The audience for the opening night of Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan of The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up at the Palace was quite full; many children brought their grownups along. The daughters of Attorney Rick Richardson and Cathy Bower (The Nutcracker) brought both parents and sat in the row right in front of the excellent seat for which I had a complimentary ticket. I was missing my frequent seatmate because he is traveling abroad; there is a sentence I never expected to write. Palace CEO Frank Tavera welcomed patrons and mentioned the annual fund raffle that is ongoing. Since Waterbury Hospital’s “Thank God I’m Female” Women’s Wellness Forum was a sponsor of the show, flyers for that upcoming event were included in the program. The very funny Michelle Gotay will be one of the special guests at the forum and proceeds will support the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Programs at the hospital.
The musical is an adaptation of J.M.Barrie's classic story. We join Wendy, her brothers and Peter Pan as they seek adventure on the enchanted island of Neverland while battling Captain Hook and his band of pirates The all-new stage production succeeds in bringing the story to new heights, both literally and figuratively. The magical moments are many (and several involve Tinkerbell) and the high-flying stunts are quite incredible. The action-packed sword fights by the pirates and the lost boys will surely "hook" the kids in the audience.
Tony® Nominated actress Cathy Rigby is in the title role and has a very impressive bio. Before playing “the boy who won’t grow up,” Rigby was an amazing Olympic gymnast.; of course she makes excellent use of that training in her amazing physical performance. I was impressed to read that after seven years of intense vocal and theatrical training, she embarked on her new career in performing arts. She first played Peter Pan in 1990 and continues to bring joy to the role 23 years later. I had no idea that in 2002, she also starred in the Broadway production of Seussical the Musical as “Cat-In-The-Hat.”
This actress does not look or act sixty years old; the role has clearly kept her young. The word "ageless" comes to mind and cast member Brent Barrett described her as "fearless" on WATR. Her flying is absolutely amazing and will delight both young and old. She truly brings an endearing boyish quality to Peter and has a strong alto singing voice.
Starring alongside Ms. Rigby is Broadway’s Brent Barrett as Mr. Darling/Hook. Mr. Barrett has appeared in Broadway’s Chicago, Annie Get Your Gun, and West Side Story as well as London’s West End. He is a wonderful Hook and interacted perfectly with the actors playing his pirates. The superb choreography by Patti Colombo featured a ballet, a tango, a tarantella and a terrific drumming sequence that my young percussionist would have loved. Mr. Barrett warned patrons not to leave the show before the curtain call and I concur.
Kim Crosby is lovely as Mrs. Darling/Mermaid/Grown up Wendy; she played “Cinderella” in the original production of Sondheim’s Into the Woods and has also appeared in Guys and Dolls and Jerry’s Girls. The young actors playing the children all did a great job. James Leo Ryan was a riot as Hook's sidekick Smee and Jenna Wright was a fine dancer as Tiger Lily and Liza. Of special merit was Clark Roberts who played Nana the dog, Croc the crocodile and served as Fight Captain.
The production values of this show, brought to the stage by the production company that Ms. Rigby runs with her husband of 30 years Tom McCoy, were super. The most clever are the techniques used to suggest the fairy Tinkerbell. Whimsical sets and costumes combine with effective lighting for a great overall experience. While I knew some of musical numbers, some were new for me.
This is a great show for all members of the family. Although the story might be a little hard for the very youngest to follow, they will enjoy the visual elements nonetheless. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the rest of the members of the opening night audience. Tickets are available for the remaining performances. If you believe in fairies, don't miss it.