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Home Features Fan Tales Lunching with Oakdale’s Finest

Lunching with Oakdale’s Finest


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The ATWT's Fan Club Luncheon Rocks in NYC

ATWT Fan Lunch 2004

Kayla Simon and
Trent Dawson (Henry, ATWT)

What do you get when you combine an early spring Saturday in New York, 430 dedicated fans and the cast of the most recent Emmy winner for Outstanding Daytime Drama?  You get the 2004 AS THE WORLD TURNS Fan Club Luncheon, which was held at the Marriott Marquis on March 27, 2004.  Although the morning started out drizzly, the showers let up as we made our way to the Marriott’s Westside Ballroom for the event, and that set a good precedence for a day that was filled with laughs and surprises for fans and cast members alike.

 

Judy Bloodworth and Michael Park (Jack, ATWT)  Photo Courtesy www.loger.net

The first surprise of the day came early on in the event, just as the majority of fans were settling in to greet their tablemates and eat (the menu for the afternoon consisted of different varieties of rolls, mixed-green salad, a chicken or vegetarian entrée, and chocolate mousse.)  Michael Park (Jack), who at past fan club luncheons shared MC duties with Martha Byrne (Lily), made a special appearance in the ballroom, which thrilled the crowd because they had assumed he would not be in attendance due to a prior commitment in upstate New York.  Unfortunately, not everyone who wanted to meet Michael and get autographs and pictures was able to do so, but for the lucky group of fans who were, including longtime Jack and Carly supporter and first time luncheon attendee Judy Bloodworth, it was a dream come true.  Michael certainly proved to them what a class act he really is!

I will be the first person to tell you that I rarely, if ever, spend very much time at soap events eating.  I tend to be one who would rather move around the room and talk to people; see what storylines are creating the most buzz and which actors the fans are most looking forward to meeting.  This year’s ATWT luncheon proved to be no exception to that, although in this case I found myself paying particularly close attention to the different ways that specific fan groups showed support for their favorite actors.  For example:

There were the temporary tattoos that “Henry’s,” AKA Trent Dawson’s, fan club were handing out.  Fans of Roger Howarth (Paul) also made their presence known, with their buttons, table markers and autograph books, as did the Eileen Fulton (Lisa) supporters, who made flags for their favorite lady. 

Poster courtesy www.loger.net

But perhaps the most creative show of support came from the Anne Sayre Fan Club, who also made a splash at the 2003 fan club luncheon with their “Mitzi Sticks.”  Roger Newcomb, ASFC President and creator of the online soap opera SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES (www.scriptsandscruples.com), designed election-style posters specifically for the fan club event.  Each poster contained the slogan “MITZI MATTERS ‘04,” the URL for Anne’s official website (annesayre.com) and the tag line “TRUTH, LIBERTY AND GOOD FASHION FOR ALL,” and members of the fan club distributed the posters around the ballroom so that Anne could see them when her name was announced during the actor introductions.  Roger also handed out five poster board letters to people at our table, one to correspond to each letter in the name “Mitzi,” and those too were used to represent the fan club’s admiration for Anne.  She is an amazing person, and I was honored to participate in something that was intended to thank her for everything she has done for us!

 

Kevin and Kayla Simon with MC, Martha Byrne (Lily, ATWT)

Gratitude was also on the mind of Luncheon Master of Ceremonies, Martha Byrne, who spoke on behalf of all of her cast mates when she thanked the event attendees for their continuing support of the show.  She recognized those fans that had made their first trip to the fan club luncheon, as well as the experienced luncheon participants, and clearly stated that the day was all about them. 

These opening remarks paved the way for the actor introductions, which were filled with fun side commentary from Martha, such as the fact that Paolo Seganti (ex-Damian) could return to the show because his TV son Christopher Tavani (Luke) is still around (a possibility that was not lost on the fans), and that Brett Groneman (Will) is “gonna get it” for murdering Rose. 

