Rigby returns to famous role as 'Peter Pan'
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Sunday, March 03, 2013
3/03/13 at 5:41 AM
Related story: Flying system adds more ‘fun’ to ‘Peter Pan’
The last time Cathy Rigby came to Tulsa in the guise of Peter Pan it was supposed to be the last time.
Rigby's 2004-2005 tour was billed as her farewell to a role the former Olympic gymnast had made her own through thousands of performances on Broadway and throughout the world.
But Rigby is once again headlining a touring production of "Peter Pan," in which the boy who refuses to grow up is once again portrayed by the actress who doesn't seem to age.
"I changed my mind," Rigby said, laughing. "I missed doing the show. The more you do a role, the more it becomes a part of you. And with this role, where I'm playing a child, I get to tap into all sorts of things you don't often get the chance to do in one's adult life - that fearlessness and spontaneity, that politically incorrect directness in what you say."
Another reason for returning to the road with "Peter Pan" was to bring a few new things to the show, from more spectacular flying effects to adding some personal touches to the theater-going experience.
Rigby's portrayal of Peter Pan has always been notable for the sheer physicality of her performance, born of years of gymnastic training.
"We're using a new flying harness for this tour - a double-wire one," Rigby said. "It allows me to do more flips and turns than I've ever done before. Of course, it can turn you at times when you don't want to turn, so it's easier to get tangled up.
"Fortunately, the guys who work with me on the flying have been doing so for years," she said. "It takes a lot of practice and a lot of focus. For me, it's like doing a routine on the balance beam - and there are two guys trying to move the beam to the place where I'm supposed to land. It's all about trust and timing."
Rigby, who turned 60 in December, began training for the tour before it began, working with a former U.S. Marine to get herself in the proper physical shape.
"It wasn't the ballistic stuff - lifting weights and running miles, things like that," she said. "It was more about fine-tuning every muscle. I haven't missed a show in a year and a half, and I'm jumping and high-kicking as much as ever. It's something people expect and enjoy, and I want to make sure I can deliver.
"And it gets to the point, after a while, where even all the athleticism of the part can become almost effortless," Rigby said. "You have the confidence of your body and your abilities and in the people who are working with you."
Another aspect of this tour that is new is that Rigby makes it a point to meet with fans in the theater's lobby after a performance, to sign posters, and to share a little of Peter Pan's "fairy dust" with youngsters who have been raising money for Discovery Arts, a California organization that brings live performances of theater, dance and music to children suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.
"That's one reason why this, for me, has been the best tour ever," Rigby said. "It really gives me a different perspective on this show and how people react to it. Of course we have a lot of children and youngsters, but it's the younger adults, in their 20s and 30s, who I see having this amazing emotional reaction to this story.
" 'Peter Pan' is all about enjoying the adventures in life, the joys and the sorrows," she said, "and to be the vessel for that to come through is maybe the most rewarding part of doing this show."
But, she insists, this tour will be the LAST tour she does.
"I'm still going to be involved in theater," Rigby said. "But I feel I can say this with greater conviction this time - as much as I love doing this show, this is the last run for me."
presented by celebrity attractions
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday,
8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m.
Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. March 10
Where: Chapman Music Hall,
Tulsa PAC, 101 E. Third St.
Tickets: $15-$65. 918-596-7111,
Original Print Headline: Rigby back in famous role
James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478
Despite completing her "farewell tour" in 2004-2005, Cathy Rigby is back in the title role in "Peter Pan." "I changed my mind," she said, laughing. "I missed doing the show." Courtesy