Cathy Rigby: Finding The Magic In 'Peter Pan' | KCUR

Cathy Rigby: Finding The Magic In 'Peter Pan'

Jul 27, 2012

When two-time Olympian Cathy Rigby retired from gymnastics at the age of 19, she started to pursue other career possibilities, including theatre. 

In a recent interview backstage at Starlight, Rigby, now 59, told KCUR’s Laura Spencer that the skills are quite different, but the discipline in gymnastics and acting is the same.

Interview Highlights

Acting vs. Gymnastics:  "Gymnastics is about perfection. It's about doing things by rote every single time. And acting, while I started training that way to get everything exactly correct and perfect, it was just the opposite."

"It (acting) was yes, have your technique, understand what you’re doing onstage, understand how to make a character work, and then you need to just let it go and allow it to happen. You can’t white knuckle it. And that was probably the most difficult thing to get over. To just be alive on stage. And not be in your head so much. "

On watching the Olympics:  "I worked for ABC sports for 18 years and followed so intently every move that every gymnast made from every country, practically. And then I got away from it, had children, and started my theatre career."

"I follow it every four years, I’m not there on a day-to-day basis. Lots of things have changed, including the scoring and the style, and the strategy for teams and individuals."

"I watched the trials and I find that despite all the changes in it, there’s still this kind of gut feeling when I’m watching them. And knowing exactly if they’re on, if they’re off.  If they’re slightly off, my stomach just clenches and I know how desperately they are trying to be perfect, and they want it, and they have one chance every four years to prove themselves. So it’s almost a little bit difficult to watch because you care so much. And you know the work and time they put into it."

"And it’s such a precarious sport. All sports are, but this one, when the margin for error is so so slim and a little bauble on the balance beam can be the difference between 1st and 8th place, so it’s a little bit nervewracking."

Final tour for Rigby as Peter Pan: "I really do know that this is the last time. I’ll do other shows. And I love doing other shows. I will hand over the tunic of leaves and the fairy dust and let someone else do it."

Cathy Rigby stars in Peter Pan at Starlight Theatre through Sunday, July 29, 2012. NOTE: The Starlight website lists information about alternate routes, other than 63rd Street: "Due to road construction, 63rd Street is closed from Swope Parkway to Hwy 71."