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THEATER REVIEW: Cathy Rigby is back as “Peter Pan”

That mischievous but charming boy who won’t grow up is back in town to teach the Darling children to fly.

Former Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby is on hand to reprise the title role in the musical version of “Peter Pan” through Nov. 18 at San Diego Civic Theatre. Glenn Casale directs.

Rigby was nominated for a Tony the first time she played the role in 1990, and has been playing it off and on ever since. It appears she has lost neither acting chops nor physical ability, though she will be 60 this year. She can still do the flips, cartwheels and handstands (sometimes even while singing), and truly is an enchanting performer.

You recall the story: The eternal boy Peter Pan has come to the Darlings’ window to listen to the bedtime stories Mrs. Darling (Kim Crosby) tells her children Wendy (Krista Buccellato), John (Lexy Baeza) and Michael (Julia Massey).

One night Mrs. Darling sees him and takes his shadow; when he comes to get it he meets Wendy and convinces her to come with him to Neverland by offering to teach her to fly. It seems Neverland is populated in part by Peter and a group of boys who need a mother – and someone to tell them stories. Wendy wakes her brothers and they all go off to adventures in Neverland.

There they encounter the dashing but mean Captain Hook (Brent Barrett, who also plays the mild-mannered Mr. Darling) and his gang of pirates. Hook – booed by the audience at his entrance (“Oh, grow up!” he vamps) – is amusingly pursued by my favorite character, the green-eyed crocodile (Clark Roberts) who ate Hook’s hand and wants more.

Also on the island is a group of Indians including Tiger Lily (Jenna Wright), whose dancing prowess lights up the stage whenever she’s on it.

Buccellato’s lovely soprano voice and fine acting make an excellent counterpoint with Rigby; Massey and Baeza pull their weight as her brothers Michael and John as well.

The one rousing production number – “Ugg-a-Wugg,” which opens the second act – is almost worth the price of admission, featuring fine dancing by all and a drum-off between Peter and Tiger Lily.

This musical production of James M. Barrie’s children’s classic is handsomely mounted, well acted and sung, boasts a fine 14-member orchestra and offers the pièce de résistance – flying people! What more could you want? Bring the kids – they’ll love it.

The details

“Peter Pan” plays through Sunday, Nov. 18, at San Diego Civic Theatre, Third and B streets, downtown.

Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6 pm.

For tickets, click HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.