“Peter Pan” is, at its heart, a dark tale. A group of motherless children live together in a land filled with danger around every corner. One of them persuades three children to run away with him. A beloved friend comes close to death. Just when you’re beginning to trust someone, they leave you. And time, as always, marches on, changing everything.
The book and the play perhaps delve deeper into this darkness than the musical currently playing at Proctors, but the darkness is still there — which makes this a show that works on several levels. Children like the show for the bright Disney-fied colors, the magic, the wonder, the songs and, of course, the flying. The adults like it for more mature reasons — perhaps because it makes us think about our own mortality, our own childhood left behind, and those in our past who are our own Peter Pans, the children that will never grow up.
‘Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through April 14
HOW MUCH: $80-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
Up to expectations
Cathy Rigby in the title role (a role she has been performing, both on Broadway and in the touring company, on and off since 1991) did not disappoint. You would have no idea you were actually watching a 60-year-old woman play the boy from Neverland if you didn’t know who she was. Her portrayal was deep and thoughtful. It could have just been a glossy performance, but she truly allowed herself to feel the quieter moments, and the painful ones. And who better to perform the aerial work than a Olympic gymnast?
Brent Barrett’s Captain Hook was the perfect foil for Rigby’s perky Peter Pan. He was dastardly and cunning, but also darkly comical and somehow wise. The scenes where he had his pirates play various musical genres to help him think were among the best in the show. He was always a pleasure to watch; his Hook was world-weary, yet somehow still optimistic.
The supporting cast was similarly quite good, and the dance scenes were especially stunning. The sets were beautiful, with many levels for the cast to ascend to (and for Rigby to cartwheel and launch herself from.) And, of course, there are Nana the dog and the crocodile — the actors playing the animals got some of the biggest laughs of the night.
The only problem was the sound, which was extremely muffled in Act One, right from the beginning. However, by Act Two, it seemed somewhat better — whether it had been corrected, or my ears had gotten used to it, I’m not quite sure.
The children in the audience were utterly transported. It’s always such a joy to see children watch and enjoy live theater this closely, especially in this increasingly digital age. When trouble befell Wendy early on, a child in back of me asked, “Is Wendy really dead?” in a worried tone. The magic of theater still exists. It does my heart good to see that.
Peter asked us to help an ailing Tinkerbell by clapping if we believed in fairies. I’ve seen productions where Peter really has to exhort the audience to get applause. The response to his request was deafening.
This production made us believe in fairies, children and adults all.