Entertainment & Arts

Review: At 59, Cathy Rigby still is ‘Peter Pan’

Apparently, spending the bulk of your time in Neverland really will stop you from growing up. Cathy Rigby won a Tony nomination for her performance as Peter Pan on Broadway in the 1990 revival. Now, at 59, she is once again soaring and scattering pixie dust at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, in a touring production by McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the company she runs with her husband, Tom McCoy.

An earlier tour, in 2004-05, was billed as Rigby’s farewell to the part she had claimed so definitively (even unseating Mary Martin) that the marquees read (as they do now), “Cathy Rigby Is Peter Pan.” But like Peter Pan himself, it seems, she couldn’t stay away forever. “I hope she doesn’t need a walker,” a friend joked.

She certainly doesn’t. And to see her fearless and ebullient flying, newly choreographed by Paul Rubin with even more athletic flips, is to suspect that the role actually functions as a youth elixir. Trained as a gymnast — she competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics — the petite Rigby remains light on her feet. She still belts out her numbers, and her acting feels fresh too. There’s nothing fey or cloying about her Peter, who has something indefinably boyish about him.

All of the winning elements of earlier McCoy Rigby productions remain. Glenn Casale directs. Patti Colombo choreographs. The musical design is by Bruce Barnes, and the costumes are by Shigeru Yaji. John Iacovelli’s sets, from the Darlings’ Edwardian nursery to Hook’s pirate ship, are a visual feast.


The storytelling, crammed into two acts, may gloss over a few narrative connections but has enough adventure and swordplay to distract younger viewers from any puzzlement.

Krista Buccellato makes a lovely Wendy, and Cade Canon Ball and Julia Massey, respectively, are adorable as John and Michael. After learning to fly, the three children politely retreat upstage and dangle in midair to watch Peter zip around -- because it’s really Peter’s show.

Kim Crosby has a sweet, dreamy charm as Mrs. Darling and is heart-rending as grown-up Wendy. Jenna Wright as Tigerlily makes her entrance with an arresting rope dance. My daughter was especially taken with Clark Roberts as Nana the dog (he’s also the crocodile and pirate Bill Jukes).

Brent Barrett plays both the blustering Mr. Darling and the villain Captain Hook. His louche, languorous pirate, closer to Jack Sparrow than Long John Silver, is extremely charming, but children will be too busy cheering for Peter to mourn his fate. Afterward they’ll scramble to gather the fallen pixie dust from the carpet.


Adults should consider grabbing a handful for themselves. Maybe it won’t confer eternal youth, but it can’t hurt.


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“Peter Pan,” La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 24. $35-$50. (562) 944-9801, (714) 994-6310 or Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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