Tricia Cast On Her Return As Y&R's Nina

Tricia Cast, who originated the role of Y&R’s Nina Webster in 1986, was both surprised and thrilled when the soap contacted her about appearing for a short stint that would also include the upcoming 12,000th episode later this month. “It wasn’t like the show called my people and then my people called me because I don’t have people,” chuckles the actress. “The casting office called me directly and asked if I could come back. I immediately said yes and, ‘That would be fantastic. I’m in!’ I’m looking forward to anything they have for me. I couldn’t be any more excited about it. I think it’s great, and I can’t believe it’ll be 12,000 shows! I think they were in the 3,000s when I was there in the mid-’80s. It’s just unbelievable and I’m so tickled.”

After accepting the invitation, Cast shared the news with only one person. “Lauralee [Bell, Christine] was my first call,” Cast reveals. “Other than that I didn’t tell anybody because they asked me to keep it a secret, so I was a good girl. Lauralee and I basically grew up with each other. I was only 20 when we first started working together.” In returning to set, she reports, “I just picked up where I last left off because everything is where it’s supposed to be, you know what I mean? The building is familiar, the same camera and boom guys are here, all my friends are still in the makeup and hair room, so it’s a really lovely thing. It feels like I’m back in the fold.”

This week, Nina drops in to check on Chance after he had been shot, but her first real connection will be with two friends from her past. “On my first day I worked with Lauralee and Tracey Bregman [Lauren],” shares Cast. “It was so wonderful to be back on that stage and with those people. It was like riding a bike but 10 feet off the ground.”

We won’t see Nina in any scenes with Chance, however, until Cast returns at the end of the month for more appearances. Although Donny Boaz took over the role of Phillip Chancellor IV over a year ago, his TV mom didn’t even know until her return was a done deal that Nina’s second born was living in Genoa City again. “I’m not on any kind of social media, so I was totally unaware that Chance was back on the show because I’m in my own little world in Tennessee,” she explains. “I haven’t shot my scenes with Donny yet but I’m really looking forward to meeting him. Everyone says I’ll love him. It’ll be interesting to see how Nina reacts to her son being with Abby. She didn’t like his first girlfriend, Chloe, at first but then she warmed up to Chloe, so you just need to prove yourself to Nina.”

Even with the show now exercising many safety measures to protect the cast and crew from the coronavirus, Cast says she didn’t miss a beat in adjusting. “Following those rules have been no problem for me,” she shares. “We’re all professionals so we can deal with whatever comes up. It’s the world we live in and just the new normal now. Instead of dressing rooms, we hung out on the patio, so it’s just small changes. Yes, of course, it’s all a little strange but it’s too delicious to have any negative feelings. It’s all good and we’ll just find our way to do what we do. It’s a small thing compared to the joy of seeing everybody and actually performing on the stage again. It overshadows any little things that might be cramping our style. It’s no big deal.”

She does acknowledge feeling a void without the presence of former co-star Kristoff St. John (Neil), who passed in February 2019. “I miss my friend,” Cast sighs. “We were children together, working on BAD NEWS BEARS. I was 12 and he wasn’t much older, so we knew each other for a long time. When I heard he passed, I cried. I still can’t believe he’s gone. It’s so tragic when I’m on set and he’s not there. It just doesn’t seem right.”

The actress has tried to keep in touch with other alums, including Thom Bierdz (ex-Phillip). “I haven’t seen him since 2013 but we email back and forth,” she notes. “I loved how Nina and Phillip became friends, I thought it was a beautiful progression for them. There’s no real animosity between them because she’s not the least bit bitter that he’s gay. He had some problems and she certainly had some problems, but they grew up, worked it out and realized the friendship they had was too good to throw away, so why not be there for each other? I would like to see Phillip and Nina together again as good friends. It would be a nice story to see them interacting with their son again.”

As for her personal life, Cast’s husband, singer/ songwriter Bat McGrath, passed away last year and now, life in Tennessee “is very quiet but satisfying. I quilt, grow tomatoes and putter around the house. My husband’s kids are grown and are such wonderful, smart and good people. They have their own kids and they’re very precious — who wouldn’t love being a grandma to them?”

Cast adds that she’s ready to reprise Nina anytime Y&R needs her. “I would love to come back,” she smiles. “I don’t mind commuting, that’s never been a problem for me and I’m a good traveler. I’m a carry-on girl, so I don’t check in baggage and just go on through. I would adore doing this some more. I’m having so much fun and want it to continue.” “I’m having so much fun and want it to continue.”