Harkening back to soap opera’s humble beginnings, when they were broadcast live across the country, ABC’s General Hospital is set for a two-day network television event when GH goes LIVE from its ABC Prospect Studios in Hollywood. Under the direction of executive producer Frank Valentini, who was also a key part of One Life to Live’s successful live week back in 2002, General Hospital is set to deliver major story revelations and surprises when it goes live next Friday, May 15th, and the following Monday, May 18th. Be on the lookout for a wedding, someone getting caught in the crossfire, twists and turns … and secrets!
Daytime Emmy Award winning actress Michelle Stafford is one of the key members of the cast that will be part of the action, and as she teases to On-Air On-Soaps, even she was shocked when she found out what was going to happen to her character of Nina Clay during the live shows. So just how is this all going to be pulled off? Do you think it will go off without a hitch, or will someone make a major flub? Whatever the case, the cast will certainly be put through its paces, as they actually will be performing two sets of live shows back-to-back each day to air in most time zones (West Coast will get the playback of the live show). During our chat, Michelle shares some insight about working with her scene partner Roger Howarth (Franco) during the live shows, and how she is looking forward to having more scenes in the future with Nina’s nemesis’: her mother Madeline (Donna Mills), and of course, Ava Jerome (Maura West).
So, GH fans fasten your seat belts! The daytime drama series is touting that the live shows will truly propel the stories further, where anything and everything can happen live! To be part of the conversation, make sure to join use #GHLive via social media during the two-episode event. Here now is what Michelle shared to give us a glimpse into what’s ahead when GH goes live!
Michelle, you are the official General Hospital Live Shows representative! (Laughs) What are your thoughts about GH tackling two live episodes?
MICHELLE: I think it’s amazing. I am really excited about it, and I think its going to be fun. Obviously, I am in it! (Laughs) Actors love this … we are crazy people. We love walking on a tight-wire. When I heard about the live shows I was told I was in it at the same time they told me what I was doing in it. I was like “WHAAT?” They told me what was happening and I thought, “Cool!” Then they told me how it was happening, and I went, “Wait! What?” They surprised me and I don’t get surprised. You, Michael Fairman, and everyone will go, “Wait! What?” And I will tell you this … no one saw it coming. You definitely will not see it coming, but maybe, you will be pleased by it. I have a feeling, you, Michael Fairman; will be like, “Wait! How are they going to do this?” I think then after that you will go, “Whoa,” and then I think you will say, because I know you, “OK, well this could go this way, or this could go this way.”
Are you in scenes with Roger Howarth (Franco) during it?
MICHELLE: Yes, and then based on something I said to our head writer Ron Carlivati, he wrote a scene based on something I suggested between me and somebody else. And I went, “Oh, my God. This is amazing!”
At this point, what do you think is happening with Nina? Where is she at in her mind and in her life, and with Franco?
MICHELLE: She is trying to make things work and she is a damaged little girl. Nina is really in love with Franco, and completely in love. I like the dynamic and what the Nina character does to the Franco character. We definitely see a different side of Franco. Roger Howarth is such a good actor and he is a leading man. He is very beautiful and sensitive the way that he plays his character. I think it’s interesting that the two of them are criminals and they’re crazy, and they’re off. But I think there is this really interesting element that they find this beautiful and romantic love between them. You will see a lot of that in the live shows, and the romantic side of their relationship.
I am sure Roger was thrilled to do the live shows because he is so spontaneous anyways during his scenes!
MICHELLE: Yes, he is. They have certainly given him quite the challenge. I think three people are really challenged during the live shows, and Roger is one of them. We are all challenged, but three different people, in my estimation, reading the scripts back and forth I was like “Wow! That is some tough stuff you gotta do live!”
How are the live shows being rehearsed? What is the schedule for the cast?
MICHELLE: We are rehearsing all day next Thursday, and then Friday we do the shows. Then we rehearse after that and into the evening, and then I am supposed to be at Nadia Bjorlin’s (Chloe, DAYS) wedding that my daughter Natalia is in. So, Natalia will be going. She will be Uber-ing there. (Laughs) I am kidding! She won’t be Uber-ing. (Laughs) But, I will go be able to attend Nadia’s wedding reception, obviously.
Don’t you think the audience and the GH fans want to see someone screw up during the live shows?
MICHELLE: Don’t you? Do you want to see a screw up … or, do you want to say, “I think a person just screwed up their lines?” Seriously, there are a couple of areas I can pretend that I totally screwed up, and the audience will go, “Was that intentional, or not?”
When One Life to Live did their live week, which is the archetype for the GH shows, it went very smoothly, actually.
MICHELLE: It will probably go smooth, because you know how we shoot. We basically have the mindset of being live every day. We go up on our lines sometimes. But because we have all these rehearsals, we will all be perfect on our dialog. We will be rehearsing all day Thursday from early morning to late morning. I also, which drives some of my co-stars crazy, throw stuff out there at the last minute and see if they can catch it. Some of my co-stars dig it, and some of my co-stars don’t dig it so much. I think underneath they do dig it, and they may make fun of me, but I think they like the challenge.
Maura West and you, as Ava and Nina have been so amazing in scenes together. Do you think at some point GH will pick back up that on-screen vendetta, and the two of you will have more scenes together?
MICHELLE: I am sure we will. Those two women are not at a good place with each other, but there is simpatico between them, even though Nina hates her! I don’t think she will ever be supportive of her.
Donna Mills (Madeline) is back at General Hospital! At the Daytime Emmys she revealed that this time out, she thinks viewers will learn more as to why Madeline is the way she is. What are your thoughts on Madeline and Nina’s mother/daughter steely relationship, especially as we head into Mother’s Day this weekend? (Laughs)
MICHELLE: Donna and I were talking, and there was a moment in a scene when I decided to hug her and she doesn’t do anything. She just stands there. This was stuff that aired months ago. I thought that was such a good moment and so “Ordinary People” that Mary Tyler Moore moment in the film. I said, “That’s their relationship!” I also said to Donna the other day that we should discuss with Ron and Frank (Valentini) what are the elements that make up these women. We saw the first part of their relationship, but now I think the audience wants to know: What is up with Nina and why is she this way? Why is Madeline like this? Why do they hate each other? What did happen between them? I think you want to see that to bring a human element to these characters.
So, what do you think about General Hospital’s upcoming live shows? What do you think is going to happen to Nina Clay during it? Who will get married? Who will get caught in the crossfire? Are you rooting for Franco and Nina to stay together? Comment below on what Michelle previewed during our chitchat!