Glenn Casale has an international directing career that seems to have only two gears: overdrive and off.
Mostly the California Musical Theatre artistic director bounces from one project to another, whether it's directing in Europe for Disney Theatricals or helming all but one Music Circus show here last summer.
Not too surprisingly, for a couple months at the end of the year Casale "hibernates," getting ready for the spring. At the end of January he jumps back into the fray, overseeing 10 weeks of auditions and callbacks with hundreds of actors in New York and Los Angeles as he casts the 2013 Music Circus season. That season will be announced Jan. 20.
Casale's already done his portion of the heavy lifting for "Peter Pan," a production starring Cathy Rigby, which comes this week to the Community Center Theater. Casale has directed Rigby's "Pan" productions since 1997, and the show has become a mini-franchise for McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the Southern California production company Rigby owns with her husband, Tom McCoy.
The couple met here in Sacramento 31 years ago, when the former world-class gymnast-turned-actor made her professional theater debut playing Dorothy in a Music Circus production of "The Wizard of Oz" and McCoy performed in the ensemble.
Rigby was the first American woman to medal in the world gymnastics championships and was a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic team (1968 and 1972). McCoy Rigby Entertainment operates the La Mirada Theatre and a variety of theatrical entertainment.
In 2004 Rigby came to Sacramento as Pan in what was at the time her "farewell tour." But she and McCoy took cues from performers like Cher and the Eagles that "farewell" doesn't mean necessarily mean "goodbye" for entertainers as much as it means "see you next time."
"People were bugging Tom about putting it back out," Casale said, sitting in his CMT office on J Street.
"They kept saying 'We need to see her again' and honestly I feel she's better this time out than she's been in a while."
The new production opened in La Mirada in the spring and traveled to China in the fall.
"Jaded theater people were coming in saying 'She's still doing it at 60?' " Casale said. "And they walked away impressed."
When Casale asked Rigby if she wanted to cut anything before they re-staged the show, she told him she wanted to do all the flying she's always done and a little more.
"She said, 'We've got to make sure they know I can do it,' she does flips now, and she never flipped before," Casale said.
Besides the physicality of Peter Pan, Rigby also digs deep into the psychology of the character and what writer J.M. Barrie was doing in the story.
"She is totally, fully immersed in that character, she knows it on so many levels," Casale said.
Casale's relationship with Rigby is just one of many he deftly manages that are professional in nature but personal in depth and loyalty. This summer the legendary Shirley Jones and her son Patrick Cassidy performed at the Music Circus because of their long-held respect for Casale. Jones called Casale "a wonderful director" whom she felt "very close to."
Gary Beach who originated the role of the flamboyantly gay Roger DeBris, "the worst director to have ever lived" for the Broadway production "The Producers," routinely turns down regional offers to play DeBris, but he did in the 2010 Casale-directed Music Circus production. At the time Beach said, "I'd only do it for Glenn."
There's more than friendship and sentimentality at work, though, in Casale's connections. As he remarked while directing "Music Man" this summer, "People know I'll make sure they're taken care of and when we go to work I'll be prepared."
For Disney he has productions of "The Little Mermaid" running in Amsterdam and Moscow, and he'll put it up in Japan this spring. His "Beauty and the Beast" has been hugely successful in Spain.
"It was big hit there in Madrid and Barcelona," Casale said.
"Now we've reduced the set so we can tour it to all the provinces for another year and a half. It's getting 95 percent audience capacity over there."
Casale appreciates his career and work with a sense of wonder while energetically approaching each assignment.
"I think I'm so lucky I can work like this, which is always the first thing," he said.
"When I get to go into these new theaters in new places, different countries, I go in and think 'Wow, I can really create in here.' "
What: The two-time Emmy Award-winning and two-time Tony Award-nominated musical production, starring Cathy Rigby
Where: Community Center Theater, 1301 L St, Sacramento
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through next Sunday; 2 p.m. matinees Thursday, Saturday and next Sunday
Information: Call (916) 557-1999, (916) 808-5181 or go to BroadwaySacramento.com