Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Peter Pan"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark


"Peter Pan"

or
The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up

A Musical Production of the Play by

Sir James Barrie
Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh
Additional Lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Music by Moose Charlap
Additional Music by Jule Stein

Production Directed by Glenn Casale
Choreography by Patti Colombo

Scenery Design by John Iocavelli
Lighting Design by Martin Aronstein
Costume Design by Shigebu Yaji
Sound Design by Francois Bergeron
Musaical Direction & Additional Vocal Arrangements by Craig Barna
Production Stage Manager Michael McEowen

Mrs. Darling/Mermaid/Wendy Grown Up.....Barbara McColloh
Wendy Darling....................................................Elisa Sagardia
John Darling...................................................Michael LaVolpe
Michael Darling..................................................Drake English
Liza/Tiger Lily.............................................Susan Lamontagne
Nana/Bill Jukes/Crocodile......................................Buck Mason
Mr. Darling/Captain Hook.................................Paul Schoeffler
Peter Pan.................................................................Cathy Rigby
The Never Bird..............................................Danny Schmittler
Curly...................................................................Michelle Berti
Twin One.............................................................Janet Higgins
Twin Two.............................................................Doreen Chila
Slightly.................................................................K. W. Miller
Tootles/Jane.........................................................Aileen Quinn
Mr. Smee......................................................Michael Nostrand
Cecco..................................................................Tony Spinosa
Gentleman Starkey..................................................Sam Zeller
Noodler................................................................Randy Davis
Pirates and Indians
Kim Arnett, William Alan Coats, Rabdy Davis, Jeffrey Elsass,
Ray Garcia, Casey Miles Good, Brian Shepard


Before I end this review I will tell you something no reviewer will ever tell you, because they probably don't even know it. But to cut to the essentials, Cathy Rigby's entrance, leaping as every ex-gymnast dreams of doing through an open bedroom window spilling glittering fairy-dust from both hands, is a show-stopper for all ages. She is exactly what her posters promise, and that eternally youthful gamine-grin can light candles at thirty paces. Peter Pan's offhand insistence he has never been touched, his assurance that "I'll see what 'a kiss' is when you've put it into my hand" and his explanation that he left home the day he was born when he heard his parents talking of what he'd grow up to be --- all those things, things that will zing past the ears of kids still loudly explaining to shushing parents about flying-cables and the real person inside the dog-suit, will hit grown-ups right where they live. Then there's the "Ugg-a-Wugg" number in the middle of act II --- wherein Peter's lost boys and Tiger Lily's Indians form a single tribe --- that is a full-out onstage-drumming dance spectacular enough to bring the house to their feet cheering. There are subtly-detailed fantastic sets that only Las Vegas could up-stage, melodramatic hugger-mugger and hairsbreadth escapes, and a Rigby bow above the first balcony, and yes, a real live person inside that aligator.

But this is a show to which grown-ups take children --- in droves. That means there are three different audiences in the auditorium. Many of the kids and far too many of their parents will act as though this were television, discussing what they don't understand, and what they do --- often when the dialog on stage is imparting important information or making serious dramatic points only grown-ups will find moving. Notice that the show begins promptly at 7:30, has two intermissions, and is over at 10:00 p m to accommodate bedtimes. (Even so some parents will drag loudly protesting progeny out into the aisles during the epilog hoping to beat the crush to the doors.)

Because of impolite ambiant distractions, polite parents of polite children should get as close to the action as possible, and pay close attention to lovely details --- one of which is the bannister-end on the pirate's ship: Hook's lost left hand, caressing a small skull. Another reason to get close is that the sound system for this show is murkily muddy, so that hearing good dialog or even good lyrics over the ambient distractions is much harder than it ought to be.

Unaccompanied grown-ups should read my last paragraph very carefully.

Cathy Rigby toured a version of this show so soon after retiring as a Gold Medal Olympic gymnast that they wouldn't let her sing, but put the entire score on tape, and gave her two "fight scenes" that were, literally, routines on uneven parallel-bars. Since then she has learned to sing, excellently, and to act, until it is fair to say that Cathy Rigby isn't the star of this show --- Peter Pan is. That grin will still light candles at thirty paces, but it's Peter's grin now.

But I promised a revelation no other reviewer would make, and that is: theater costs money. Since no Boston press representative will trust me with comps, I saw the show on Thursday, 19 February, as an ordinary paying customer. I sat in the first stage-left center-aisle seat (F BALC Row A Seat 120) in the second balcony, for which I paid $58.50. There were cheaper seats --- I was offered a second-balcony box seat for $25.00 or last row for $49.50, but opted for one from which I could see te blocking roughly as it was intended. I have no idea what seats two floors below me, where legitimate reviewers who paid nothing sat, could have cost; I only know I couldn't afford one of them. As it is, $58.50 is slightly more than 10% of my total monthly income, and so the ugly question arises: is it worth it?

That depends, seriously, on how much you love theater. There were tenderly prickly moments between Wendy and Peter early on, and later on, that were delicately and gently moving. That "Ugg-a-Wugga" number is dynamite. Some sets and scenic effects and other scenes held interest while not getting perfect ten's from all judges. I bought my way in to make a point, but I love theater enough, I think, to count the money well-spent. Other unaccompanied adults will have to judge for themselves.

Love,
===Anon.


"Peter Pan" (till 1 March)
COLONIAL THEATRE
106 Boylston Street, BOSTON
1(617)931-2787

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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