The new touring production of “Peter Pan” is the old, familiar family favorite wrapped in colorful new trimmings. “Pan” veteran Cathy Rigby in the title role is tried and true, but the pretty packaging — new sets, costumes and choreography — also will delight audiences throughout the holidays and beyond.
Rigby is as spunky as ever as Peter — full of energy and boyish derring-do. And Paul Schoeffler, as the evil but hapless Captain Cook, serves as a worthy foil. Elisa Sagardia, Michael Lavolpe and Paul Tiesler are well cast as Wendy, John and Michael Darling, respectively — suitably innocent without becoming saccharine.
John Iacovelli’s new sets strike just the right note of fantasy. They’re real enough to lure the audience into believing the story, but whimsical enough to coexist with the tale’s more fanciful elements — the tinkling fairy, the canine nurse and the ticking crocodile. The Lost Boys’ underground fort on the Island of Neverland is every boy’s dream, a comfortably messy hideaway full of nooks and crannies and improvised playthings.
Perhaps the most noticeable new element in this production is the choreography, by Patti Colombo. It draws on many sources, from folk dance, jazz and ballet to something that even looks a little bit like hip-hop. Sometimes delightful, as in a tarantella in which the fierce pirates mince around like old , married couples learning ballroom steps, the choreography can be confusing elsewhere, as when the Neverland Indians take the stage dancing a ballet.
Still, the Indians’ “Ugg-a-Wugg” number is one of the highlights of the show, re-orchestrated to include a cacophonous percussion interlude that has every Indian and Lost Boy pounding on the floor with sticks.
Director Glenn Casale’s staging is admirably intelligible, making the action clear even to the far rows of the balcony. His use of effects — flying, swamp mist, magical lighting — is fun without getting in the way of the story’s heart: Is it best to grow up and find a home, or to stay forever young and, perhaps, a bit too free?