Move Over Mary, Emma’s Flying High

In 1905, Maude Adams played Pan. Jean Arthur flew in the 1950s production. In the 1990s, former champion gymnast Cathy Rigby made Pan her signature role. But it was Mary Martin whose name became identified with Pan: the peerless performance in the 1954 production, in which she starred, was directed by choreographer Jerome Robbins.  This became the paradigm.

In casting her Pans, Jen has a definite affinity for redheads. In 2000, Lizzy Sandorff led a wonderful cast in a stripped down production that eliminated cultural anachronisms, while retaining most of the wonderful score and all of the magical warmth of the story.

A decade later, Emma Walker-Thompson dons the tights and jaunty cap: her confident Pan is not a one-joke actor, a carefree good guy who refuses to grow up. He is also snotty, sarcastic, arrogant, and hormonal. Emma, a real-life tomboy, is a natural mover and leader, with a voice as clear and strong as a mountain stream after a snowmelt. She soars. But she is not alone: everyone involved in Jen’s hip riff on the classic deserves to crow. 

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