Rachel Cantrell
The Mansion Media and Entertainment Center
189 Expressway Lane
Branson, MO   65616

For more information, contact:
Rachel Cantrell, The Mansion Theatre (818) 679-6134


Contrails of Fairy Dust Predicted for Branson Skies

Branson, Mo.: Cathy Rigby is on her way to get her hair cut — no doubt a “pixie cut” as she readies to reprise her role as the famous boy who wouldn’t grow up, but instead enchanted the hearts of those who dared to think lovely thoughts. Before she reaches the hair stylist, she takes a moment to reflect on what it means to be Peter Pan. “I get to be a kid for two hours every performance, eight performances a week,” she says. “What’s not to like about that?”
Like the character she has become so identified with over the last 20 years, the work never grows old for Rigby. With some 3,000 performances under her wings, the show is just as new and fresh and magical as the first time she made her entrance as Peter, flying in through the window of the Victorian home of the Darling family to look for his shadow. “Having done it so many times, I have to say Peter is much wiser than he used to be, but that doesn’t take away his innocence.”
Opening a three-month run at The Mansion Theatre on May 23rd, “Peter Pan” brings a new level of Broadway-style production to Branson, something Cathy Rigby is especially happy about. “It’s fun to be part of the first of anything, and bringing this kind of show to Branson may pave the way for more, high-concept musical theater.” She sees her show and The Mansion as perfectly suited for each other. The theater’s technical capabilities with rear-screen projection and rain curtains advance even further the spectacle that is Peter Pan. And, with the stage being as large as it is means this Peter may be flying higher, faster and farther than he ever has before.

Rigby as Peter Pan

It is that ability of Peter and the children (after they think lovely thoughts and get a sprinkling of fairy dust) to fly that audiences find most magical and memorable. The down side to soaring above the stage and audience are the occupational hazards, however rare.
The show’s potential for daring is exceeded only by the athleticism of its star. Rigby, the former Olympic gymnast, is hailed by critics for having made the role of Peter her own and infusing the entire performance with a level of energy rarely found in any big stage production. Every element of the show, from the scenery to the choreography to the soaring acrobatics, has been tailored either by or for Rigby to capitalize on her strength and physicality. “This is really a blessing,” she says. “Every time I catapult through that window in the opening act, it’s like a ride at the fair. I can hear the kids in the audience gasp; I can feel their excitement. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to have a real job!”
The Mansion production of Peter Pan features a cast of more than 30 people, many from Branson and the surrounding area. Notably among them is Peter’s nemesis, Captain Hook, played by Robert Westenberg of Springfield. “I approach Hook from an utterly tactical point of view,” Westenberg reflects. “He’s a charming S.O.B. who does what he does to survive and succeed. He’s the head buccaneer who uses force and intimidation to inspire awe and respect. There’s something archetypal about his villainy. He gloats, he revels in it. But it always shocks me just how easily bullies cave in,” says Westenberg, “which makes them all the more despicable!” A veteran of the Broadway stage, national touring companies, film and television, Westenberg now chairs the theater department at Springfield’s Drury University.
“It was a coup that we were able to get both Bob and his wife Kim to be with us,” says Cathy Rigby. Kim Crosby is cast in the show as both Mrs. Darling and the mermaid, two crucial acting roles in Rigby’s estimation. Crosby, who grew up in Springfield, met her future husband while they were on Broadway together in the original cast of “Into the Woods.” Westenberg says they were always drawn back to the beauty of Southwest Missouri, and when the opportunity to teach here surfaced four years ago there was little hesitation to move from New York.
Cathy Rigby gives Peter a vitality unparalleled in big stage performances. “People always tell me about their first experience seeing the show, who was in it and how it brightened their lives. Now they bring their children and grandchildren to see it, and in the process they experience its charms all over again for themselves.”

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