Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan flies over audiences at ASU Gammage
The classic youthful tale of Peter Pan has always been, well, just that: classic. The story of a boy who refuses to grow up explores the fantasy of flying to faraway lands filled with magic. While the show amused the viewers under 12 years old, the heart and sparkle of the cast didn’t seem present during the opening night performance of “Peter Pan.”
This version of "Peter Pan" avoids distracting side plots and focuses solely on Wendy, John and Michael Darling’s adventures in Neverland. Cathy Rigby’s role as Peter Pan has been a major attraction for audiences of all ages. Rigby first starred as Peter Pan in 1974 and almost 39 years later still crows, back flips and kicks her feet over her head throughout the two-hour performance.
Rigby’s boyish demeanor onstage was a convincing foil to the “grown-up” villains, Captain Hook and Mr. Darling, both played by Brent Barrett.
Barrett did a fair performance as Mr. Darling, but the devilish character usually found in Captain Hook was missing during Tuesday’s show. Barrett seemed to have swapped the attributes of his characters: a straight-edged Hook and a charmingly deceitful Mr. Darling.
Tiger Lily’s (Jenna Wright) tribal dancing relieved the audience’s spirit, opening the second act with “Ugg-a-Wugg” and the instrumental “Distant Melody.” Even the young Michael Darling (Sophie Sooter) kept perfect beat with the rest of the ensemble — an impressive feat for a 10-year-old in footie pajamas.
Rigby’s scene with Peter Pan’s dying fairy, Tinkerbell, exemplified the necessity for audience interaction with younger theatergoers. “Clap your hands if you believe!” was followed by an auditorium of shouts and applause for Tinkerbell’s revival. Contradictory reactions of “boos” and “ews” surfaced each time Captain Hook appeared on stage.
The show ended with Peter Pan finally returning to Wendy’s window for spring cleaning only to find … well, you know the ending. Peter Pan took Wendy’s daughter Jane (Carly Bracco), leading her to a new adventure in Neverland, and as the window opened, the curtain closed.
Every child has once dreamed of battling pirates, saving Indians and encountering singing mermaids. The national tour of “Peter Pan” takes the audience back to their childhood where kisses were thimbles and growing up was out of the question.
“Peter Pan” is currently playing at the ASU Gammage through Sunday, Jan 13. Purchase tickets online at asugammage.com.
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Correction: Because of a reporting error, the incorrect actor was listed as Michael Darling. Michael was portrayed by Sophie Sooter.