Interview: Surprised by the part, actress sprang into the magic (and rap) as the Bard’s woodland fairy at American Players Theatre.
By Lawrence B. Johnson
Cristina Panfilio, the disarmingly sly and funny – and athletic! – Puck in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at American Players Theatre, didn’t see it coming. The role of the mischievous fairy sprite with magical powers is normally played by a male actor. When director John Langs phoned her and cold-pitched her the part, she was flattered, of course. She was also overwhelmed by the thought.
“I connect more naturally to Helena,” says Panfilio, referring to one of a quartet of young lovers whose tangled pairings Puck only further confuses in the play’s crazy mash-up of human frailties and fairy machinations. “I know what it’s like to be the girl who’s not the prettiest but is OK with that. I played Helena in a Short Shakespeare production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. But Puck is iconic. What are you supposed to do with this character? There didn’t seem to be any rules. But once I stepped back and worked through the play and the words – it’s all in the language – it became fun.” Read the full story »