I heard (from a completely unreliable source) that Cathy Rigby arrived in Salt Lake City via a Delta Airlines flight.
But you'll never convince anyone who saw "Peter Pan" Wednesday night of that, for it seems she REALLY flew from Sacramento to Salt Lake City on a sprinkling of Tinkerbell's magic pixie dust on a flight pattern from "the second star to the right and straight ahead until morning."If you'd closed your eyes for a few moments during either of the two intermissions, the Capitol Theatre sounded more like an old-fashioned Saturday matinee, with a multitutde of anxious little kiddies chattering a mile a minute.
"Peter Pan" is pure fantasy. It's a trip into the magical world of Neverland.
This touring production, which has already been booked for a limited run on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre during the Christmas-New Year's holidays, marks the 35th anniversary of Mary Martin's landmark musical version (and revived again in 1979 by Sandy Duncan).
But Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby doesn't have to take a back seat to either of these seasoned Broadway performers. She's got a strong, well trained voice and an appealing freshness that gives this "Peter Pan" a flair and excitement all its own.
Rigby does athletic maneuvers in midair that are guaranteed to have youngsters in the audience awestruck.
She doesn't just whoosh across the stage - she cartwheels and somersaults, flips and flies with all the energy you'd expect from a little scamp who refuses to grow up.
And while the kiddies are oohing and ahing, the grownups are probably a little jealous of all the wonderful adventures that befall Peter Pan and his band of boisterous Lost Boys.
OK, maybe some of the moppets were a little fidgety after that l-o-n-g second act - the mother sitting next to me even conned her children into believing that Tinkerbell's recovery at the end of the second act meant that the play was over and they could leave (which they did) - but, overall, "Peter Pan" is more than two and one-half hours of enthralling entertainment.
We could go on and on, dragging every possible superlative out of our thesaurus, to describe Rigby's fantastic feats (if you think her aerial acrobatics look as daring as anything you've seen in the circus, you wouldn't be far off, considering that one of her earlier TV roles was in "The Great Wallendas"). But Rigby, whose husband is a coproducer of the show, has surrounded herself by a talented ensemble that more than keeps pace with her boundless energy.
Stephen Hanan, who was nominated for a Tony Award for his work in the original production of "Cats," is a wonderfully menacing Captain Hook (if this were melodrama he'd be booed right off the stage), and also does a fine turn as Mr. Darling, a proper British father who's entirely the opposite of the buccaneer.
Hook's rowdy band of pirates are mirthfully motley (with Don Potter a standout as Mr. Smee), and the rest of the ensemble, from the darling Darlings (Cindy Robinson as Wendy, Britt West as John and Chad Hutchison as Michael) to the robust Lost Boys and the Indians, is right on the money.
Two performers who grabbed a lot of attention were Bill Bateman as the Darling family's larger-than-life but immensely loveable shaggy dog Nana, and Barry Ramsey as Captain Hook's hungry nemesis, the tick-tocking crocodile.
Conductor-music supervisor Kenneth Farrell's 14-piece orchestra (including 10 musicians recruited locally) was first-rate, as were other facets of the production - Mariann Verheyen's costumes, Natasha Katz's lighting (especially Tinkerbell's antics) and Marilyn Magness' choreography.
The sets, too, were superb - especially James Leonard Joy's scenery for Neverland, which was a mindboggling explosion of color, and the show's other scenic effects, designed by Michael J. Hotopp and Paul dePass.
But it was Flying by Foy, the country's No. 1 expert on flying effects (they were responsible for the flying in nearly 100 productions of "Peter Pan" during 1989), that gave Rigby free rein - literally - to soar as never before.
When she sings "I'm Flying!" we believe it and go merrilly along for the ride.
Remember the advertising slogan for Christopher Reeves' first "Superman" film? It simply said, "You'll believe a man can fly!"
The same thing goes for this splendid production of "Peter Pan."
Rigby soars to new heights as the ever-youthful Peter, especially in the show's finale, when she swings right out over the audience, amost up into the balcony.
If you pooh-pooh pixie dust going into this show, Rigby will make a believer out of you before it's over.