Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby has discovered the older she gets, the more she understands and appreciated playing the forever young title character in Broadway's "Peter Pan."
"It's not about just feeling young, but also thinking young," said Rigby, speaking by telephone last week from her home just south of Los Angeles.
"I've been touring in this show for enough years that now, we are getting second generation audiences returning with their parents who saw me in this role as one of their first theater experiences."
Broadway In Chicago is bringing the two-time Emmy Award winning and two-time Tony Award nominated production of "Peter Pan" with Rigby still floating across the country in her now trademark role, previously made famous by Broadway icons like Jean Arthur, Mary Martin, Maggie Smith and Sandy Duncan.
The musical will play a two-week run at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph St., Jan. 30 to Feb. 10.
The last time Rigby brought the production to Chicago it was in February 2005 and billed as Rigby's farewell tour for her now famous role.
Fortunately, demand has kept Rigby still fighting pirates and saving island princesses.
Broadway star Brent Barrett plays the dual roles of the father Mr. Darling and also the villainous Captain Hook. They are joined by Kim Crosby as the mother, Mrs. Darling.
"Peter Pan" is produced by Rigby and her husband Tom under the umbrella of McCoy Rigby Entertainment, along with Nederlander Presentations, Albert Nocciolino in association with Larry Earl Payton, Michael Filerman, Heni Koenigsberg and La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts.
It's being directed by Glenn Casale who directed the 1999 Tony Award nominated and Emmy winning run of this production, which also starred Rigby, who made her professional stage debut as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" 30 years ago, but is more known as a two-time Olympic gymnast. She was the first American woman to win a medal in the World Gymnastics competition and now has 12 international medals, including eight golds.
She took over the role from Sandy Duncan and launched on Broadway in 1986.
And even though she celebrated her 60th birthday last month, she doesn't worry about still flying 30 feet above audiences.
The flying sequence choreographer is Paul Rubin aka "The Fly Guy", who has choreographed some of the most memorable flying sequences from the Tony Award winning Broadway production of "Wicked," in addition to the more than 1,500 flights of Rigby when she dons her green tights and pointed slippers and done more than 300 different productions of "Peter Pan" in more than 10 countries.
Since 1990, "Peter Pan" starring Rigby, has made four stops on Broadway.
"We just did a run in New York and China," Rigby said.
"Over the years, we've changed some of the technology for flying harnesses and technique. But the story and family themes remain the same, beloved by all."