Daytime Emmy winner takes to the LA stage but returns to Pine Valley in time for the holidays
Soapdom caught up with Eden Riegel (Bianca, AMC) who’s embarking on a whole new life in Los Angeles, but All My Children and the company of actors she left behind are never far from her mind. Whenever she talks about any of them her face lights up like a Christmas tree. Even though she misses all of them terribly, she considers herself very lucky because Eva LaRue (ex Maria), Elizabeth Hendrickson (ex Maggie), and Amelia Heinlie (ex Mia, now Victoria, Y&R) now make their home in LA, too. Her good friend, Cameron Mathison (Ryan, AMC) lives in New York, but she sees him almost as much as she did in the Big Apple. “He’s out here all the time.” When Soapdom asked about Josh Duhamel (ex Leo, now Danny McCoy, Las Vegas), Riegel laughed, “He’s just been too busy with his show.” She hopes to connect with him real soon.
Like so many other young stage-trained New York actors, Riegel’s taking steps to create a whole new body of new work in film and television. But she can’t give up first love, the theatre, and on Tuesday night November 15th, 2005 she was center stage for the first time since arriving in Los Angeles. The Theatre At Boston Court in Pasadena, California showcased her remarkable talents in a staged reading of Agnes of God. As Agnes, the troubled young nun at the center of a horrifying controversy, Riegel found herself playing opposite some very formidable talent, Meredith Baxter and JoBeth Williams.
She auditioned for a staged reading of Agnes of God and got the part the minute she read the first lines. Michael Seel, Producing Director of the Pasadena theatre, as well as other staff members were blown away with Riegel’s audition, “It was something she wanted to read for. They were looking for someone to play this role in this reading series and they had asked for recommendations and she was one of the people who was recommended. The minute she read, it was all right, we’re done. We need to hire her because she just blew everyone else out of the water.”
Boston Court has formed a partnership with CCAP, which stands for Classical and Contemporary American Plays. Seel explains, “CCAP works with high school English lit teachers in the area and selects plays that they can use in their curriculum so that their students can learn about literature through the plays. We do two performances here, which are open to the public, then we do several matinee performances, where we bus high school students in who have been studying the text and then there’s a Q&A afterwards with the actors and the director and they talk about the script. So, Agnes of God, is one of those plays that these kids are familiar with, but is a well-written play and something that they can use to study English Literature.”
Riegel got her start in two big Broadway musicals, Will Rogers Follies and Les Miserables. The role of Agnes gives her an opportunity to sing once more. Only this time she uses her considerable vocal talents as a postulant singing in Latin, Ancient Greek and Old French at various points throughout the show. She was incredibly nervous, since she doesn’t speak any of the languages, than quickly realized it didn’t matter. They’re all dead languages. It would be hard to figure out the correct pronunciation. She sounds like an angel, just the way JoBeth William’s Mother Superior describes her.
In many ways, Riegel finds the play to have many of the elements she played in All My Children. “Agnes is raped, has a child, goes a little bit crazy, and has issues with her mother.” Anyone who watches All My Children can certainly draw comparisons between Bianca and the young virtuous and pious, Agnes. Clearly, Riegel has.
Riegel was a stranger to both of her co-stars, but it didn’t take them long to understand just why this astonishing young actress recently won an Emmy for her work on All My Children. From Seel’s perspective it all fell into place very simply, “The theatre beast that she is, she jumped at the opportunity to perform in this with Meredith and JoBeth.”
Soapdom wanted to know about the rehearsal process for a staged reading, which is extremely different from a full-blown stage production of any play. Seel explained, “They rehearsed outside of the theatre until the day of the first performance, about a week. Even though it’s a staged reading, they’re on book (meaning they have the script in their hands for reference) and there is still movement and they are in basic costumes, and there’s a basic lighting plot that they use so you get the sense and feel of what the show is.”
With a considerable stage background, Riegel has spent countless hours in New York theatres, but this 99-seat venue was a whole new experience. According to Seel, “She was thrilled the first time she saw the theatre. Boston Court built from the ground up, which is very unusual and has actually never happened in Los Angeles that an intimate theatre was built from the ground up. Usually they’re conversions from storefronts, but like most actors when they walk into this space they feel like they’re in a regional theatre because of the feel and the technical elements they have here.”
Just before the play opened Soapdom ran a short announcement about the reading. Front and center were a group of fans who had driven two long hours to Pasadena, only to arrive over two hours before curtain. They were not disappointed. In fact, they had plans to drive home and return the next night for the second of the two readings.
Since arriving in LA, Riegel’s had a very full schedule. Besides auditions and meetings, she’s studying Spanish at UCLA -- but still is on deferred status at Harvard. She hopes to return to full time and get her degree. She’s re-connected with her childhood friend, Lacy Chabert and that’s been terrific. Not only did Chabert play Bianca as a little girl, Riegel’s family and Chabert’s family have been friends for years. Both of Riegel’s siblings live and work in Los Angeles, which provides a great base for her and her new life.
Soapdom wondered if she’s friendly with her TV mom’s real life daughter, Liza Huber (Gwen, Passions) Riegel and Huber are, indeed friends, good friends. Immediately after Riegel arrived in LA, Huber invited her to a premiere and made Riegel feel right at home.
But home is New York, even if her apartment is sublet to someone else. In December, Riegel will be back on the set of All My Children, where she thinks her alter-ego, Bianca will be lending an ear and lots of support to Kendall and her very mixed up love life. The scripts are piling up, but she’s been so busy with Agnes of God, that she hasn’t had any time to take a look at what’s in store. As busy as she’s been, Riegel finds time to tune in every couple of weeks, just to find out what’s going on, like the rest of us. “There are so many faces,” she remarked, “And they’re all soooo good.” Generous with her thoughts and praise, Riegel thinks Kelli Giddish (Di) is doing an amazing job.
As intense and emotional as the evening was for Riegel, she was incredibly relaxed and buoyant after the performance. Before she sat down with Soapdom, she paid a visit to those devoted front row fans. And, when we asked about her the Emmy, it’s right where she told everyone at the Emmy’s it would be - her grandmother’s house. Riegel believes the win has been very helpful in terms of casting agents. It’s opened more doors than she could ever have imagined.
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