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Cathy Rigby sued by composer over 'Peter Pan' musical

July 18, 2013|By David Ng
  • Cathy Rigby in a scene from the stage musical "Peter Pan."
Cathy Rigby in a scene from the stage musical "Peter Pan." (Michael Lamont / Pantages…)

Cathy Rigby, the former Olympic gymnast turned stage actress, is being sued for millions of dollars by a composer who claims that he hasn't been properly paid for his work on a production of "Peter Pan" that her company presented at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in 2004 and on a national tour.

Composer Craig Barna is claiming that McCoy Rigby Entertainment has breached its contract with him and has continued using music he created and orchestrated for the show without properly compensating him, according to court papers obtained by The Times.

He is also arguing that the company has wrongly licensed his work to other theater companies, and that conductor Keith Levenson, who worked on "Peter Pan," has been passing off the music and orchestrations as his own.

In all, the musician is seeking $2 million from the defendants, according to the suit that was filed Monday in the Supreme Court of the state of New York.

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Rigby and her husband, Tom McCoy, run McCoy Rigby Entertainment, which is based in Yorba Linda and presents stage musicals and plays at the 1,250-seat La Mirada theater. The actress has appeared in numerous stagings of "Peter Pan" over the years, but the version in contention was a touring version that began in 2004.

The composer is also claiming that Rigby's company subsequently used his music without permission for a later "Peter Pan" tour that began in 2011.

A lawyer representing all of the defendants denied the musician's claims. "We're confident that the proof will show that Barna's action has no merit whatsoever," said Santo Borruso.

Borruso said the plaintiff has previously brought legal action against Rigby and McCoy concerning "nearly identical" claims, but a judge dismissed the action in June.

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McCoy said separately that he and Rigby have known Barna for "some 40 years....  The claim is ridiculous. We're honorable and honest people."

Leslie Ben-Svi, a lawyer for the composer, said the previous case was dismissed without prejudice and was refiled this week.

He said in an email that the prior case provided hundreds of pages of musical score "which clearly demonstrate that [Rigby] continued to use Craig Barna's compositions and orchestrations without his permission and without paying him."

News of the refiling was first reported Wednesday by the New York Daily News.

At the time of the 2004 "Peter Pan" tour, Rigby said that it would be her last time playing the signature role. However, the actress has continued to appear in productions of the musical, including one that came to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in January.


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