I noticed something in while watching the Cathy Rigby stage version of Peter Pan, that Peter is never touched by another character, unless he instigates the contact. He’ll take Wendy’s hand, sometimes, but he has to be the one to take her hand, she can’t take his, and anything beyond hand holding is off the table.
In fact, when Wendy tries to hug Peter when they first meet, Peter flat out tells her not to touch him.
Peter: I don’t have a mother.
Wendy: Oh, Peter!
Peter: You mustn’t touch me.
Peter: No one must ever touch me.
Wendy: Why not?
Peter: I don’t know.
Peter doesn’t know why he doesn’t like to be touched, but at least in this version of the play, he’s consistent; this isn’t a throwaway line like it has been in other versions. It’s made more apparent when the Lost Boys decide to grow up, and leave Neverland with the Darlings. When they say goodbye to Peter they don’t touch, The twins even try, but Peter rejects them, it’s the same for Tootles, Curly, (this version is missing Nibs for some reason), and Slightly who Peter doesn’t even touch when he names him captain and gives him pixie dust. These are his boys and he won’t even let them shake his hand.
Then Wendy says goodbye, and their farewell here is just more heartbreak on top of heartbreak, because Peter is heartbroken, has been since they all decided they were leaving, but instead of accepting comfort he again rejects physical contact.
Wendy: Peter, if another little girl should come along…one younger than I—Oh, how I wish I could take you in my—
[Goes to hug him, and he stops her]
Wendy: Yes, I know. Goodbye.
So, why don’t more versions do this? Why do they ignore this part of this great character? Yes, Peter Pan is fun and playful, mischievous, forgetful, and a bit unkind at time because everything is fun and games for him and people don’t get hurt in games, but I think this add a different depth to the character. He’s a broken boy who ran away from home because he didn’t want to grow up and die. He has a painful past, his mother moved on, had another child, and in a child’s mind that means she forgot him, it means she didn’t want him and that she forgot him. He’s hurt, but he doesn’t understand it and to him physical contact and affection are a foreign thing.
I would love to see this side of Peter Pan examined in fanfiction. Maybe, this Peter doesn’t fit with the animated Disney movies, or the 2003 live action version, but Peter Pan in Once Upon a Time, most definitely. I mean, think about it, stories where Felix, or Wendy, or even Henry, or some wonderful combination of them all, helping Peter through his past, helping him accept touch. I don’t have the skills to pull this off, but I know there are fanfic writers out there that do.
When Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby came to Boston for what promised to be the last time, my mom called me in my dorm room, asking if I wanted her to buy us tickets. I saw my roommate jump about a foot in the air out of the corner of my eye as I squealed excitedly.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of watching the 1960 Peter Pan (with Mary Martin as Peter), and I have adored everything about the show since then.
The night of the show was one of the most magical of my life. And it’s not like anything out of the ordinary really happened (aside from Cathy Rigby flying around above the audience wearing a Red Sox hat and shouting, “BOSTON STRONG!” which was also incredible), but just the show itself. I felt so like that little girl sitting in my grandparents’ basement, dancing around and waiting for the perfect moment when my grandma’s back was turned long enough for me to get away with climbing halfway up the stairs and attempting to fly alongside Peter, Tink, Wendy, John, and Michael.
After the curtain call and as people were trying to squeeze past me to file out of the theater, I immediately began collecting as much of the “fairy dust” confetti as I possibly could in a reasonable amount of time and with as much discretion as possible. I filled the envelope we had brought our tickets in, and it’s safe in my bedroom at home.
The next day, my grandma called my house to ask us how the show was. My mom answered and told her how much I especially loved it (and of course recounting my fairy-dust-gathering adventure on the floor of the Wang Theatre…) When she got off the phone, my mom came into my room and told me that my grandma had just reminded her that when I was not-quite-three years old, my grandma brought me to see Peter Pan at the North Shore Music Theatre. I have only a vague-at-best memory of going to see Peter live. For example, I didn’t remember that it was Cathy Rigby who had starred as Peter in the show my grandma took me to all those years ago…
and I didn’t remember that I had done the exact same thing - crawled around on the floor, picking up as much fairy dust as my sticky little hands could carry.
