Is there a performance or an event in your past that you cherish? One that makes you smile inside when you think of it? Get ready, here’s another opportunity for you and especially for you-plus-a- child or anyone who is a child at heart. Peter Pan opened last night at the Center for Performing Arts in San Jose and will run through November 25.
Sir James Barrie’s play has been performed around the world since 1904. The lead traditionally is played by a woman. (My first exposure featured Veronica Lake playing Peter when the play toured to New Orleans in 1951). I wondered why the title is Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan. Now I know. It’s because Cathy Rigby IS Peter Pan. Believably, remarkably, delightfully so. In addition to being a convincing, sympathy-evoking “boy who vows he will never grow up”, Rigby flies. (Her experience as a world class Olympic gymnast shines throughout.)
Peter is the captain of a band of boys, Lost Boys, who fell out of their carriages as babies and were not claimed. They yearn for mothers, or at least someone to tell them stories. Peter recruits Wendy Darling, who knows a bit about “and they lived happily ever after”, to fly back with him to NeverLand. Using a combination of fairy dust and positive thinking, he has Wendy and her younger brothers up in the air and flying, too.
In NeverLand the Darling children encounter the tribe of dancing Indians (who become converted from enemies to allies of the lost boys in their defense against the pirates, thanks to Wendy’s diplomacy). And the pirates! Their notorious leader is Captain Hook, played with panache by Brent Barrett, still smarting from losing his hand to a crocodile, during a long-ago battle with Peter.
The crocodile, as well the Darling family’s Nanny, a very large fuzzy dog, have important supporting roles. Evident throughout are the professionalism of the cast, set, the orchestra and choreography (I got a chuckle out of the “pirates tango”.)
If you go, try to experience it with a child – it will more than double the joy. Joshua, who turned five last week, and I were both enchanted. As we left the theatre, with no prompting, eyes still wide, he told me, “that was AWESOME”. It was for me too.
For more information, visit Broadway San Jose at www.broadwaysanjose.com