Jennifer Ferrin (Jennifer, ATWT), Bill Hodgkins and Chris Beetem (Jordan, ATWT)Photo:  Bill Hodgkins

The actors in attendance were: Christopher Tavani, Anne Sayre, Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda), Peyton List (Lucy), Agim Kaba (Aaron), Cady McClain (Rosanna), Maura West (Carly), Cole Kachelhoffer (Parker), Brett Groneman, Benjamin Hendrickson (Hal), Anthony Herrera (James), Jennifer Ferrin (Jennifer), Chris Beetem (Jordan), Réal Andrews (Walker), Jessica Dunphy (Alison), Bailey Chase (Chris), Tamara Tunie (Jessica), Peter Parros (Ben), Joanna HartsHorne (Sarah), Ernest Waddell (Curtis), Daniella Alonso (Pilar), Trent Dawson (Henry), Terri Columbino (Katie), Mark Collier (Mike), Scott Holmes (Tom), Ellen Dolan (Margo), Kathryn Hays (Kim), and Eileen Fulton. 

Unfortunately, Ellen Dolan had to leave right after she was given the opportunity to personally thank the fans, for she had rehearsals for her upcoming role in the WorkShop Theater Company’s production of GRACELAND.  However, the attendees were soon pleased when another cast member, Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily), made an appearance at the luncheon with her daughter, Sophie.  There was also plenty of cheering for the show’s expectant mothers, Anne Sayre and Terri Columbino.  Both women were absolutely glowing!

In past years, some sort of entertainment segment typically followed the actor introductions, whether it was a series of performances by the musically gifted cast members (such as the rocking rendition of Elton John’s classic song “Crocodile Rock” by Craig Lawlor (ex-Adam) in 2002) or in the case of the 2003 event, scene reenactments that involved both actors and fans.  But in 2004, this segment was cut from the luncheon agenda in order to allow fans more “meet and greet” time with the actors, which for all intensive purposes was the main reason why they came to the event in the first place.  It was especially good for those people who were new to the luncheon experience-they could potentially meet more actors than they ever could have before!

Teri Colombino (Katie, ATWT) and Mark Collier (Mike, ATWT)

The question then, of course, became “What order do we go in for autographs and pictures?”  Every fan had to decide that on a personal basis, because there was no protocol to follow.  For the actors, however, they were assigned to specific tables around the outside perimeter of the Westside Ballroom, and many were seated with frequent co-stars: Maura West and Benjamin Hendrickson; Martha Byrne and Anne Sayre; Peyton List and Agim Kaba; Jessica Dunphy and Bailey Chase; Tamara Tunie and Peter Parros; Ernest Waddell and Joanna HartsHorne; Terri Columbino and Mark Collier; Scott Holmes and Kathryn Hays; Jennifer Ferrin and Chris Beetem.  This kind of arrangement meant that there were fewer lines for the fans to wait through, since they could meet two actors at one time.  In Terri and Mark’s case, however, it almost proved to be too much, for their line never once let up during the entire autograph session.  It was very obvious that the legion of loyal Katie/Mike followers adore the characters no matter what the current state of their relationship is!

 

Kayla Simon and Trent Dawson (Henry, ATWT)

Being that this was my third consecutive fan club luncheon, I did not feel the sense of urgency for autographs and pictures that someone who had never been to an event of this magnitude before was most likely feeling.  There was a short list of cast members that I had not previously encountered that I wanted to say hello to, as well as a few old acquaintances (Anne Sayre, Trent Dawson and Réal Andrews) who always make me smile just by their presence.  As usual, Trent made me laugh like crazy, first with his comments about the ballroom lights going out (he said that it was time to “PAR-TY!”) and then with his suggestion that we take a picture with me sitting in his lap. 

 

Tamara Tunie (Jessica. ATWT) and Peter Parros (Ben, ATWT) with Kayla Simon.

I also got some excellent shoe shopping advice from Tamara Tunie (visit Toronto), and had a great deal of fun with Jennifer Ferrin and Chris Beetem.  They were really personable, and Chris even gave my friend a new nickname, “Dollar Bill” (it was in response to me saying that Bill’s name was “just plain Bill”). 

But for the most part, I was content to spend the afternoon talking with other luncheon attendees, and finding out why ATWT is a must-see show for them.  Many thanks to all of the friendly people that I met, in particular to Diana from Fort Wayne, IN, a five-year veteran of the fan club event and a huge Elizabeth Hubbard fan.  You definitely peaked my interest in a Lucinda/Henry pairing, and I could not agree with you more that what sets daytime actors apart is their genuine appreciation for the fans!

The 2004 AS THE WORLD TURNS Fan Club Luncheon may have ended with a “last call” for autographs and pictures, but the memories that were made that afternoon will last a lifetime.  Who knows how many people will be back to do it all again next year!

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