The story of PETER PAN has always demanded a great deal of imagination, but it seems the production currently onstage at Fair Park Music Hall could use an extra sprinkle of pixie dust.
From the dim lighting, poor acoustics and slipshod choreography – thank god for the magic of Cathy Rigby. It seems Neverland has kept her young, indeed. She still spins overhead at alarming speeds and captures the mirth of a young boy in search of a mother.
The beloved J. M. Barrie play (later expanded into a novel) about a boy who couldn’t grow up has been charming audiences since 1904. The Broadway adaptation crafted in 1954 by Jule Styne, and Carolyn Leigh (with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) has featured theater mavens including Mary Martin and Sandy Duncan. But for the past two decades, Rigby has adopted a boyish pout and a penchant for flying.
It’s difficult to say whether this version of PETER PAN lost the stage magic it had when I was young child attending the theater with my family. Or if perhaps – like Wendy realizes in the final moments of the play – the story is better left for children.
Tinkerbell as a darting light, now seems outdated; in the world of WARHORSE, the Nana dog suit is nothing more than cute; and as it always has, the one-dimensional portrayal of Tiger Lily walks the fine line of childish and offensive.
All of the younger actors are endearing, from the Lost Boys to the Darling children. And Rigby’s tinkling voice is at once that of a mature woman and a young child on songs like “I Gotta Crow” and “I’m Flying.”
This tour of PETER PAN is worth seeing if only for the impressive acrobatics from the 59-year-old Rigby. Her magnetic performance redeems the show’s lesser qualities, keeping the magic alive.
Produced by Dallas Summer Musicals, PETER PAN is onstage at the Music Hall (909 1st Ave, Dallas) through July 22. Tickets are available online or by phone 214-691-7200.