A&E Movie for which she received critical acclaim, and in the l00th anniversary tour 2004-2006. Like Peter, RIGBY will always be young.
The Los Angeles Times proclaimed RIGBY “the perfect personification of PETER PAN,” and she is his perfect personification. Her Peter is Nimble, self-centered, cocky, braggart, sure of himself, and yet vulnerable because he (PETER) had never been touched by a woman (not even his mother) because he ran away from home as a baby when he heard his parents discussing what they wanted him to be when he grew up. Peter never wanted to grow up.
Still a child at heart, Peter likes to play, to dream to believe in the impossible and he loves fairy tales. He was attracted to the house of Mr. Darling (BRENT BARRET) and family, because, through the window, he heard Mrs. Darling (KIM CROSBY) reading her children, Wendy (KRISTA BUCCELLATO) John (LEXY BAEZA) y Michael (JULIA MASSEY) a fairy tale: Cinderella.
Mr and Mrs Darling with their children at the center,and Nana de dog
One night, going out for dinner, after his tie had been tied correctly by his wife and Mr. Darling (BARRET) assures the family that now that he is properly dressed he can go to the party given by his place of works, not lose his job (for not attending the party) and be able to continue supporting his family, the parents leave the house leaving Nana,(CLARK ROBERTS) the dog that serves as baby sitter to the children, not free running inside the nursery, but chained in the yard, outside.
And as the children fall sleep, Peter (RIGBY) opens the window and with Tinker Bell, a fairy, represented by a light spot, enters the nursery flying, looking for his shadow. Peter had lost it several days ago. Mrs. Darling (CROSBY) found it and tucked inside a drawer.
So after Wendy (BUCCELLATO) discovers Peter, saws his shadow to his feet and back, finds out who is he, and Peter teaches all how to fly, with Wendy promising to be “his mother” they fly on a starry sky over London to an island on a star called: “Never Never Land”
The flying scene is one of the most visual scenes in the musical, and in The Nederlander Presentation is stupendous.
As Peter, RIGBY who during his gymnastic career won numerous international medals (eight gold, and was inducted to the Gymnastics Hall of Fame in l998) flies over the stage with the grace of a bird with her arms extended at both sides, she jumps and tumbles, her nimble body allowing her to look elegantly standing over the chimney, the furniture, even over the pirate’s back. This Peter knows how to fly.
As a singer, RIGBY’s voice sounds lower than it did before but it is still full and mellow and when she sings “I Gotta Crow,” she still knows how to crow. Her “I Won’t Grow up” can still convince us that Peter, never will.
In this production, Wendy (BUCELLATO) acts her part convincingly and sings with a sweet tone of voice.
In the production the sets which included the island and the pirate’s ship are elaborate and colorful and most voices in the show have good tones which is one of the reason why the indians’ choir, the “Lost boys’” choir and the pirates’ choir had a full sound that night.
in his acting, however, BRET BARRETT seem unsure, at times, on how to portray his other role as Captain Hook. His tone of voice is full and he sang well and his dancing with the pirates was rhythmic, but in the personification of his character, his Hook seems real at times and at another times so “over-acted" that it lost credibility completely.
The pirates with Captain Hook at the center
BARRETT also needed to act his first role as Mr. Darling, the children's father, with more veracity. The father needed to be played more convincingly.
While the singing is very good in this musical, the dancing, specially the Indians’ ensembles are excellent. Tiger Lily (JENNA WRIGHT) doing gymnastics in the air held only by two long silk ribbons wrapped around her body, was great. In his role as Nana the dog, CLARK ROBERTS looked "cute" and was creative.
Written by JAMES MATTHEW BARRIE an Scottish writer, the popular story was his greatest success in l912. The book became a play and then a musical in l985 when PIERS CHATER ROBINSON adapted it. CAROLYN LEIGH wrote the lyrics (with additional lyrics by BETTY COMDEN and ADOLPPH GREEN) and MARK “MOOSE” CHARLAP the music (with additional music by JULES STYNE.
The first PETER PAN opened in Broadway in l954. It started MARY MARTIN as Peter Pan and CYRIL RITCHARD as Captain Hook. It earned a Tony Award for both stars. JEROME ROBBINS made the original choreography which is still used in most versions.