Peter Pan

Cathy Rigby still excels as the title character of the classic musical about the boy who won’t grow up.

Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan
(© Craig Schwartz)
Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan
(© Craig Schwartz)

Apparently, some of Peter Pan’s youthful pixie dust has rubbed off on Cathy Rigby. After more than 20 years of touring as the title character in the beloved musical Peter Pan, now at the Theater at Madison Garden, the 59-year old former Olympic gymnast remains remarkably agile, in fine vocal shape, and is more convincing as a boy than many adult actors, with none of the usual cloying affects that some performers employ when they play children.

The show is best aimed at kids — especially those for whom this is their first theatrical experience — who will find it a fun show with periodic moments of enchantment. For those theatergores already familiar with the musical — whether through the oft-televised production with original star Mary Martin, the Broadway revival starring Sandy Duncan or even Rigby’s own previous runs — the current tour, directed by Glenn Casale, can be a little frustrating.

Julie Ferrin’s sound design starts things off on the wrong foot with the first, tinny, over-miked notes of the overture. From there, it muddies much of the dialogue so that crucial jokes and exposition get lost in the mix.

Technical glitches abound as well, with flats continually flying in ahead of cue and magic snow sometimes falling in rather unmagical chunks of unshredded material. And during the famous “I’m Flying” scene, the three otherwise engaging actors playing Michael, John, and Wendy (Julia Massey, Cade Canon Ball, and the charming Krista Buccellato, respectively) are not allowed to soar with the same thrilling ease as many of their predecessors were.

Patti Colombo’s choreography, in general, is no match for Jerome Robbins’ in the original. Only “Ugg-a-Wugg,” the big production number in Act Two between the Lost Boys and the Indians, shows any spark and it, too, lacks the excitement necessary for a show stopper.

Moreover, many scenes are simply not given enough time to breathe or corners get cut. For example, rather than establish that Wendy is sleeping peacefully after getting shot out of the sky with an arrow, Peter and the Lost Boys merely note that she’s alive and then start singing away, while she continues to lie sprawled on the ground.

And for some reason, the entire sequence in which Peter and Tiger Lily (Jenna Wright) rescue each other from something called Marooner’s Rock is an odd, somewhat confusing replacement for the comic “Mysterious Lady” scene in the original production.

On the plus side, Tom Hewitt cuts a hilarious and dashing figure as Captain Hook/Mr. Darling, and he gleefully connects with the role from his first entrance as Hook. Showered by a chorus of boos, he glares out at the audience and sneers, “Oh, grow up.” Peter, of course, might disagree!

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