Okay, so…it’s taken me far too long to get around to typing this up, but oh my God! So, I got tickets to see Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan at Proctor’s for my birthday–front row, center stage, and honestly I couldn’t have been more excited. So last Friday, my Mom and I took a day to ourselves (our first in quite a while) and went to see it. And let me tell you, it exceeded my expectations. For the last nine or ten years, at least, all I’ve had to go by was the VHS performance of this lovely musical, and I couldn’t complain–I love it dearly. And when I found out that the tour was coming around here, I pestered my Mom about it; she likes the show, but I could never get her to clap along for Tinkerbell with the rest of the recorded crowd… So I made one condition to going: she had to promise she’d help bring Tink back to life. She promised, and when the time came she smiled at me and began clapping as furiously as we all did, because Cathy Rigby made me believe in faeries. Tink wasn’t just a ball of light dancing around the stage, she was an honest-to-goodness faerie with her own personality and everything. And even if you could see the strings for the harness, it was of no matter–Peter wasn’t being hoisted into the air, he was flying. It’s like a Disney movie–but better. Because Peter is really there; or rather, you’re really there, in Neverland with the Lost Boys. Speaking of the Lost Boys, they were great! There was so much going on with them, that even when they were fighting– or at the end, where they’re tied up and watching the pirates–you have to take your eyes from Peter or Tigerlily or the Darlings to see what the mischievous youths were up to…! and I may have found Slightly kind of attractive, but that’s besides the point And the Darlings! They were wonderful. Michael was absolutely adorable, and John was just great. xD Such a good sport when Peter spat his water out at him… I just can’t express how amazing it all was properly… And at the end, Peter really flew out into the crowd! It was really something… And then, after, I was able to meet Cathy Rigby, and I just… I was so excited–and nervous!–that I was shaking. I hope she didn’t think there was something wrong with me… ^^; It was just so surreal, it was like I was living in a dream. I have all of my fairy dust (except a pinch, which I gave to my Peter Pan-loving best friend) in a gold box where I keep all of my tickets.
I guess what I’m getting at, is it was probably one of the best days of my life. I honest-to-God never dreamed I’d be able to see it live–let alone meet Peter…! And I know none of them’ll probably really see this, but I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who made it possible. The cast of Peter Pan; Peter, Wendy, John, Michael, the Lost Boys, Hook, Smee, Tink, everyone! The crew of the show–everyone behind the scenes who made it possible. And lastly, to Proctor’s! You’ve all made a dream of mine come true. <3
i saw peter pan TWICE, once from the 7th row orchestra section
i got to see KIM CROSBY perform live which was just the best thing
and when peter flew over the audience, i ACTUALLY cried
then i met michael (who’s actually an adorable little girl!) and tiger lily (who has an insane set of abs) and they were both sweet and adorable
then i met brett barrett who played captain hook, which i was really excited about because i’d seen him in the DVD version of Kiss Me, Kate. He was so funny and adorable and I couldn’t even handle it. A little boy got scared because of his hook and he did EVERYTHING HE COULD TO MAKE HIM LAUGH AND SMILE. it was beautiful
then i FUCKING MET CATHY RIGBY
AND SHE SPRINKLED FAIRY DUST ON ME
AND SIGNED MY POSTER
AND I TOLD HER THAT ID BEEN WATCHING HER SINCE I CAN REMEMBER
AND SHE SAID THAT IT WAS ADORABLE AND SHE WAS SO HAPPY I COULD FINALLY COME TO NEVERLAND WITH HER.
AND I TOLD HER THAT SINGING “DISTANT MELODY” WITH HER WAS ON MY BUCKET LIST AND SHE SAID THAT IT WAS HER FAVORITE SONG OUT OF ALL THEM IN THE SHOW
then i walked away with my childhood dreams completely realized
thank you peter pan
*and a special thanks to @magicalribbons for inspiring me to make the bows!
What can I say? This show’s a classic. It was the final tour for Cathy Rigby, who, despite the many years of performing, was a wonderfully active Pan. The rest of the cast was great, but Hook especially was so much fun, played by one of my favorite actors, Brent Barrett.