A successful film actor since the age of nine, Christina Ricci suffered from terrible stage fright when she made her Broadway debut in the 2010 remount of Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still, her first professional stage experience. "I never stopped being nervous," she says, "but at a certain point you realize that you just have to get out there and do it."
After playing a flight purser in last season's 1960s-set ABC series "Pan Am," Ricci returns to tackle her fears once again in A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare's whimsical comedy about foolish mortals and mischievous fairies, now being presented Off-Broadway by Classic Stage Company. Ricci stars as fair Hermia, one of four woods-wandering Athenians for whom true love runs anything but smooth.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream was one of my favorite plays as a child, so I really wanted to be a part of this," says Ricci, 32. "Growing up, I loved all the glitter and sparkle of the fantasy world. As an adult, I love the idea of a dream within a dream — what's a dream, what's reality, and the merging of those two worlds."
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Directed by Tony Speciale, who staged Unnatural Acts for CSC, the Midsummer cast also includes David Greenspan, Anthony Heald, Taylor Mac and Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth — stage veterans who inspire without intimidating. "I actually feel incredibly lucky, because everyone's been so warm and welcoming in both of my theatre experiences," Ricci says. "I can't thank them enough for how much they've helped me."
Neuwirth's participation as Hippolyta/Titania in particular has prompted various theatre blogs to take note of her and Ricci's Addams family resemblance: Ricci famously played Wednesday in the "Addams Family" movies, and Neuwirth originated the role of Morticia in Broadway's musical version. "We're definitely having a fun time in the ladies' dressing room," Ricci says with a laugh.
But even a friendship with show folk like Neuwirth can't change Ricci's one deep-rooted theatrical prejudice. "I really just don't like musicals," she states unapologetically. "There are a few times in Midsummer where people break into song, and I do enjoy that, but it's done with a light touch. I only enjoy singing in theatre when it's used very sparingly."
(This article appears in the May 2012 issue of Playbill.)