WNYT.com

The magic of Peter Pan flies into Schenectady

Posted at: 04/10/2013 6:07 PM
Updated at: 04/11/2013 10:52 AM
By: Jessica Layton

SCHENECTADY - It's a dream Cathy Rigby has spent more than three decades fulfilling. She has a voice that will give you goose bumps. And there are stunts that will take your breath away.

"I find it to be exhilarating," says the 60 year old actress.

Once known as "America's Sweetheart of Gymnastics," Rigby plays the part of the fictional yet famous boy who would not grow up.

"I tell people when they come to the show they'll find their child inside them and there's just a joy about it," Rigby said.

She's been making magic on stage as Peter Pan for 35 years. And she still gets a thrill soaring into the audience.

So what is it about this performance that inspires generations of audiences?

"The freedom to think and feel and do whatever you want, including flying," Rigby answers.

It's an adventure she's happy to share with anyone willing to give it a whirl. Wednesday morning, the famed Olympian, actress and motivational speaker gave NewsChannel 13's Jessica Layton a lesson in how to fly on stage.

It involves belts, buckles, a love of heights, fairy dust and some level of trust.

Rigby has two flying choreographers, who use pulleys to control her movements: up and down, side to side.

Paul Rubin, whose been traveling with Rigby for 20 years, calls it a dance between three people.

But the dances are winding down. Rigby's final Peter Pan performance is in a few weeks. And as she closes the curtain on this part of her storied career, this legendary tale will remain one of her favorite chapters.

"I think I have done everything I can with the role. I will put it away, but I'll always have the memories," Rigby said fondly.

Rigby joked that playing a 10 year old boy has kept her in great shape through the years. But in truth, it is a physically grueling role.

What's next for this Olympian, actress, sports commentator, wife, mom and grandmother? Rigby says she hopes to do more theater and would love to be on Dancing With The Stars. But for now, she's enjoying the moment.

Peter Pan runs at Proctors Theatre through Sunday.