Cathy Rigby never dreamed that a life that started with somersaults could lead to a career in a lead role on the Broadway stage. The Peter Pan character she now plays doesn't really want to grow up, and Rigby - now 60 years old - can relate.
Rigby's Olympic ability as a teenager in 1968 made her an American star, flying through the air with such talent and grace.
Forty-five years later, she's still flying - this time as Peter Pan, with shows this weekend in Nashville at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
"I would never in a million years guess I'd have this kind of career in the theater. I first took voice lessons at 20 years old and was so shy that I'd cry when I had to give an oral book report at school, let alone stand out on a stage," Rigby said.
With more than 3,000 performances under her belt, Rigby relishes the opportunity to perform for audiences, not judges.
"It's much like learning a new skill in gymnastics. There's a thrill to play and have that adventure of swordfighting and dancing. It's very much like gymnastics, I think, in many ways," Rigby said.
Rigby is proof that hard work usually leads to achievement.
"If you work hard and practice, you will get better. If you love what you do, then you'll work even harder at it," she said.
Her success is now found through audience giggles and applause and the upbeat story of the kid who could fly.
"In a day and age where things are cynical and kids grow up way too fast, it's fun to see them get engrossed and captured by the magic of Peter Pan," Rigby said.
Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan runs through Sunday at TPAC. Tickets are still available by visiting the box office or http://www.tpac.org/.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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