A Review From the Front Row!
On Monday, February 7, 2005 All My Children celebrated its 35th Anniversary with a song and dance review on Broadway. Soapdom's cub reporter, Heidi Lystad, was in the front row at NYC’s Town Hall Concert Hall and brings you all the glamour and glitz from this amazing night. Read on...
As a long time “All My Children” fan I was thrilled when my sister presented me with a ticket to the "All My Children’s 35th Anniversary Concert,” a benefit to help Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Of course I was happy to be helping such a worthy cause, but c’mon...a chance to see my favorite Pine Valleyites at their singing and dancing best!...woo hoo!...this was gonna be a great night...it didn't even matter that we were sitting in the nosebleed section...I was in!
It's really quite remarkable if any show lasts 35 years on the air, let alone a daytime drama, but AMC has done it. I started watching All My Children, or "The Kids" as I affectionately refer to it, in 1976 - right before it went to an hour-long show. I used to rush home from school to catch it before finally getting - what was then - a very expensive VCR! I've been taping every day of my life since then.
Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks before the concert. My sister mentions to me that she got a call from the concert’s head ticket guy. It seems that due to some sort of error with the online ticketing - smile - the cheapy seats we purchased were sold out and "would it be okay if they upgraded us to a higher priced seat?"...uh hello?...would it be okay?...uh no...we'd rather sit in the last row in the theatre!!...when the tickets arrived we were astonished to see we were upgraded to the front row!! Front row at Town Hall in New York City!! If Susan Lucci (Erica) were to sweat or if Cameron Mathison (Ryan) spat...I'd feel it!...LOL!...this was gonna be a great night indeed.
The place was packed when we arrived. It was hard to get in the center door because Kelly Ripa (ex Hayley) and Finola Hughes (ex Anna) were seated together and fans were flocking around them thereby blocking the aisle. Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) and her hubby, Bob Guiney, were right in the middle of it too. I didn't even attempt to approach them but they seemed to be enjoying themselves posing for pictures, chatting with fans and signing playbills and the anniversary posters that were on sale for 10 bucks.
I finally made my way to my seat in Row A - smile - and started scanning the crowd. I immediately spotted Lawrence Lau (ex-Greg) in the back row. He looked exactly the same as he did when I cried over him and Jenny in the 80s. My sister then pointed out that Mark LaMura (ex-Mark) was sitting next to him...LaMura I didn't recognize - he was thinner and grayer than I remember. I also caught a glimpse of Karen Lynn Gorney (ex-Tara). The place was packed but I really didn't spot any other famous faces although I'm sure they were there...everybody loves All My Children!
The show finally started at 8:15. The old and current theme songs played while the band took the stage and then the fun began. Seth Rudetsky, a NY comic/actor who recently played Erica's dance coach while she was in Las Vegas (thank goodness that's over!) started the show with a take off of "A Chorus Line"...he was looking for the most talented people in Pine Valley. A group of singers and dancers sang “I Hope I Get It” while playing auditioners with assorted AMC characters popping in to audition too...it was a riot! David Canary auditioned as both Adam and Stuart...Eden Riegel (Bianca) and other dancers were asked if they had a boyfriend - Eden was told she'd be perfect when responding "no.” Alexa Havins (Babe), Justin Bruening (Jamie) and Jacob Young (JR) tried out while a "baby" was tossed around...Susan Lucci (Erica) commented that the dance coach looked familiar...instead of dancing with a top hat and cane, James Scott (Ethan) used a rifle...Leven Rambin (Lily) lost her sunglasses and freaked out when the dancers revealed red blouses. It was great! There were so many inside jokes. I loved it. That bit ended with everyone singing and holding up their head shots (like in ‘A Chorus Line’…get it…wink wink). Then the concert began.
Hosted by Cameron Mathison (Ryan) and Walt Willey (Jack), who sang a very funny rendition of "Here in Pine Valley," the concert, dedicated to the memory of the late Ruth Warrick (Phoebe), featured mostly Broadway numbers sung amazingly by Eva LaRue (Maria) She got all sexy on top of a piano and then belted out the end. Tanisha Lynn (Danielle) singing a very sweet rendition of “Where The Boys Are” (with the very adorable Michael B. Jordan (Reggie) popping out at the end of her number to give her a flower),
Other performers included Jill Larson (Opal), Elizabeth Hendrickson (Maggie) and Eden Riegel, Jacob Young, Alicia Minshew (Kendall), Christian Campbell (ex-Bobby), Julia Barr (Brooke), a special appearance by Kathy Brier (Marcie, OLTL), Bobbie Eakes (Krystal) who did an amazing heartfelt version of "Georgia on My Mind," and Aiden Turner (Aidan) being a really good sport and singing "All I Care About is Love" complete with showgirls and feathered boas!
The standouts of the evening for me were Vincent Irizarry (David) pouring his heart and soul into "This Is The Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde and the incredible Tonya Pinkins (Livia) in her ultra hot pink mini shimmery dress and matching shoes giving her Tina Turner best to "Addicted to Love". My oh my can that lady move!! She certainly gave Ms. Turner a run for her money and brought down the house! Good for her!
The actual "star" of the show, Ms. Lucci, gets the award for most costume changes. She really looked amazing and did great. Granted, she didn't hit every note she attempted, but I was still pleasantly surprised at how relaxed and at ease she was with a microphone. The painfully thin but beautiful Ms. Lucci first sang a very cute and obviously self-directed song called "Winning Isn't Everything.” She poked fun at her Emmy status and the audience laughed right along with her. After changing into a gorgeous red sparkly gown she sang the sultry "It's Alright With Me.” Funny enough, the same song she sang while slinking on the piano after being Libidozoned by David! For her final number, LaLucci looked resplendent in a slinky white gown as she belted out "New York City Blues.” While the crowd roared with applause the entire cast took to the stage to sing, "There's No Business Like Show Business.”
Noticeably absent were Michael E. Knight (Tad), Thorsten Kaye (Zach), Eileen Herlie (Myrtle) and John Callahan (Edmund). But everybody else was there along with James Mitchell (Palmer), Terri Ivens (Simone), Jeff Branson (Jonathan), Ray MacDonnell (Joe) and Natalia Cigliuti (Anita) singing their hearts out for a worthy cause, and to celebrate with their fans, 35 wonderful years of laughs and tears in Pine Valley.
Susan Lucci acknowledged the fans and the fact that they wouldn't be where they are now if not for us. That's nice to know but for me, “The Kids” is like a good book that never ends so it’s kinda cool that Ms. Agnes Nixon chose an open book to open her show. The characters may change but I know there's always another chapter tomorrow. Here's to another 35 years of magical storytelling. Happy 35th Annuversary, AMC!
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